A new year past, a trip to South America and a new home move. And I’m ready for blog 2.0. While Peace blog.1.0 was too often of worrisome topics, the new topics will focus on the “so, what?” The what is sometimes more difficult because it requires the personal vulnerability of suggesting “what” might be a positive and better way forward. And, in today’s ultra critical atmosphere, the chopping block is never far away.
My holiday trip south gave me inspiration, seeing a kinder, gentler culture at play with less but more happiness. In Colombia, to witness the live eco-gardens adorning walls of many restaurants and skyscrapers spoke volumes about a culture contiguous to the Amazon and working more in tandem with nature as a friend. Peruvian markets in Lima were still connected to indigenous cultures, a reminder that most all of us were immigrants to the Americas. The consumerism, which has engulfed the US seemed of a much milder variety in Argentina, where one holiday gift is still very much appreciated. And, a trip to the countryside outside of Salta to a campo (ranch) with a night under the stars around a traditional asado of burning embers and slow simmering beef seemed to support the inter generational discussion about aged gaucho traditions co-existing with the today’s digital planet.
So much symbolism and serendipity wrapped up in less complex bundles led to thoughts this holiday about PEACE on Earth feeling less esoteric. My observations coupled with personal resolutions to focus on the positive and to imagine “the what” as something I will call “eco^logic.” Eco for ecology, equality, and economy and, logic, so we start thinking clearly and not with sole regard to a divisive alignment or tribe, political or otherwise.
The end of 2018 brought with it some musings for redefining living and priorities. My blending of careers and life events had me wondering if a new way to write about PEACE might be a definitive linking of equality and ecology to reshaping our economy into a more just and beneficial outcome for the Earth and humanity. If the past two years have taught us anything, it is that the cliché of anything is possible has potential. Today’s fundamentalist and reactionary mood needs a counter culture of true populism to establish hope and progress beyond rampant and “fake” nationalism. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/05/world/europe/populism-voters-global.html
I quietly exited the Democratic Party last year as I felt that both parties had deserted their constituents. The U.S. political culture has regressed into angry tribal devotion to a form of government alien and abhored by most all but enough voters to allow extremes to manifest a new politics. The American two-party political system has voters but lacks a constituency. It is a system that rewards incumbents and only those who can show strength by fundraising, with the rare exception of candidates able to align with current events and ride emotional tidal waves into office. Here is a system that has devolved into a distant relative of representative democracy. The political party system is broken and those who would be responsible for fixing it are the recipients of its corrupted state.
A second factor in the need for change is a subject I have written about and one I call America’s Consumer Democracy. The role of capitalism in our democracy is an active one undergirded by free market principles and a corporate culture that, like the political culture, seems unable or unwilling to monitor its excesses. I am far from a purist, having played the stock market, bought and sold spec homes and collected more stuff than I have needed. I am a realist, however, and I firmly believe that our consumer democracy has grown past the limits of Earth to support it. Climate change should not be political, but we see America’s political and corporate cultures abusing their free lease with the planet in the name of capitalism, which too many have aligned with patriotism. If it were true capitalism, corporations would give something for the great wealth given. Capitalism, to survive, cannot be immune from such a bargain with the Earth and we now begin to see the fractures even among Democrats with the corporate way forward. Given the opportunity to monitor success, large forces have turned their backs on the environment and the ticket to our future will now come at an unfair price for democracies who have granted private interests total access to natural resources for little or nothing in return. https://www.truthdig.com/articles/trump-plays-the-starring-role-in-the-saga-of-our-demise/
I can, with some authority, discuss the pay-to-play dynamics of Washington, having seen first-hand during early career years on Capitol Hill the rise of the entrenched lobby class. This brings me to a third point and that is, to enrich private interests and grant power to politicians, the cozy relationship of middlemen or lobbyists with the elected class in America has created a shadow democracy, where the rules lack transparency and the outcomes of these relationships reveal ultimate transactions of legislation or rules fixed for the donor. Earlier in this discussion I made the point about essential substantial funds to be allowed by the political gatekeepers ascension to elective office. It is hardly a coincidence that the class of political consultants for major candidates a few decades back devised a scheme to launder great sums of money to candidates through a system of PACs, political action committees, granted by law to raise unlimited amounts of cash from the corporate sector or individuals. In act after act of what we can term cynical political operatives, R and D consultants created PACs in coordination with leaders of campaign committees from both parties. Where in the 1980s and 90s campaigns were raising millions, we now are pilling up billions for consultants to place advertising and offering their services. Mind you, that these PACs are legally bound to not coordinate with a candidate but this may be the biggest hoax and most damning indictment of the crass greed that has toppled America’s two party system. https://www.thedailybeast.com/top-trump-backer-financed-supreme-court-confirmation-fights-through-shadowy-network
These three examples share a common thread and similar themes. While authoritarianism and greed have toppled great societies throughout history, Americans’ inability to spot a rat finds us in a place today where greed, rigging the system, and converting a working capitalism to legalized abuses has reached a limit. Diving through fixed policy loopholes funds the establish gatekeepers who pay out billions during election cycles to a pre ordained political elite, with their tidy commissions deposited along K Street, the lobbyists corridor, in Washington, DC.
The blister caused by this irritation became a sore in 2016’s national elections and the festering has been interesting to watch. As you would expect from American corporate cable media, displaying the sore, like a train wreck, is too alluring to intelligently assess the cause of the irritation, which demonstrates signs of causing serious illness. Some of the more obvious signs of America’s greed infection are a depleted environment and an unwillingness as a nation to cooperate globally to reduce the fever. Incarceration rates are America’s signal of a society out of balance. The inability of leadership around the issue of private insurance undermining the health of all Americans, was a symptom of a troubled capitalism. Burying a public school promise that made America the envy of the world had created thought deficit from which it will be hard to recover. And, linking patriotism to endless wars that scar America’s identity, maim our young and deplete our budgets to prop up excesses and wild spending sprees for anything military in the name of nationalism.
During these rather predictable times in America, we have lost our way and with it our moral compass required to better the lot of humanity. We have allowed the national narrative to be subverted from a pro-science progress, humanists path to one where fundamentalism, division, and anger have been made to appear an option, It is painful to acknowledge that so many values and aspirations providing hope for American greatness have been undermined by cheap political tricks and greed. To mix a few metaphors we appear to be a country of sheep being herded by aging bell cows, all of whom, want to be first without leading. Too many seem to want more, to be seen and heard first, to proclaim without foundation, and to mimic and shame the true reason for the American experiment, e Pluribus Unum, out of many one.
Things have to change. It is more than just a “green new deal,” although I like the sound of that. It is more than Democrats beating Republicans. It is beyond the Alt Right calling people of color socialists or communists. It is more than pulling our troops out of one place and raising conflict in another. The prisons are full. The debt has reached alarming levels. Trust has diminished in our institutions and in each other. And, signs of authoritarianism abound at home and around the world.
We are, no doubt in many ways, an intelligent nation, but are we a smart people? Let’s allow our knowledge to work for a secure and peaceful future. As for “the what,” I will spend time on this blog focused on positive energy for change and new ideas of how we can get to a new and better place that reflects the intents of democracy with the freedoms and rewards that it can bring.
eco^logic with peaceradioman.com