Democrats & Liberals Archives

Next Fantasy

Nothing is as easy to believe as the fantasy of the moment brought to you by either of the dominant parties in this presidential race. William Cohen made that point eloquently in the piece he wrote this week. The real problems of our nation and the world, disease, poverty, irrational hatred of our fellow humans, destruction of the environment, are intractable and will not be solved by this election or the one in Afghanistan, or the one coming in Iraq early next year.

Elections are not magical events. They are merely a means of controlling the worst impulses of those who make government their business. Most of us do not really spend a lot of effort on the task of governing our nation. Our lives are too full of the daily issues of survival and enjoyment that commonly occupy our minds. The long view of government held by both parties and most of the people in this nation is that it needs to be constrained or it will take over too much of our lives. The idea that this election offers us a stark difference in style between two possible leaders of this nation is an exaggeration. Neither man is likely to take us down the road to imminent destruction, intentionally, or otherwise. Neither can alter the course we each, and cumulatively all, have set this nation and this world on substantially enough to matter in the long run. They reflect our strengths and weaknesses too much to lead us out of our own self-created morass.

The partition between our daily lives and our electoral politics will come crashing down after the election for most of us. There will be a lot of people who feel disenfranchised no matter which candidate wins, but their daily lives will need tending and oh well, there’ll always be another election. Of course there are ominous signs of a real split in our nation between those who want to keep women from flushing their toilets when they have their periods and those who think a fetus is not a human being in any meaning of the word. Then there are those who think we must give up freedoms and liberties in order to defeat our enemies set against those who think that government should not intrude in our lives under any circumstances. Of course there are also those who think that we can have big government without paying for it ourselves. They are facing off against those who can see the debts that are being dropped on our grandchildren’s shoulders as a crippling legacy of profligacy from our generation to theirs. It is our legacy, given to them of course, with our doting love.

It is not our leadership that is failing us but our ability to lead ourselves past the easy gratification of the moment toward the hard labor of resolving those intractable problems that face us today. Or at least they would face us if we would look at the real world in which we live. This election will not substantially alter the course of our world. We are still going to blindly stumble toward the abyss of global warming no matter who we elect this time out. We are still going to dance and sing while the deaths of species older than humanity proliferate around us and they are snuffed out one by one. We are still going to ignore the deaths of millions of children every decade in places like Africa and Bangladesh. Deaths caused only by a lack of resources. Money and human training are still in shortest supply there.

We will still burn oil at an ever increasing rate, moving faster and faster toward the day when it is all used up. We will still consume more than we replace from the oceans and the land each year during the next four years. The day of reckoning will draw closer no matter which of these two men we elect President. Neither has the power to stop our progress toward ecological and economic disaster in a world too full of people and too empty of concern for the future.

The irrational outcry will still ring out, “The markets will take care of the future.” Ignoring the limits of markets based on their ineradicable link to the present and recent past. Since markets are reactive mechanisms how do they resolve future problems? In the history of markets the answer has always been, “Badly,” before, why should this time be any different? Neither man will be able to make a substantial difference in regard to our irrational faith in markets or in religion or science for that matter.

The wonder of science has brought us nuclear weapons and penicillin, which of them has contributed more to the demise of human respect for life is yet to be resolved. Religious intolerance has brought us the greatest number of deaths from wars and the accompanying plagues and famines in human history. Markets have brought us prosperity and the accompanying down cycles of recession and depression when they fail in their task of adequately distributing wealth among the people of the world. Governments, even our own, have been helpless in the face of these failures of our greatest human inventions. They will remain helpless no matter which of these men lead us through the next four years.

Vote, do express your preference for who should lead us, but do not think that your obligation to our nation and the world ends there, it does not! We all must strive harder to resolve the intractable problems that our numbers and prosperity create in the real world. If we fail our world in our attention to those problems it will fail us or our children, quite possibly catastrophically. No President can prevent that. Only an aroused people willing to strive to correct the mistakes we have made with the best of intentions can keep this world ecologically, economically and socially sound. It is your task and mine, not that of the poor man we elect to lead us. God bless and keep you safe and working toward a better world for all of humanity regardless of who we elect to the office of President. ©Henri Reynard/GoldenBrush Interactive

Posted by Henri Reynard at October 28, 2004 10:29 AM