by Elliott Stonecipher
Lord, how simple. How loud and clear are the meaning of those three words to some – few? – of us. How important they are and have been throughout human history. The words powerfully remind some of us how the rarest gifts of life come when and as we chose to serve the all of us, precisely for the sake of such service.
In the past few weeks, Americans, along with others around the world who most love and most hate us, have seen a powerful demonstration of the opposite, the service of self. Too many of our nation’s leaders have crowded onto the American stage to perform this nasty burlesque, and this side of criminality, nothing could have more condemned the most powerful of our national leaders. Newspaper columnist and online journalist Bob Mann puts the matter in perhaps the most evocative context – how to explain this awful display to America’s children – in his piece for yesterday’s Times-Picayune. I recommend it highly.
As those who care are reading and watching and hearing, unprecedented numbers are saying, “Enough!” Time, we know, is not on America’s side. This has gone on too long, and is certain to continue until something happens, likely something very bad. It seems to many that the jury of the sane and responsible is in: these men and women of the U. S. Congress and White House, collectively, cannot save themselves or their political parties, much less our nation.
We need not unnecessarily rehash the ongoing nastiness or its supposed causes. I say supposed for a reason. What Americans are told by scads of partisan mouthpieces are the root causes are not … not really. Yes, yes, it is true that public money and erroneously named “entitlements” are the core issue. Republicans and most other Americans rightly want to curb the apparently insatiable spending appetites of most Democrats. Most Republicans, too, hope we ignore the fact that their jihad against our obscene national debt – likely an existential threat to America – should have been fought by themselves and others in Congress when majorities voted to spend it, not after it’s spent.
As I say, yes, yes, to all of that. In fact, however, the real cause of this purposeful irresponsibility by government at all levels is this: via leases with four-year terms, profiteers joined at the hip with political partisans now lease in intended perpetuity the nation’s governmental apparatus. They call America’s public tune and control the political orchestra in accompaniment of their hellish hoedown. Like carnival barkers – “Watch the show!” “Oh, the awful fight!!” “The Republican devils and the Democrat fiends!!!” – these most polished of life’s self-servers take advantage of the mainly passive and far too uninformed status of the American citizenry. With more and more ease, these slicksters have hijacked the governance of our nation. In them is, more or less proudly, no awareness, memory, or practice of service to the greater good.
Do I know public officials who are honest, decent, hard-working and likely very much aware of what “the greater good” means? Absolutely. Nevertheless, most public officials, any longer, simply chose sides: Republican or Democrat, Labor or Not, Black or White, female or male, and so forth. The laudable path would be to choose the side of the greater public good, while loudly and proudly eschewing those other choices and explaining to the public how to recognize them. Thus, as any elected official argues or votes for longer terms in office, pay for what was always intended to be public service, obstacles to governmental transparency, etc., their real devotion to self-service is proven.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans want a “grand bargain” on government debt and the deficit from our current members of Congress, President Obama, and the sizable army of Congressional and White House staff who have forgotten they work for plain Americans, not lobbyists and other profiteers. Quickly reaching that bargain is where service for the greater good might begin. The bad news is that we no longer believe such can be accomplished, precisely as was last the case in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The good news is that each day now brings more Americans to an understanding of the danger we face, and, as after Pearl Harbor and the Twin Towers, the necessary remedies and attached sacrifices. Unlike in other such instances, though, we are now the enemy at our own shores. American soldiers and their families will not make these sacrifices for us.
Some of us, myself included, have spent years studying and learning these causes and the most promising remedies. I now think of these lessons, which I have practiced for many years, as a kind of Save America catechism. Here are the basics:
1. Vote. There’s no polite way to say this: if you don’t go vote right along with the few of us who always do, you are serving the interests of the worst of the politicians now in office. They count on you and thank you for their continuing disservice.
2. Vote smart. Take the time to learn and thereby make certain you vote for the greater good. Majorities of districts of Americans voted each of the most objectionable politicians in DC and everywhere else into those used-to-be respectable positions.
3. Almost never vote for an incumbent. This is your personal commitment to term limits that count. Unless an office holder demonstrates – which will make waves if it happens – that they know their particular political baliwick is not committed to the greater good, do not vote to re-elect them. What matters is that non-self-servers raise hell in public about what is wrong, and what it will honestly take to fix it. The growing national sentiment is “throw ’em all out.” Such would be an excellent start.
4. Change your voter registration to whatever is non-partisan in your state. Drop-out of the insanity, and make it count. Such instantly becomes the card you carry which proves you have the game figured out, and really and truly want to save this nation from itself.
5. Think American, not partisan. Non-partisan i.d. card in hand, school your thinking. Remember that no partisan group is able, by definition, to serve the greater good. To be partisan is to be prejudiced in favor of service to some particular few.
A great truth is that the only way to stop the game is to stop it. Those who have played key roles in bringing Americans to this place in time can never do that. The game, the ruse, is what profits them, and by now it is likely beyond their control. Only we can stop the game. At this point, such would be little if any less than a second American revolution.
Elliott Stonecipher’s reports and commentaries are written strictly in the public interest, with no compensation of any kind solicited or accepted. Appropriate credit to Mr. Stonecipher in the unedited sharing of his work is requested and appreciated.