As of right now, President Barack Obama has secured his spot for a second term as President of these United States. To most observers, it wasn’t entirely unexpected, but his challenger, Mitt Romney, did put up a good fight, appealing to the “rest of America”, as it were, rather than focusing on the urban centers in the states with high electoral votes, as Obama did. In essence, it created the same split the US had four years ago. The map looks much the same, with the coasts being “blue” and the interior of the country being “red”…
In my travels I’ve visited each and every state in the Lower 48. At the base level, life will go on for each and every citizen of the US, much as it has had for them over the course of their lives. Whether there’s a Democrat or a Republican in the White House, their lives will go on. They will grow up, get jobs, maybe get married, maybe kick out a few kids, get old, and pass on, regardless of their location or political affiliation. Sure, economic conditions and the overall mood of the country do change (we are, as a lot, more miserable now than twenty years ago), but the overall lifestyle and conditions have remained pretty steady. Most of us have a roof over our heads and food on the table, which means we’re ahead of most of the world by a fair margin.
If we want to effect true change in our lives and political system, we can’t rely on just electing a different face of the same system every four years. Politicians may enter the world of politics with the best of ideals, but once in, they are either corrupted by power, or beaten down by the depth of the problems with our system, and they do the government equivalent of collecting a paycheck and just go through the motions.
To effect these changes, some have looked to the “third parties” in the US political system. Ranging from serious politicians such as ex-Republican governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, to publicity hounds like Roseanne Barr, the world of third-party politics is a diverse and wild one. Unfortunately, as it stands, no one has yet to make a serious dent in the two-party system. Johnson may or may not have come close, but as of this writing, it’s hard to find out whether he crossed the “magic” threshold of getting 5 percent of the popular vote. This threshold, if crossed, would permit the Libertarian Party to qualify for matching campaign funds from the government in the next election cycle, a major bonus.
Now, I tend to focus on the Libertarians a lot, mainly because that is my registered party affiliation. It isn’t a big secret that I have a distaste for big central government. I see big central government much like I see a big corporation. The government (corporation) only holds itself up to it’s biggest shareholders (the corporations in this case!) and disregards the interests of the individual citizen. What the Libertarian platform seeks to accomplish is to scale back government to the bare minimums needed to maintain a cohesive nation, and decentralize a lot of functions that are currently central, allowing for a more responsive form of government. Note, for the record, Libertarians aren’t anarchists or corporatists. The philosophy at it’s root level actually allows for debate and discussion on the form of government itself, actually. Some who identify as Libertarians are borderline anarchists, sure, but most are just decent citizens looking to live their lives with a minimum of active government interference, but also expecting that the government should be there to discharge it’s prescribed duties, whatever those may be at a given moment.
For example, the Libertarian take on war is that it is generally a bad thing. A Libertarian government shouldn’t conduct offensive campaigns, only defensive. Thus, the government is responsible for the safety of it’s taxpayers from external threats. This also obviously extends to basic police functions as well. I’m actually of the same bent. If I’m paying taxes, even if they are minimal, I would want the body I’m paying taxes into, to be able to take care of me and keep me safe. Sure, I’m pro-Second Amendment. When seconds count, the cops are minutes away, after all, but if you step it up a level, a Walther PPS isn’t really going to matter much against a full-on army. I would expect a government to provide a small standing force to do that for me.
Much along the same lines, and where I kind of split with the general party line (again, the party generally welcomes dissent and debate), is that the government should provide a basic form of emergency health care, covered by taxes. With the abolition of many government agencies, basic healthcare could be provided, even at a lower tax rate. After all, if I’m healthy, I’m able to work and pay taxes into the system. If I’m sick or infirm, I’m not able to work.
Beyond making sure the citizens are safe and healthy, the government should be hands-off. However, under the current system, that just isn’t possible. There is an entire industry built around a two-party strong central government system. Lobbyists, contractors, bureaucrats, and so many others depend on this very system for their livelihood. The system in place isn’t interested in the welfare of it’s citizens, it is only interested in safeguarding it’s existence in perpetuity. Much like the fictional “Matrix”, some people are so plugged in and dependent, they’ll stop at nothing to ensure the survival of their system.
Thus, beyond the change in government, we need a sea change in society for true progress to be made. Less and less, we should look to big government to solve all our ills, or big business for that matter. People need to get off of their social media and reality show addictions and get involved in the political process, before their right to do so is gradually usurped. The right to keep and bear arms could be revoked tomorrow and only a few NRA lobbyists would raise a fuss, but if someone set off an EMP weapon in each Facebook data center, there would be a mass insurrection. Bread and circuses keep the masses in check. People bitch about their privacy rights all the time, but they’ll share every bowel movement on Facebook, like it matters. That’s a personal pet peeve of mine. Fact is, even if I like you, I don’t care. Spare me the mundane. Let me know when you do something interesting. Checking in at your cubicle is not interesting. Oops, nearly went off track there.
Also, we need to reawaken the spirit of “Do It Yourself” in this country. Now, I’m not suggesting we all become aircraft mechanics and architects and build our own personal planes and buildings, but at the same time, I’m shocked at the lack of general knowledge of the way things work in some of the people around me. Now, grant it, I’m certainly deficient in some of these areas (until recently, cars were a ‘stomp-on-gas-pedal-and-go-that-way’ affair to me), but I’m actually amazed at the overall level of ignorance I encounter. I think a spirit of “DIY” would encourage more government participation by the citizens.
Now, this could be a double-edged sword. People may not always think about what is best for the community, but what is best for them. For example, outlawing abortion might suit the family down the street just fine, but might not ring true for the struggling single mom-to-be down the street. Where people definitely need to mind their own business is in matters of the body, so to speak. My body, my rules. As long as my mistakes only harm me, I should be allowed to make them without penalty or interference. Abortion, drug use, even assisted suicide, aka “death with dignity” should be decisions left to the individual, not others. At the end of the day, the Libertarian ideal is about individual freedom. Right now, there is a severe lack of it in this country. Sure, there’s a lot we can do, but at the same time, there is a lot we cannot do, that we should be able to do, especially when it comes to ourselves.
I didn’t mean for this to turn into a pro-Libertarian rant, OK, maybe I did, but nonetheless, the issues are still staring us in the face, even though our everyday life continues unabated, and even though at a basic level, for most of us, it isn’t that bad.
But, it could be better. My ideas and concepts could actually make accomplishing that quite easy. And, of course, if you just choose to kick back and figure out things as you go along, that’s alright too. It is your right as a human being to do the amount of work you think is necessary to be happy. For some this involves 16-hour days festering under fluorescent tubes. For others, this involves being outdoors and building things. For others, it kind of involves a lot of random things. It’s your life, neither the government, your friends, parents, families, talking heads on TV, self-help gurus, priests, rabbis, imams, or swamis need to be in the business of telling you how to live it.
Now, with the current federal election over, Obama has four more years to deliver on his promises. Being human, he won’t deliver on them all, but the American people just granted him an extension. While I hope he delivers on some, and misses the ball on others, I do know it’s up to us to keep an eye on him and the government as a whole, and gradually try to effect the sea change I spoke about earlier. Revolutions don’t happen overnight, even in this day and age. Patience is key.