Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Wisconsin and the Middle East

February 28, 2011

Wisconsin and the Middle East. Two places, so dissimilar, but with a common bond so strong it is undeniable. Can you guess what that commonality might be?

People in both of those places are now revolting against their governments.

I’d be among the first to agree that elections have consequences. In Wisconsin and other states, voters were faced with difficult choices where the outcomes might express more or less than the choice on which they voted. But, governments are more complicated in their governing than the opinions which got them elected. It is truly difficult to understand what issue or issues caused any voter to make their (often binary) decision. When a politician uses that decision as a claim for everything they personally deem within their own voting purview. I cringe and shudder.

Likewise, when Middle Eastern despots claim their right to absolute rule, I can understand the reaction of those of their people who want them gone. The protests in Wisconsin have taught me.

We – all of us everywhere – seem to have little patience for those who govern. We have no tolerance for others with an opinion unlike ours. And since most people lie in the middle of the proverbial bell-shaped curve, we are now a planet ruled everywhere by extremists. Fundamentalists of every description. Religious fundamentalists, Christian, Moslem, and Jewish want us to obey their versions of correct behavior. Political extremists of every kind claim the right to govern us, even when the issue at hand has little to do with what voters were thinking when they elected the politician. Without consensus, economic and financial experts claim they know best the regulations we should permit, even though most of us haven’t the skill to understand to follow their apparently well-disguised intentions.*

Special interests and greed continue to own unmitigated power. Whether it is duly elected Republican governors in the United States, desiring to eliminate the right of labor unions to collective bargaining, or despotic rulers of poverty stricken countries who have privately pocketed funds that might have been used to elevate the education level of their citizens, the result widens the gap between the socio-economic lives of the richest and poorest of us.

It is ironic, then, that this intended result has the unfortunate unintended consequence of the likelihood of massive political unrest and upheaval. We’ve all witnessed the revolts across the Middle East. I predict we’ll see voters revolt across America in the 2012 elections. Why? Because, the majority of voters are moderates, while left and right-wing extremists dominate the news. If Americans cannot find a moderate candidate to vote for, the extremists elected from the party that lost the previous election will once again again claim that they were elected to put in place their own extremist agenda.

The solution in both the Middle East and in America is moderation. Back in the 1950s, we had moderates practicing a moderate form of politics, promoting moderate religious views, practicing moderately regulated banking and economics, and life was good. I fear we’ll never see the likes of those days again.

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