Considering the American Experiment

It has been two-hundred and twenty-three years since George Washington was elected the first president of these United States, and he opposed the formation of the our two-party system, and not surprisingly we are as divided as a nation as Jefferson and Hamilton were on Washington’s cabinet. The state of the American Experiment is nearly as it was in the founding – with one third leaning one way, one third leaning another and one third not caring at all about the freedom that has been handed to them.

The actual percent of voters that failed to cast ballots in the recent election was at 42.5% which means that more than the third, third, third rule failed to make it to the polls. This leads me to ask the proverbial ‘why?’

Beyond the normal arguments of race and other demographics, I see an even deeper meaning behind the lack of support for the two candidates. For the left, the answer is simple. The voters were discouraged by the state of our nation’s economy. And while they did not want to vote for the opposition, they did not want to vote for their party either – ten million of them.

For the right, there are many opinions. Mine is a very disturbing notion. I believe that the right’s failure to win this election is based on one of the principals that should have been eliminated from our political discourse long ago. I believe that many of the voters on the right made the conscious decision not to vote due to the candidate’s religion.

I place absolutely no weight on a candidate’s religious views, but I am the minority in that notion. Whether we like it or not, our nation is grounded in Christianity and has been since it’s founding. Though there has been much debate about the religion of our forefathers, it is widely believed that Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin (among others) were all Deists – the religion that I adopted in my twenties (much to my parent’s dismay). To my knowledge, and especially in the modern age, there has never been a president that professed any religion other than Christianity, and I believe that in and of itself was the tipping point of our recent election.

Prejudices of all kinds run through our nation like a plague on our freedoms. From race to religion, our decisions are not based in logic or informed reason but by the color of skin and professed beliefs. As such logic and informed reason have been reduced to short and provocative tag lines. Indeed our entire political discourse has been battered down and hammered out to form the perfect sound bite – the discussions of our future reduced to the length of a tweet, and all issues shortened to a hashtag.

Poetic words and spine tingling rhetoric about the goals and direction of our nation no longer exist in our get-it-now society. Even our communications with each other have been minimized to text messages containing bastardized words with no inflection.

In a world where a political endeavor can be squashed by one single slip of the tongue, is it any wonder that only the silver-ist, forked tongued among us even bother to run? The noble leaders of the past, whether real or romanticized, no longer exist.

The flowing words of Reagan and Lincoln would never fall on the ears of today’s voters. Reagan’s admonishment of big government would no longer read: “Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.” Instead we would get #nosubsidize or #taxit, or the new media would ignore the first line and claim that Reagan called for more taxes and subsidies and his words would be used against him in some disgusting political ad.

By the same logic Lincoln’s campaign would be reduced to #fourscore and #freeslaves.

Perhaps our discourse has progressed. Information is packed and sold in short bursts that are easy to follow with the inundation of our modern world. But I believe we all suffer from it and negativity flows through every aspect.

The issues of today that stir up our national debate are very disturbing. While we struggle through one of the worst economies in history, we still bicker over the rights of the unborn. This issue has been debated for generations and yet still it is used as a billy club by both sides. It will never be settled, never be quelled, and on my deathbed I will be able to turn on whatever device we use in the future and there will be yet another stupid comment from some stupid politician being used as fodder for either the Life or Choice side.

This issue though brings up what should be the main issue of any campaign. Follow the cash and you will discover the values. This is true with individuals, corporations and governments. Where we spend out money tells us what kind of entity we are.

Should governments fund behaviors that some deem repulsive? And that is the question that crosses the gamut of our political landscape. As more and more dollars flow toward the government, those that are footing the bill should have a choice about where those dollars are spent.

To force a Catholic to pay for birth control which is contrary to their beliefs is not the role of government. Am I to believe that providing free condoms is buried somewhere in the Constitution? That Government funded abortions are my responsibility to pay for out of my tax dollars? That a hundred and fifty year war on a plant is the best way to protect our nation? That subsidizing the lazy is the road to prosperity?

The upside of our recent election is that the government will remain stagnate. Our leader’s desire to belittle his opponents and the House’s inability to compromise will leave our government in a stalemate and as a consequence, they will not be able to pass more laws to limit our freedom.

Our growing national debt must be handled before we are reduced to rioting like other nations across the sea – the last time Americans argued with anything other than words, hundreds of thousands were left dead over a four year period and it took twelve years after that to put the nation back together.

Our tax code is irrevocably broken – stretched to the point where no one really knows how it works and nearly everyone is guilty of tax fraud because they do not understand it. Simpler ways have been proposed to fix or replace it, but all remain jammed up in committee and used for cannon fodder during elections to discredit those that support real tax reform. I want to vomit when I hear the ads telling people that so and so wants to raise sales taxes by 23% but fails to admit that in doing so the income tax would be eliminated.

The Fair Tax is by far the best solution for true tax reform that has been written. Everyone I talk to about it ends up saying ‘that makes so much sense. Why hasn’t it passed?’ And though I am a true believer in the Fair Tax, I would even support the Bank Transaction Tax or the Flat Tax so long as it eliminated the current tax code. The income tax has been so corrupted by years upon years of special deductions and so-called reform. All that remains is a horrible system that impugns success.

My mind is so weary from hearing about how the rich need to pay a little more when millions of people pay nothing at all and yet we still send them refunds – the word refund implies that you paid something in to begin with. What happens to our nation when those that are not paying anything at all finally out number those of us who do?

In the end, we re-elected the president. And unlike last time, I am wishing him the best. I truly hope that he is right because if he is not, we may not be able to repair the damage. As I look around the globe, I see the path of the European style government that our leader hopes we will follow, and I do not like the outcomes I am seeing. However, we are Americans and if anyone can pull it off, it is us. The Right is hoping upon nothingness that our leader will move toward the center in this term, but their hopes are just as full as the hope promised in 2008.

I will end with the words of Reagan, since he said it best. “If we lose freedom here, there’s no place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth.”

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1 Comment

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One response to “Considering the American Experiment

  1. nancy smith

    excellent article Jeremy. I agree that we should not vote for a person because of a religion, but we need to be careful that we do not have someone in power who’s religion dictates that we be eliminated. I was not happy that Romney was Morman, but I was more concerned with him being ethical and conservative fiscally. I too want the tax code to be changed to the fair tax and I was really annoyed that it was never brought up during the election cycle at all. I will keep pushing for it to all that will listen.

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