(This is a piece that I wrote in 2011, as part of my campaign for Congress.)
There’s probably a good reason why politicians generally stick with simple messages about the immediate issues found on the surface of things. Most everyone encourages me to do that more.
But I am convinced that we will meet the profound challenge of our present crisis only to the extent that we grasp a reality that’s neither simple nor superficial.
So as the non-politician candidate, I am going to speak about the force that gives rise to much of what we see on the surface of contemporary events, and that can be seen only by putting the pieces together and seeing things whole.
Behind all the various particulars of the Republican Party’s ongoing demolition of what’s best about America, there is an “It.”
There’s a force operating in a coherent way, animated by the same basic “spirit,” pursuing a kindred set of goals, and proceeding with a coherent modus operandi. Beyond the many, there is a one, a unifying pattern.
It’s important that we recognize just what we’re up against. It’s important to see this coherence among the various dimensions of how the Republican Party, and its backers, are steadily degrading America.
It’s the economic situation that has most people’s attention nowadays, because of how it is impinging directly on people’s experience. In their daily lives, Americans face the fear of joblessness, or of losing their homes, or of not being able to take care of their health care needs, or that they will not be able to provide a good education for their children.
The immediate distress of such fears has appropriately led many people to begin to focus on the widening gulf between the very rich and the rest of us. That in turn is leading people to perceive how the Republican Party has become the Money Power, how it labors continuously to widen that gulf further, transferring wealth from average Americans to those already fabulously wealthy.
But the money power that has been indifferent to justice in the distribution of wealth has shown the same absence of scruples in other ways.
Our nation is being changed into the kind of country Americans have always abhorred— not only one where the rich take from the rest, but also one whose leaders launched a war for reasons they lied about and then officially sanctioned the use of torture.
A common element is visible here. It is a spirit of “the strong do what they can, and the weak suffer what they must.”
Greed alone does not account for the virtually habitual dishonesty of the Republican Party’s communications with the nation, from lying us into war, to rejecting science on behalf of oil company profits, to swiftboating a war hero, to attempting to delegitimize a president from the opposing party.
Instead of the Golden Rule (“Do unto others as you would have them…”), there’s a spirit of using people for one’s own ends.
The pattern is visible not only across issues, but also through time: This “It” survived the transition from the Bush era to the Obama era.
When the Bush presidency came to an end, and its leading figures left town, one might have expected that the old, respectable Republican Party to reemerge. But despite the change of people at the top, the underlying destructive spirit persisted.
The same spirit that had expressed itself (2001-2009) in a presidency which had shown an unprecedented contempt for the law –FISA, torture, bogus legal memos, pardoning the only one from their ranks held accountable by legal trial—then continued its work (2009- to date) through a party, now in opposition, whose top priority was to make the president fail, even though that inevitably would damage the country.
That same spirit, at the state level, has sought to deprive working Americans –already in a greatly weakened position– of their bargaining rights.
It’s the spirit of always asking “how can I gain maximum power for me?” and never “what best serves the greater good of the nation?” In this spirit, all that “better” ever means is “more for us.”
From coherence of effect, one can infer a commonality of cause. Just as Newton did not have to see the gravitational force that governs the pattern of planetary motion around the sun, so we do not have to see the “It” to understand that it is there.
• An It behind the lying and hypocrisy
• An It behind the continual dividing of groups against each other
• An It behind the nurturing of ignorance
• An It behind the constant play on people’s fears
• An It in the lack of any positive vision
• An It on the preying on the most vulnerable
• An It in the unwillingness to sacrifice for any larger good
• An It in always choosing conflict over cooperation
• An It in the insatiability of the drive for power and wealth
• An It in the damage to everything It touches
It is a force that must be confronted and defeated. Understanding is the first step.
It is important to see the pattern. As in baseball, you can’t hit what you don’t see.