History has proven time and again that “radical” ANYTHING usually winds up on the “bad idea” side of the line, especially where politics is concerned. Political radicals have been responsible for some of the biggest, bloodiest messes in human history. Yet as our political system grows more polarized, now we begin to see the emergence of extremely radical thinking at either end of the political spectrum in our political parties. The current most radical strains of “conservative” and “liberal” seem to bottom out as two ideologically-opposite schools of thought:
1) Radical Conservative: someone who generally doesn’t want to pay for anything, ever, unless they use it themselves, and who resents having to do so on the grounds that everyone except they and their friends are a bunch of lazy freeloaders;
2) Radical Liberal: someone who thinks it generally doesn’t matter where the money comes from to do stuff— or even if it actually exists, or will ever exist— so long as everyone unconditionally benefits from it, no matter who, deserving or not.
So those two hard line economic/political approaches respectively break down into one based in selfishness, versus one based in irresponsibility.
The rational path is the one that lies in the middle (and which was the basis for how our government was set up): as a representative-democratic republic empowered to collect taxes from its citizens in service to the greater good of all, but only in accordance with the needs and will of its citizenry— i.e, to provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.
We all pay for the roads, the municipal parks, the schools, the police and fire services, the military, and whatever else we decide benefits “the general welfare” of our citizenry. That’s the primary reason the federal government exists, as specifically dictated in the preamble to our constitution.
Anyone who wants to sponge off the rest of us but doesn’t want to cowboy up and pay their fair share is a self-serving jerk.
No matter if they are a corrupt business owner illegally abusing his employees and cheating on his taxes to build his business, or some asshole in Nevada illegally grazing his cattle on Federal land for free, or a presidential candidate who off-shores 90% of his income to hide it from the IRS, or a welfare recipient gaming the system to collect extra Federal aid to which they aren’t entitled, or some misguided social reformer sneakily tacking expensive pork barrel grant projects onto necessary legislation to benefit their own constituency when there’s no way to actually pay for it and it will all wind up charged to future generations, or a predatory “social crusader” law firm devising multi-year nonsense punitive lawsuits against every large company it can in order to tap the system and vampirically siphon necessary capital from the business sector into their own pockets.
They are the “bad roommates” of our society— the ones who never want to pay their share of the rent when the bills come due, the ones who write their name on every item of food in the fridge while sneaking someone else’s milk onto their own cereal, the ones who dreamily announce that “it will all work out somehow” when eviction looms imminent, but who then sneak out with all their stuff and vanish while their more responsible roommates are all at work the next day.
They hide on both sides of the political line, and even in church.
I’ve never understood how the whole “selfish merciless jerk who snarls that everyone should fend for themselves” line of thinking supposedly melds with Christianity, for instance. Probably because it doesn’t.
Our current vacuous culture breeds selfishness and often seems to reward it— but the truth is, we’re all in this together. If everyone could get their self-centered heads out of their self-entitled-asses long enough to try cooperating and compromising with one another, we might be able to begin to clean up our collective mess and get back on track.
Seriously. That’s all it would take– the willingness to concede that we, ourselves, might not be the most important thing in the universe, combined with a renewed spirit of cooperation and an end to silly Third Grade name-calling and playground antics in our houses of government.
Time for the boomers and Gen X (myself included) to stop whining, grow the hell up, and get to work.