John Adams, one of our great founding fathers, warned future generations of the dangers of human nature to the foundations of our Republic. Man’s willingness to be led and the danger of selfishness, was his warning about our potential demise as a Republic. We are now witnessing the use of selfishness and the willingness to be led by Ronald Reagan and his followers to our great peril.
We see the results today, as we have literally become a nation that can’t and won’t fix anything. We sit idly by as our infrastructure crumbles, bemoaning the fact, but doing nothing to fix problems never the less.
The former President, Ronald Reagan, on one hand spoke about taking personal responsibility but then with the other hand demeaned the value of government for the common good. In many cases only the federal government has the ability to fund and pay for what are the needs of a nation. Trickle down became the economic mantra. The result was the destruction of the Middle Class. Reagan was the friend of Big Business. His Kitchen Cabinet had nothing in common with anyone else’s kitchen.
Let’s look at the Gross National debt percentage visa vi the GDP. From a peak of 120% during the war years under FDR., each presidency until Ronald Reagan saw a gradual decline in our national debt. Under President Reagan, he lowered the peak tax rate from 70% to 28%, but with the lower revenue and increased expenditures we witnessed the increase in our debt from a 28% debt relationship with GDP to 40% and this increase continued under George Herbert Walker Bush where the percentage went up to 48%. Stockman, the Budget Director, under Reagan blamed the ideological tax rate cutters for the increased imbalance pertaining to our national debt.
The insidious nature of the increase in military spending, became the proverbial nose of the elephant in the room. Instead of being a true conservative and following the wishes of the founders regarding not having a strong, permanent standing army, Ronald Reagan, insured what would appear to be a permanent military, industrial, complex. The monetary influence of the military and its industrial contractors over our Congressmen and women became toxic to our well being. The Wall may have fallen but at what cost. In order to feed the military industrial complex we must continue to create new enemies to justify the military’s strength and budget as well as its existence. This triad of the military, industrial complex and the bought and paid for Congress is not healthy to our Democracy. I can not think of one founding father that wanted a permanent standing army due to its perceived and actual threat to our Republic and to our Democracy.
The President preached about the greatness of individualism and the cult of the individual began to once again rear its ugly head. The result of the resurrection of this old dogma has been radicalization of our culture. We have become the generation of greed and selfishness. It has become all about me. It has become the world of materialism where only corporate profits matter. Patriotism has disappeared from most of the corporate world, as companies no longer care about what is best for America but rather what is best for the bottom line.
Ronald Reagan encouraged mightily the notion that a solution to our problems was to believe and act on being a rugged individual.
Theodore Roosevelt wrote about the evils of absolute individualism. The following quote from “The Outlook XCI,” year, 1909, pages 619- 623, serves to define his feelings about individualism: “Every step toward civilization is marked by a check on individualism. The ages that have passed have fettered the individualism which found expression in physical violence, and we are now endeavoring to put shackles on that kind of individualism which finds its expression in craft and greed. ………If the world progresses as we hope and believe it will progress, the standards of conduct which permit individuals to make money out of pestilential tenements or by the manipulation of stocks, or to refuse to share with their employees the dreadful burdens laid upon the latter by the inevitable physical risks in a given business, will seem as amazing to our descendants as we now find the standards of a society.”
Roosevelt would probably find it hard to believe that in the 21st Century, our current society, the descendants of the children caught up in child labor, would repeat the mistakes of the past and use cheap labor, foreign labor, to the detriment of America and its Middle Class. But then again, he could not have anticipated the influence of a smooth and good looking actor becoming President of the United States.
Who would believe that a showman, Ronald Reagan, would sell the American people on the idea that individualism and greed were good for America and that government was bad and Evil for America? I guess the fact is that selling a candidate is similar to Ronald Reagan selling Borax on his television show,”Death Valley Days.” A sucker is born every minute and you can sell a bad bar of soap or a political philosophy that is toxic to the health of our Democracy if only you have enough money behind it and a charismatic figure, Ronald Reagan, to sell you on an idea against your own interests.
President Reagan and his minions have used religion in a cynical way. Professing to be against abortion, they have used the concerns of many fundamentalists’ Christians to win elections. They have preached a good sermon about abortion but Roe V. Wade is still the law of the land.
Loving thy neighbor as thyself has been replaced by the church of what’s happening now. Morality has disappeared and it has been replaced by megachurches. Humility and moderation have disappeared and in their place are the ministers of a false faith in materialism. As long as you are forgiven it is okay to be wealthy. Christ would want you to be wealthy. The Sermon on the Mount has been sold and the sermon of taking away the loaves of bread from the hungry is now the message of the day.
Instead of being good custodians of the Earth, these self professed followers of Ronald Reagan’s brand of Conservatism, have overseen a campaign to denude the Earth and fatten corporate profits to the destruction of our environment. For 35 years there has been a concerted effort to destroy the people’s faith in government and in the EPA. The profits of Big Oil has been extolled as a value and the campaign to lower the peoples faith in science has increased so that the very future of our EARTH has been put in doubt.
Our moral decay is illustrated today, September 15. A self described Christian, Eric Erickson, of the RedState blog, said that the Syrians who are part of the great human tragedy of people seeking asylum should be armed and sent back to Syria. Just Great! Let’s just send these wrecks of human misery back to where they came from! What an example of Christian love and charity, not.
Our future is in the balance. All is not lost as we are living during a time in which a titanic struggle for the soul of America is occurring. Do not be a sunshine patriot.
We could be going the way of the Roman Empire and decline further into a morass of moral, political and economic decay. Each of us holds within us the possibility of changing the future of our country. We are a resilient people. Our founders build a system that is resilient. Each citizen has a responsibility for our own children and our future generations to save our Republic by being good citizens. Take responsibility and become active and vocal in the enterprise of whether or not we wish to regain our Republic from the oligarchs.
Yes, we could sit on the sidelines of history. We could sit at home watching television, watching the tide of history roll by. Or we could as others have done before rise up and take back our Democracy and our Republic. We owe it to those who have died to make our country better to try to make a difference. We owe a debt to our ancestors and we have a moral obligation to future generations of Americans to continue to work to make our Union more perfect and to make our Nation better for all Americans.