The election has passed, the sun is not blotted out by the class-size amendment, and all is right with the world. Birds gotta sing, fish gotta swim, and you gotta eat.
So, life goes on, no? Yes, but closer to Hobbes’ state of nature than most of us might like.
Now that we’ve seen a substantial Republican victory, many, if not most, of the levers of political power are in GOP hands. Given recent history, it is fair to say we will see more of the past few years’ dismantling of government. Those favoring the new order will say that is wonderful as we break free from the shackles of feckless nannyism and overprotection. The masses who pay the taxes, however, will soon see that government is the bulwark against chaos in their lives.
In the next few years, we are likely to see GOP-enacted changes that will reduce our personal and economic security far beyond the next election cycle. In the name of reducing taxes and war and privatization, we will see them shrink the parts of government that keep us from being fleeced in the marketplace, that keep our air and water clean, that allow all of us to strive higher through education and merit and that allow aberrations to be corrected in court. With the argument that we are a self-made nation, those who have inherited wealth and power will see to it their heirs do likewise, at the expense of the nation. Those of us on the outside will be cast farther out to fend for ourselves in a game where the house always wins.
Who can we blame for this? Ourselves, mostly, for enough of us drank the Kool-Aid of Republican promises instead of thinking about what is really going on. Sure the Democrats cowered and bleated out miniature protestations while ignoring significant danger. But the voters did the dirty deed, and only a tiny fraction of them will enjoy the results. We really are our own worst enemy.
Ah, but there’ll be a chance to correct these ills in two years’ time. Sure, overturning senseless tax cuts will foul the discussion, the appointment of conservative judges will confound reforms, and deficit spending on bombs and cops will undermine the economy and make investment in productive capacity – human especially – problematic for a generation or more. The well is poisoned. And in the state of nature, good water is what the animals fight over most.
Ironically, Hobbes’ antipathy to chaos was an argument for a powerful monarch, which is what we Americans are leaning toward right now. Most people will say, however, that ours is a democracy ordered by the people, not the powerful. If reality in the marketplace is not enough evidence to the contrary, perhaps we can rely on another foreigner for insight into this illusion through an observation from across the pond:
“The English people believes itself to be free; it is gravely mistaken; it is free only during election of members of parliament; as soon as the members are elected, the people is enslaved.”– Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Paul Swider is a USF student. Swider@earthlink.net