In the movie Gladiator, at the opening of the games, an arena combatant says, “We who are about to die salute you.” Having entered my eighth decade on the planet, I can relate to his assertion, hopefully with a bit more time left than an imminent contest. I am, though, nearing checkout time, and I am concerned about the future that subsequent generations will inherit when my mine has fought its last battle. That said, here are some political behaviors and beliefs that I find encouraging:
- If you are one of those people who have nothing but contempt for the government and who never tire of trashing everything public, while championing everything private—with the exception of the Pentagon—by all means keep it up.
- If you never miss a chance to disparage immigrants, especially those whose labor makes it possible for you to eat inexpensive fruit and vegetables, I encourage you to pick up the pace and increase the audible decibels of your rhetoric.
- If you constantly harp about ending a woman’s right to choose whether or not she will give birth to a child against her wishes, for whatever reason, please don’t stop. Instead, put more effort into upping the level of vitriol about reversing Rowe v. Wade.
- If you are one of those people who think Ayn Rand hung the moon with her declaration that selfishness is our greatest virtue, please spread the word and give my regards to John Galt.
- If you think that one person, one vote is an antiquated notion and that whatever you can do to gerrymander and rig election laws to prevent your political opponents from voting is legitimate, then by all means continue and send out frequent press releases.
- If you think Wall Street has been shackled with unnecessary regulations, please raise your voice and make yourself heard. Start gathering donations for the next bailout.
- If you if think gay marriage is a threat to traditional marriage, please don’t miss an opportunity to make your point with all of the supporting reasons you can muster about how it will adversely affect your own marriage.
- If you think we need a military that is bigger than it is now, please tell us why at every chance you get.
- If you think we should do away with the minimum wage so that more people can be employed at slave wages, please print up some handbills and put an ad in your local newspaper. Then get a burglar alarm for your home.
- If you think insurance companies should be completely in charge of medical treatment, speak up.
- If you believe there should be no restrictions, whatsoever, on the private ownership of firearms, including background checks, please say so. Show us pictures of your bazooka.
- If you believe that America is a bastion of socialism, where government deregulation is all we need to reenergize the economy, tell your legislators, but don’t forget your neighbors.
- If you believe that Social Security and Medicare should be abolished, please shout it out. Then subscribe to the Hemlock Society newsletter because you may need it.
If you agree with any and especially all or most of the points above, I salute you. I do so because this means there is hope for the future. There is hope because you and your party are hell-bent on self-destruction. It means that your narrow views and the bigotry and contempt you spew forth toward those you deem to be pathologically different (calling it plain old common sense) is finally being seen for the shallow thinking that it represents.
American demographics are changing the political landscape toward a more thoughtful and tolerant society. If you persist with your vitriol, your political party will soon be small enough to drown in a bathtub.
Over time, perhaps, some of you will wake up and realize that you don’t have ideas so much as ideas have you—that the totality of your worldview comprises shallow assumptions that you cling to in spite of never having studied any relevant subject in depth. Worse, your opinions are not well reasoned. Instead, they amount secondhand insecurities borrowed from ignorant individuals whose major concerns in life are best described as identity-based paranoia. The world is moving on and away from overt racism and bigotry, which in the past were routinely passed off by your fellow travelers as patriotism. These attitudes are anything but.
The vast majority of extreme right-wing rhetoric that has been so prominent in America for the past two decades is a strain of populist contempt that bears no relation, whatsoever, to the ideas upon which America was founded. The movement to make abortion illegal has much more to do with protecting an authoritative masculine worldview than with an actual concern for children. This is easy to confirm if you get close enough to see what most of the proponents really value when it comes to the choices they make in life.
So go on. Sip your tea, wear funny hats, shoulder muskets, and carry placards with hateful slogans, because you and your ideas belong with the flintlock era. Once again, I salute you farewell and wish you and your ilk good riddance. Don’t let the Constitution hit you in the face on your way out the door.
Saturday, 4 May 2013