By Miguel De La Torre
This Tuesday, we as a nation vote. For some reason, the presidential cycle this year seemed nastier than usual. Emotional rhetoric replaced civil discourse. Rather than assessing the positives and negatives of the respective candidates, we have adopted some perverse worldview that our candidate can do no wrong while “their” candidate is the reincarnation of Satan.
Academic rigor must be lacking when we can no longer constructively criticize our own political choice, party or ideology or find any wisdom or truth in the other. Idolatry occurs when we ascribe the qualities of ultimate wisdom and goodness to humans or philosophies.
How much richer our discourse might be if we began with the realization that we might be wrong. Humility and self-doubt are virtues to be cultivated if our goal is to gain a greater understanding of the world around us.
We do not yet know the winner in Tuesday’s election. Reflecting in this moment of uncertainty, here is what I would say regardless of the outcome: The country is heading in the wrong direction, and neither party nor candidate has the answers – or, worse, both refuse to deal with our situations.
Hence, as we look forward to a new administration, let’s consider the following:
Whoever wins, don’t gloat. You lead a divided nation. Whoever loses, work with whoever wins. To wish the president failure or vow not to work with him so that your party can recapture the White House in four years is a betrayal of the people who elected you to serve for the betterment of the nation.
Regardless as to who sits in the White House and which party controls Congress:
— Democracy is not flourishing. Unregulated political contributions have eroded political freedom. Lies-as-truth dominate the airwaves, because a small elite of the wealthy can repeat them often enough until the public believes them. Laws are passed to suppress votes so that one party has an electoral advantage. This is immoral and contrary to the rhetoric of American democracy.
— Jobs are not coming back to America. Factory salaries cannot compete with offshore $2-a-day employees. So-called “free-trade” is not free, because it prevents people from crossing borders, but not their labor.
— America is becoming poorer as tax laws continue to funnel resources from the rapidly shrinking middle class to the top economic echelons. Among industrial nations we lag either in last place or close to it in education, life expectancy, social services and health care. Our children will live shorter and poorer lives, than us. The American Dream, if not dead, is deeply wounded.
— The degradation of our environment will continue at a rapid pace. Those who deny global warming are the intellectual descendants of those who once believed the earth was flat, witches could be detected if they floated after being thrown into the river, Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs and the sun revolved around the earth.
— We need regulations. Deregulation has helped the economic elite but has brought death to the rest of us through unsafe food, medicine and consumer products.
— We must raise taxes on the rich. The Golden Age of American prosperity occurred during the 1950s and 1960s when the very wealthy paid the highest tax rates. Every economic segment got proportionately richer. Studies have proven this. Saying you can’t tax the “job creators” reveals a total lack of understanding about how the economy works. The 1 percent became wealthy by eliminating jobs and outsourcing them. Reducing their taxes doesn’t create jobs.
— We must move away from the military industrial complex. The U.S. military might supersedes the next 10 countries put together. As President Eisenhower — who knew something about military might — warned, every aircraft carrier built is a thief against those who need a schoolhouse.
— We must realize that the only way a divided nation can move forward is through compromise and negotiation. These acts are not signs of weakness — as we are led to believe — but rather, signs of maturity.
After the election, I’m sure I’ll have a thing or two to say about the outcome. But for now, regardless of who wins, it is important to honestly assess the challenges before us.