Republicans and Democrats are so far apart these days, one wonders if there is any hope left for a stable government.
In trying to understand the conservative mind, and especially the Tea Party brand, I am indebted to my friend, The Erstwhile Conservative. In a comment on his own blog he happened to mention a site called The Patriot Post, a blend of libertarianism and fundamentalist Christianity. Michelle Bachman would feel right at home there. Probably does.
Back when I was a political neophyte, libertarian philosophy sounded appealing. Rugged individualism and self-reliance were simple virtues, never mind that those who approach the pinnacle of success are invariably assisted by a foundation of stable government, efficient policing, social institutions, financial principles, expensive infrastructure, and other people’s inventions. Newton’s observation applies, we do stand on the shoulders of giants, but we also stand on the shoulders of the many who served merely by resolutely doing their own small part. How easy it is to overlook them.
Virtually every facet of our lives today is balanced, more precariously than we know, atop pyramids of technology and trial-and-error engineering, and yet so many have the hutzpah to think their success is mostly their own making. I can think of a couple of examples, both of which owe thanks to numerous inventions and government-funded R&D.
I still remember, back in 1962, when one of our neighbors got one of the first color TV sets. It was a massive console and they were cautioned that it could not be moved even a fraction of an inch without affecting its sensitive color balance and need a technician to readjust it. Now the pictures in iPads rival the best photography.
Also in those times gyroscopes were integral to ship navigation, heavy mechanical/electrical equipment prone to occasional failure. These days the gyro effect is purely electronic, contained on a single microchip, immensely more reliable, no moving parts, and imbedded in millions of smart phones.
Evidence of the Patriot Post’s thinking on society is found in their “statement of principles”:
The Cycle of Democracy follows this sequence:
From bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty (rule of law);
From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency;
From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence;
From dependence back into bondage (rule of men).
Ah, if it were only so simple. This credo implies that abundance is antithetical to success, but strangely, people who advocate this can’t seem to get enough abundance themselves. Sloth, complacency and apathy do exist of course, but it’s wrong to assume that lack of success is due to a lack of character. It is a mistake to ignore the vicissitudes that assailed the journey, and to be intolerant of those whose religions and cultures are different. The human condition is not simple, it is as complex as economics itself. Ignoring that is arrogant, and so is assuming that the quality of life on the bottom rungs is unimportant to the well-being of those at the top of the ladder. Ladders can be shaky.
Patriot: the person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about. – Mark Twain
If we love our country, we should also love our countrymen. – Ronald Reagan