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One-party system needs one more

Tuesday, January 11, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 3:26 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 3, 2008

Some of my neighbors are absolutely delighted that one of the things we left behind in the old year was two-party government. They are thrilled with the idea that there are no more worrisome checks and balances that have to be dealt with. A concerned friend keeps trying to warn people about the dangers of that kind of situation to no avail. She keeps talking about what happened in Hitler’s Germany, but of course, that’s history and thought to be therefore dead and buried. Still, I’m glad she has the courage to keep trying, even though it seems like a hopeless case.

One party government has always been a mistake, even though it works in favor of some individuals. I remember how thrilled people were in the Reagan era when they felt everything was coming up roses. Personally, I believe that the corporate corruption that we have been experiencing in the past few years has is roots in the deregulation process that symbolized for me, the Reagan years. The reality of a handful of individuals owning the huge chunk of the nation’s wealth, while the rest of the people struggle over a tiny part of it, I find morally and ethically unhealthy.

And despite the constant litany about returning the country to Christian principles, I truly doubt that there is anyone in the civilized world who hasn’t been made aware by way of television and motion pictures of the American media’s preoccupation with sex and money. This, naturally, reverts back to the old chicken-egg question about which came first. Some would say that media only reflects societal behavior and others would say that media influences societal behavior. Although many would accuse the liberal part of our society for this situation, other people contend that conservatives own most of the media.

Those of us who are independently moderate don’t care who’s responsible, we’d just like to see the airways and the movie industry cleaned up. I haven’t, however, forgotten the lesson I learned from a conservative fundamentalist friend (I have a lot of those) who shared with me that in matters of business, he kept his religion and business practices in separate compartments. I’m amazed at the number of people who operate in this fashion. Frankly, I don’t think money, sex and politics make for a good mixture even when people feel good about it.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve been a Christian all my life and too much God-talk has always made me nervous. It’s been my experience that when you have to keep talking about it, it means that your behavior is not speaking the same language as your mouth. Even if Martin Luther King Jr., for example, had never mentioned justice and righteousness, his willingness to go to jail for his beliefs spoke volumes. The one thing my religious education taught me was that my work was always with myself and didn’t extend into dictating to other people what they should or should not do with their bodies so long as they were not harming anyone else (able to have a Social Security number). So, what I’m, saying here is that government embracing faith-based ministries doesn’t do anything for me. I don’t want the government in my religious business. The Caesar/God combo won’t work for me. Having a one political party government won’t change my mind about that, OK?

I pay close attention these days to the opinions of individuals because it seems to me our viewpoints are reflecting more of our deeply rooted cultural distinctions than they have in previous years. When the economy is good for everyone and the country is generally upbeat, I think we tend to be more generous and open-minded in our attitudes. I think in a shaky economy and a mean and bitter political climate we tend to draw on old, buried emotions and cultural differences to shape our reactions. So there’s another thing we have to deal with.

We talk lot about illiteracy and about the reasons an uneducated populace cannot sustain a democracy, but I don’t think we believe that a turn of events would occur to test our belief. I think we are fooling ourselves. I think we are losing grounds educationally and we are not being encouraged to get serious in our fight for literacy. Those of us who are fortunate to live near colleges and universities where we have access to serious academic discussions must stop taking for granted that the general public have access to the information they need to make informed decisions. The majority rely almost solely on national television as their primary information source. As a people who need to remain alert to what is transpiring in the world around us, for our safety and the safety of our loved ones, do we dare to risk acting on infotainment in the absence of available intelligence?

To some, diverse thoughts, ideas and opinions are a threat today. Will they be a menace tomorrow? If we are to be truly the hope of the world, we need to get about the business of getting our house in order. If we are serious, for example, about securing our democracy, we need to make literacy a No. 1 priority. Educated people know the value of a loyal opposition. It keeps people honest.

It also keeps them free. Think about it.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at nolen@iland.net.


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