Do You Remember These Folks?
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Do You Remember These Folks? • Posted: Jun 30, 2019 19:34:35Comments WelcomeVote CoolPhotoblogsPurchase a PrintShare

Like many people, I listened to the US Democratic Presidential Candidates’ Debate this week. And, I listened to and read some of the analysis in the days following. I think we have a problem and I’m not sure what can be done about it.

I ask you: what is the purpose of government “of the people, by the people, for the people”? And, is government, any government, really necessary?

I ask those questions because it is beginning to seem like there are far too many people in this country who have never asked such questions, much less considered what kind of answers they’d actually approve of.

Now rules, rules are different, and widely understood. Rules keep “bad things” from happening. At least, that’s how rules are commonly understood. And, it is increasingly held that rules provide the basis for a game, a game where breaking and bending the rules, without getting caught of course, can yield a kind of satisfaction, a sense that one is not always on the losing end of things. The problem comes when playing the break-the-rules game, and winning at it, becomes more important than keeping “bad things” from happening. It’s a problem because people get hurt. Consider the consequences for people playing the anti-vaccination game. Consider the consequences for people playing the avoid-paying-taxes game. Consider the consequences for people playing the dump-your-garbage-in-the-nearest-stream game, padding expense accounts, substituting inferior materials, doing less than quality work, shorting workers on overtime and benefits. Consider the consequences when our elected President and Senate leadership celebrate break-the-rules “winning” as more important than whether or not people get hurt.

I have to wonder if more than 200 years into the experiment of government “of the people, by the people, for the people” the actual people may have lost the ability to mentally separate and choose between personal gain and common good. I have to wonder if maybe evolution hasn’t dumbed us down so much that government “of the people, by the people, for the people” is no longer possible. I have to wonder if maybe ruleless anarchy may be more inevitable than climate change.

The above images were made near the end of the Obama administration, just before the campaigns began to be his replacement. They were a reminder that not everyone was seeing improvements in their standard of living, despite the sustained and disciplined but frustratingly gradual economic recovery crafted by Obama, Bernanke, and their team of advisors. En masse, they brought us from a frighteningly bad place to a pretty good one for many many of our citizens. But, not everybody saw or felt the progress. The very people depicted above likely saw Trump as an antidote to the seemingly constipated progress of the Obama administration. And so, he was elected. But, what we then saw was discipline for the common good totally abandoned in favor of “winning” at a break-the-rules game. With Trump leading by example, we are now on the very edge of widespread ruleless anarchy. Even the Democratic Candidates’ Debate at times looked and felt like howling anarchy. Is that really the kind of world we want to live in next? And, have our brains so atrophied that there is no choice to be made anymore, that ruleless anarchy is the only possibility before us?

I don’t know about you, but I need a drink. Or, at least a very long bike ride.

Monday, July 20th, 2015
Mount Vernon