Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The End Of Ethics

Whether or not it turns out that Trump resorted to bribery, in the form of US aid, to pressure the Ukrainians to investigate Joe Biden's son, it is yet another example of an impeachable offense. The Mueller report's evidence of obstruction of justice.  Violation of the Emoluments Clause through money paid by foreign officials to Trump's hotel chain.  Hush money, breaking campaign finance law, given to a porn star by a fixer, something our president at first denied knowledge of, but then admitted.  The list could be expanded.  And yet neither the Democrats nor the Republicans stand up.  Neither will do what's right, even when faced with an urgent threat to the very nature of our country and its dignity. 

The Constitution  provides checks and balances for dealing with a perilous president.  None of those have been employed.  Oaths to protect the Constitution have not been honored.  The implication is that there is no faith in the nation's core values among our congressional leaders.  Our most cherished principles are seen, at best, as feeble tools, and at worst as loadstones. 

Implicit in the dismissal of standards like equality, truth and justice is another force just as chilling:  a denigration of the American people themselves.  There's no confidence among our leaders that confronting  a would-be tyrant will result in effective public support.  Instead of trying to lead, instead of trying to change minds and hearts, the politicians cower.  Instead of being ethical, instead of asserting the spirit of freedom that made America a marvelous, maverick nation, a daring champion of a higher state--rationalism above monarchy--our leaders acquiesce while a would-be monarch grows more emboldened and reckless.

Our leaders now endorse, de facto, the corrupt tactics that flow from Trump like an incessant stream of noxious sludge.  Demagoguery.  Duplicity.  Division.  Our president has brought everyone down into the muck of darkest cynicism.  His provocations keep pulling us deeper, toward a place where we cannot recover our torch of freedom and light.  It's an abyss without virtue, where the norm is to get away with whatever you can, to sow chaos, spread ignorance, and revel in double standards in a quest for plaudits, power and spotlights.

The Republicans, who once called Trump out, have utterly fallen at his feet in lickspittle subservience.  They have joined his quest to create a fiction-fueled hierarchy, one based on loyalty, not truth.  Part of this loyalty requires an aggressive, passionate defense of Trump, regardless of his behavior.  It was a soul-crushing moment when the GOP capitulated.  It will go down in US history as one of the worst.  We don't know exactly why they did it.  A cynic would say to gain their own little perch in the kleptocratic pyramid.

The Democrats are the best hope to inject decency back into politics.  And yet they evince exceptional spinelessness.  Stymied by the quotidian numbness of an obdurate Nancy Pelosi, they do nothing.  And as long as they do nothing, they kneel before Trump's view of human nature:  that to act for a higher cause, to seek the good, is to be foolish and weak, even in defense of one of humanity's greatest achievements:  the conception, enactment and evolution of human rights.

While our leaders cower in pathetic fear, or hop on the bandwagon of white nationalism, Trump wheedles help from foreign governments to influence our next election.  He usurps the congressional power of the purse to build his wall.  At this point, the politicians on both sides are fully repugnant.  They need to lead, to wake up the spirit of freedom in the populace, not fret about statistics and polls.  Otherwise, they surrender to a heavy premise, one that takes America back to a time before 1776:  the idea that humanity simply wasn't meant to be free, honest, or ethical.


Sunday, September 1, 2019

Fascism Rises

In this age of the recrudescence of fascism, there is just one lesson to learn:  that the human race cannot afford it.  Charismatic leaders who summon visions of halcyon times to manipulate a targeted slice of the population are not only narcissists; they are required to be beyond reproach or shame.  That is how the dynamic works.  The chosen people go all-in on a messianic savior.  Leader and follower spin each other in a centrifuge of mind-narrowing ideology.

A faith-propped fascist is not concerned for future generations or even reality.  The goal isn't a strong country on the world stage.  It is self-aggrandizement.  Success in this goal insures dysfunction.   Instead of facing the titanic magnitude of the Amazon burning, the leader of Brazil blames liberals and demands apologies.  Donald Trump pulls the USA out of the Paris Accord, ignoring scientific consensus on global warming.

It has been said that in the nuclear age, war itself is the true enemy.  And yet Modi, envisioning India as a nationalistic Hindu country, eliminates the Kashmir's special status with police state tactics, shutting off internet and other media, while cordoning the area block by block.  This enrages Pakistan.  Both India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons and a history of modern, violent conflicts.  The repression in Kashmir is a reckless gambit in which no doubt there is some significant probability of sparking nuclear war.  Maybe it is even something like 1% or 10% or more.  We don't know.  No one does.

As worshipped fascists multiply, feeding off of fear and spreading us-vs-them extremism, the possibility of nuclear armageddon grows.  Two fanatic governments, neither able to back down, rattling sabers at each other, except now the sabers are ICBMs.

We can't do this.  For both military and environmental reasons, we can't abide fascist demagogues, The dynamic of a god-like leader with unthinking followers is inevitably cataclysmic.  The technologies we control now, and the eco-habits we develop, coupled with a population of 7.7 billion and growing, are self-destructive without farsighted wisdom.  They are too capable of inflicting a scale of tragedy never before seen in the history of civilization.  Martin Luther King, Jr. was right when he said we "are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny."

The only things that can save us are the advancement of reason and ethics.  Both are completely compatible with spirituality and emotion.  Indeed, they require them.  The more politics drifts away from the real and virtuous--the more it becomes about acquiring power for the in-group at the expense of the 'enemy'--the more evil it becomes.  Hate-mongering, race-baiting, misogyny, military repression, Orwellian mind games, and the cynicism of parasitic, plutocratic greed--all these and more result when ethics is abandoned for the national manifestation of egotism , which is fascism.

All countries have flaws and can learn from others.  What diversity teaches us is that people are amazingly malleable.  A great deal depends on how they are taught.  Think of this:  No human being born yet, not a single one, has ever been raised in a truly good society.  How would we turn out if we were?  We've made progress.  Incredible progress that many in the past called impossible.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if we gave future generations a chance to get closer and closer to the ideal?