(Click here to see the video)
"The government's role is to protect "us"..."
Reverend Al Sharpton, on "This Week" news show, Nov 1, 2009
As I usually do on Sunday mornings, today I watched the key Sunday morning weekly news shows like "Face the Nation" and "This Week". I find this exercise helps me keep track of the political pulse in the USA in the shortest amount of time and with greatest impact. The panel discussions on "This Week" are usually most intriguing to me as a microcosm of debate between liberal, centrist, and conservative "talking heads" as they battle out their positions in short debate form. It is one of the few programs which feature simultaneously the likes of George Will and the "Reverend" Al Sharpton in discussion of the key issues of the week. This week the key discussions were on the upcoming local and state level elections, defining the major battles and issues...and of course a lot is made of the weeks latest polls on everything from health-care to the popularity of President Obama.
The core debate currently in the political arena at a macro level is defining the role of government in a democracy. Towards the end of the program "This Week", I felt Mr. Sharpton and Mr. Will summarized the core philosophical difference between liberal and conservative political views succinctly when Al Sharpton said vehemently that "the role of government is to protect us" to which George Will replied "I thought the role of government was to protect OUR RIGHTS...even from government itself". This struck me as the heart of the matter for so MANY issues our country is facing right now.
While the Democrats and President Obama continue to have the power and influence from the last election cycle to have their way for now, there is obviously a strong back lash against many of the big government plans and controls the administration and congress together are pushing forward. As someone else on the program said, "with this health-care bill, the Democrats are pushing the shopping cart down the aisle as fast as they can and filling it with as much control and power items that they can get passed in short order".
In reaction to this, the Republican party leadership is pushing the party further to the extreme "right", and it seems we are seeing a number of people leave both parties to pursue more INDEPENDENT or centrist pursuits. Unfortunately, panel members from each party persuasion castigate "independents" as being "Perot extremists"...as if independents all line up behind the ideologies of this independent figurehead of over 20 years ago who hasn't been heard from in the political arena in a long time. They seem to be afraid to bring up current independent thinkers like Congressman Ron Paul or Mayor Bloomberg of New York City. Joe Lieberman is the other "poster child" of independent politicians and he was interviewed briefly on "Face the Nation" today...but the media gives very short shift to the independent movement and loves to continue the battle between two parties that in my view both represent "big government" programs even if from different applications thereof.
While I find it somewhat nauseating to have people like Al Sharpton (I would personally never call him "Reverend" and I don't know why the media continues to do so since he is now more a full time political pundit than a "reverend") be the best they can find to represent the mainstream liberal Democratic cause (what happened to Donna Brazile who is a much smoother, more intelligent representative of the liberal democrat agenda?). Yet, the scary part is that Al Sharpton probably better represents the mindset and attitude of that sector's voting public. Simplistic, fear-mongering, banner waving hype on "equal rights" and the poor masses that need big government protection has over run more intelligent, objective and rational debates. Where are the intelligent, better educated leaders that used to lead that democratic charge? Why can't we see more debates and interviews by intelligent minority leaders like Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas, or even Jesse Jackson Jr. who would arguably be a better image and mouthpiece for minority and liberal causes than Sharpton.
But, more important then personality or image issues, it is the content of thought and reason that worries me and I think many more like me. Since when did the constitution change so much as to make the government guarantors of so many social benefits? When did the constitution change to allow for so much taxation without representation? When did the switch happen from the purpose of protecting individual rights and our borders to government's current mandate of controlling markets, currencies, health-care, unemployment benefits, arts endowments, foreign nation building, and the right to go to war without Congress declaring war?
If government's role is first and foremost to protect "us" versus protecting our rights and freedoms, then I am afraid our democracy is doomed to the realities of this...my favorite quote on democracy from the late 1700s...
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess of the public treasury. From that time on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the results that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's great civilizations has been 200 years.
These nations have progressed through this sequence:from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance;from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to complacency;from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependency; from dependency back again to bondage.
--Sir Alex Fraser Tytler (1742-1813) Scottish jurist and historian
A couple bonus quotes on this theme...
Democracy does not guarantee equality of conditions - it only guarantees equality of opportunity.
“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” -- Thomas Jefferson