Sunday, August 19 , 2018, 7:31 am | Fog/Mist 68º


Randy Alcorn: Caught in an Eddy of Political Flotsam

Don't look to the duopoly to cede its power for our greater good

President Barack Obama’s first State of the Union address was impressive in its eloquence, confrontational force and stern sincerity. He faced his critics head on, chastised them and challenged them to help find solutions to the nation’s pending problems. With seemingly effortless rhetorical jujitsu he rebutted the droning negative propaganda that has been directed at him since the very day he took office.

Randy Alcorn
Randy Alcorn

Although I did not vote for Obama, I think he really does want to do right by the nation. Sadly, I don’t think he’ll have much success with that as evidenced by the vulgar displays of partisanship during his address — smug posturing and muffled jeers from Republicans, the obligatory exuberant applause from Democrats, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., beaming like a giddy cheerleader, clapping enthusiastically every time Obama cleared his throat.

Immediately following Obama’s address came the predictable fusillade of caustic cynicism from the right-wingers — the same old doctrinaire hyperbole about socialism, big government and profligate spending. If Obama found $12 trillion in gold under the White House floorboards and paid off the national debt, Republicans would condemn him for damaging the building and not using the money to fund “trickle down” tax breaks.

It is grimly amusing how the minority party always thinks it is so smart, but when it becomes the majority it is just as stupidly ineffective as the party it replaced. Both parties have engaged in profligate spending, increased the size of government, and created dubiously grandiose social programs.

Ostensibly, the partisan gridlock in government is about serious ideological differences, “principles” as politicians like to say, but really it is about elitism. Those who have power and money, however they have come by it, not only want to keep it, they also want more of it. Human greed and ambition are as boundless as the ever-expanding universe. Our nation’s founders understood this and took prudent precautions when constructing the Constitution.

But, the duopoly wants us to believe that the fight is all about the critical importance of “principles” particularly which social-economic ideology should prevail, as if pure collectivism or pure free-market capitalism were viable economic models. Neither works outside the lab, and in the field both quickly degenerate into venal elitism.

The 70-year experiment with communism conducted by the Soviet Union sank that “evil empire” into an economic abyss from which it is still struggling. Only the Communist Party elite benefited; the serfs remained serfs, only they were called comrades. And, in communist China, the party elite preserved its privileged status by pragmatically diluting collectivism with a particularly predatory brand of capitalism.

Meanwhile, 19th- and 20th-century attempts at pure free-market capitalism resulted in cancerous concentrations of power and wealth whereby avaricious monopolies controlled by plutocrats crushed aspiring competition. This reality can be observed today with the drug cartels in Mexico and Columbia. These cartels thrive in unregulated free markets; witness how nicely that works.

America is not going to embrace either extreme of these ideologies. But conniving politicians from the duopoly parties find that bitter ideological squabbling provides an effective distraction that enables achieving their ultimate goal — maintaining power and wealth for themselves and their moneyed clients.

The solutions to the nation’s problems are not found at the extremes of ideology, they are found somewhere in between or in a whole new direction where reason prevails. Such solutions are unlikely forthcoming from the current entrenched, two-party system, especially now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that corporations and unions can spend as much as they like to buy government.

Conventional political punditry ascribes pandemic voter discontent to the recent election of a Republican to the Senate seat of the late Democrat patriarch, Ted Kennedy. Based on this upset election, the once again disillusioned electorate is now expected to make a great rush to the Republican Party. But, the electorate just made a great rush to the Democratic Party after the disaster of President George W. Bush and the neocon Republicans. This is like an eddy moving flotsam back and forth on a political sea. Democrats or Republicans, either way the nation ends up with garbage, but the people are mollified for a while because they think they have voted in change.

However, nothing really changes. The two political parties have become vehicles for the entrenched special-interest elite to control government and thus maintain their positions of privilege. They throw around the words, “the American people,” as if it were confetti, as if they really know or care about the general welfare or what the people want. If they did, the nation would not be in the mess it is in today — dangerously in debt, with a house-of-cards economy, fighting needless wars, eroded constitutional freedoms, and a health-care system based on luck.

You want change? You will not get it from Democrats or Republicans. We need a party of reason.

— Santa Barbara political observer Randy Alcorn can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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