Sunday, October 11, 2009

"What Are We Fightin' 'FOR'?"

Anyone who came of age during the hippie, war protest days of the late ‘60’s will recognize this lyric from the song that some people say ‘ended' the Vietnam War:  “'I Feel Like I Am Fixin’ To Die' Rag” by none other than Country Joe and The Fish*

Yes, younger America, there actually was a band back then with a crazier name than any of the rappers you might be following to your parents’ eternal dismay.

Many Americans are downright disgusted with the current state of politics and have been for perhaps the past decade or more.  We know what we DON'T want and that is the current practice of lots of empty talk, rhetoric and posturing and no substantive action on well, anything. Our last column on the rise of the Independent/Unaffiliated registered voter to over 30% of the population in many states brought forth a lot of comment and passion from tons of people confirming this broad-based sentiment.

The late Lee Atwater, the controversial but effective campaign advisor to many successful Republican candidates, told us in 1986: “The predominant political party in America in the 21st century will be socially libertarian and fiscally conservative.”  Looking at the inexorable rise of the number of independent voters coupled with the rising current disgust with both the Democrat and Republican party, it appears as if Mr. Atwater might be proven right.

Neither party has moved to fill the void that the independents seem to be trying to fill themselves today.  Both established parties have painted themselves into opposite corners where they can't possibly reach across party lines, pledges and philosophies to negotiate and accept reasonable compromises in the best interests of the nation.

Our current political state might not be as bad as when the colonists felt that King George III was unfairly taxing them to death without representation.  We seem to be taxing ourselves today 'with' representation, quite well, come to think about it. And we know our nation is not in as conflicted of a state as when our Founding Fathers agreed to allow slavery as a constitutionally-protected institution for 76 years after the government was formed.

But the current state of our national government and politics does seem pretty bad, to be honest about it, wouldn't you agree? We have got to have radical changes in policies to correct current imbalances.

Perhaps the independents are just waiting for the right person to lead their new ‘party’ to credibility.  Or perhaps they are just waiting for a set of core principles to be laid out before they can actually be a formative force in American elective politics, much like when a disparate group of disenchanted Whigs broke away over the issue of slavery among other issues and formed the Republican Party under leaders such as Abraham Lincoln between 1850 and 1854.

Thomas Jefferson said each generation has to determine for themselves what our government is going to look like for them during their lifetime.  Our parents and grandparents have had their swing at the bat.  Now it is up to Americans now aged 65 to around 40 to make the changes needed to solve these huge problems staring right down the barrel at us.

We'd like the younger generations to join us in this effort but history shows that you never register in sufficient numbers or vote often enough to really tip the balance of power your way. (So prove history 'wrong' for a change)

If you are among the ‘disenchanted progressive’ or the ‘angry conservative independent’ voters, ‘What is it you are fightin’ for?’ anyway versus ‘What are you mad about and against?”

Let’s see if we can help put some meat on these bones for you and possibly identify some of what you would want from a ‘new’ political party to lead us out of this mess:

  1. We want our elected government leaders to quit bitching about everything and showing up on cable news shows all the time.  Get to work on solving our problems and stay out of the news, why doncha?
  2. We want our government to protect us from invasion and attack by the terrorists ever again by using the most modern technology and equipment available.  And get rid of any wasteful defense programs that we know are hidden in the Pentagon budget somewhere.
  3. We want our government to balance the budget every year from now on.  Period. No more debt.  Debt is for political cowards.
  4. We want every scintilla of wasteful spending eliminated in the federal budget before we consider spending any more money on new programs.  Consider this a mandatory ‘freeze’ on new spending authority, just like we all have had to do during this crippling recession.
  5. We want the national debt to be paid down and eliminated before we die and leave this earth.  Leaving such a debt is unfair to our children and cowardly of all of us now consuming those resources.  We have been the most self-absorbed, coddled, materialistic generation in American history...we don't want to be remembered as the 'craziest' and 'stupidest' generation as well.
  6. If we do need new spending such as for a justifiable war or health care for everyone, and all previously mentioned wasteful spending has been verifiably eliminated (by GAO or some other agency), then we will pay for it in higher taxes as long as the burden is spread over the whole society.  After all, we are all in this thing together as a team of Americans, not broken out by race, creed, religion or socio-economic circumstances.
  7. We want all entitlement programs to be scaled back so that only the truly needy or poverty-stricken individuals get the full benefits now currently available to everyone based solely on age-eligibility. Scale them according to income.  We know this might stick it to our own pocketbook but we are willing to do this for our children and grandchildren as perhaps the only sacrifice our generation has ever actually done collectively ‘for our country’, as President Kennedy asked us to do in 1961.
  8. We want peace on earth, and goodwill towards all others, just as all now-Aging Aquarians were taught to believe in our formative years, like when we listened to songs from Country Joe and The Fish, before too many brain cells were eliminated and destroyed. (is that why we can't balance the budget nowadays?)

Now if we can just figure out a way to deal with the tortuous issues of abortion, gay rights, gun control, global warming and the expression of religious faith anywhere near a public building, we will all win the Nobel Peace Prize before we are fixin’ to die.

Think about it….this might be the last chance we have to do something great for our country.  Most of us have avoided military service; we have not suffered through anything like WWII or the Depression; communist Russia and Eastern Europe fell without too much sacrifice on our part and we have generally enjoyed the fruits of living in a free enterprise democratic republic.

And if we don’t do make these changes today, our children might not be able to cure what we leave behind in our wake.

*lyrics to “’I Feel Like I Am Fixin’ to Die’ Rag”

”And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for ?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam;
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.”

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