Last year when I was covering the Occupy movement, I crashed a “teach-in” at the Cal campus (a public—meaning—government university) where an activist announced they didn’t need government. “We can govern ourselves!” She declared. Now the problem with a group of people governing is they essentially become (wait for it) a government.
It’s a bit like saying, “We don’t need food—we can just eat pizza!”
This is a confusion the right wing revels in. It’s why during the health care debate there were protest signs demanding the government stay out of Medicare. “We’re here, we’re misinformed—get used to it!”
“Sometimes, even presidents need reminding, that our rights come from nature and God, not from government,” says GOP VP nominee Paul Ryan on the stump.
It’s a hefty statement that has yet to get a follow up question. Which rights do we get from god, exactly? The right to choose another religion? Isn’t Free Speech an affront to a couple Commandments? Has anyone ever checked out a theocracy like Saudi Arabia and thought, “Look at all those civil rights!”?
Ryan is bastardizing the battle cry to establish self-governance against the divine right of kings. Prior to the French and American Revolutions, in the Dark Ages, kings were assumed to be kings because it was thought god wanted them to be kings—therefore everything they did was god-like.
So thinkers—and this country was founded by thinkers—came up with a way to separate the powers of god and rulers—self-governance: Three branches of self-government; a bill of rights; checks and balances. Specifically a secular government made up of regular citizens and not kings. This government framework being a design to secure individual rights (life, liberty, pursuit of happiness etc. etc.)
Is the right wing denouncing self-governance? Well, yeah, pretty much. If rights, according to Mr. Ryan, come from whichever purely subjective interpretation of god is en vogue this week and not from the body of democratically elected leaders adhering to a constitutional guide, it’s a position the Tories or the crown loyalists would have supported.
And the alternative to self-governance? The alleged free market? Privatized tyranny is still tyranny to its subjects.
Personally, Time Warner is not my idea of freedom.
Which leads me to the question: Since corporations are people according the Romney/Ryan ticket, does god give them rights? We’re talking about the divine right of Exxon-Mobile here: this is important.
“There are 47 percent who are with him [Obama],” said Romney on a recently verified tape made last May. “Who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims.”
There’s something very telling about a dude sneering at those dependent on the government while being under Secret Service protection.
What of this remaining 53 percent Romney is trying to woo: Who’s independent of the government? Walmart depends on the government to feed their workforce via food stamps. Nearly all other businesses depend on the government for law and order so they can conduct business. Wealthy people have property. Government protects property rights. Banks got bailed out—by the government. Roads are maintained by the government. Air travel, regulated by the government. Also our elderly, disabled and yes our poor, assisted by the government.
If you’re voting for a president, you’re voting for a government worker. Your vote means you have some confidence in government as to its legitimacy and efficiency. If you’re donating to a presidential candidate (or some sympathetic superPAC) you’re putting your faith in Government.
Which means, in short, you are depending on government.
We are all the 47 percent.
Taking Eternal Vigilance Too Far
Published: Friday, 21 September 2012