Friday, October 3, 2008

Money, Morals, Religion, Racism: Summing Up

In 2000 and again in 2004, the election process was dubious, to say the least. That is saying it kindly. Here is what I think: two presidential elections were stolen in broad daylight, and nobody had the will or the power to do anything about it. I have heard people from third world countries calling what happened here a coup d’état. I’ll let Webster’s Dictionary explain what a coup d’état is: “a sudden and decisive action in politics, esp. one resulting in a change of government illegally or by force.”
As we have tried to go about our daily lives, we have experienced terrorist acts and we have been lied into a war we did not want.
We have watched the rich grow richer and the middle class grow poorer. We have watched our country go deep into debt, and we, the people, have gone deep into debt, some of us because of unwarranted optimism, some because of the lack of sense or the lack of the will to put off getting what we want; some because there was no other way to get by. Now we all seem to be having problems with credit, and money. The roots of these problems go a lot deeper than the last eight years, but the borrow-and-spend ways of the last eight years have precipitated the current hysteria.
Then there is morality. A little reality check here: does anyone not know that the alpha male has always assumed he’s entitled to sow his superior seed? That this is one of the reasons guys become politicians, and rock stars, and athletes? Scandal is always to be avoided, but that was easier back when the press was polite about these things. “Boys will be boys and what the people don’t know won’t hurt the boys.” The rules have changed, but the behavior hasn’t. For the first time sexual behavior that falls outside the strictures of Protestant morality is being reported and condemned.
The crazy-making part of this is how the morally righteous treat transgressors: Democrats who stray are slime who are given hell here and will later burn in hell; Republican transgressors are to be prayed for and forgiven. People who decry situational ethics practice situational morality, and it’s a safe bet that the people who howl the loudest about morality and sin are the ones most likely to be caught with their pants down, literally. Crazy-making.
Both the right and the left ends of the spectrum tend to believe they are morally superior. So I will now say a few words about moral superiority: like the military-industrial complex, it is to be avoided. If you think you’re right about everything, you have missed the mark. No one listened to Eisenhower, either, but he spoke up and I am speaking up. Knock that crap off. It does not help.
Then there’s religion. Many people adore Bush Jr. “because he’s a Christian.” I have no idea of the real relationship between George and his God. All I see is his public behavior, and from that perspective he acts, talks, walks, and quacks like a charismatic character who has been a perfect figurehead for the neo-cons, as Ronald Reagan was. As Bush, Sr., wasn’t quite, though he was a faithful party steward. As Sarah Palin is shaping up to be, in this era of politics as show business.
The biggest factor in the 2008 election is racism. All the campaigning, all the debate, all the issues, all the qualifications or lack of them, all these things are nothing in the face of prejudice. This election will be a referendum on racism in this country.
We’ll get up the day after the election and try, as always, to live our daily lives as well as we can. If your guy loses, and you think it’s the end of the world and you don’t know what to do, I point you toward this verse from the Hebrew Scriptures:
“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8, NRSV
Not a bad plan for the day after an election. Or coup d’état, as the case may be.

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