Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Republican Choice of Evil

Human beings wake up every morning and have some very important decisions to make: whether or not to be good. It’s not a given, after all. Any of us can wake up and do harm – engage in unsavory acts or activities. We can lie, cheat, steal, kill. We can violate our own moral codes – stretch them a little bit or throw them out the window in their entirety. We can do harm by both sins of omission and commission. And I mean sin not in any religious sense, but in its original sense of missing the mark.
We have to make these decisions every day. And we can make a wrong choice. Otherwise good people can lie to a spouse or a friend or family member, or steal a pen from the office or small items from hotels, or commit acts of unfaithfulness. Our bodies might tell us one thing but our minds must say another. As the old saying goes, the flesh is weak. People are capable of justifying almost any action. We can convince ourselves of a great many things, or be convinced of them by others. Sometimes the mind is weak as well, because we want to believe something is true or untrue, even when we know better.
But there is really no excuse for the bad things we do; no matter the degree we try to justify them to ourselves or to others we are still responsible for our actions. We can’t take our deeds back. There are no do-overs except in fiction. All we can do is try to do better. To try to make up for our actions. And we can take responsibility for them rather than doing as conservatives so often do: blaming society for their own weaknesses.
Which brings to mind the actions of Republican and Tea Partiers – and their attempted justifications – since the 2008 election cycle, but especially since the 2010 mid-term elections. We have carefully documented these actions here in a list that has grown by leaps and bounds since we first posted it. These are unarguably punitive actions – they are not designed to ease the stresses on the economy or to help people in any walk of life unless they are rich. They are all of them, including those directed at helping the rich, designed to hurt people.
People have to literally wake up and decide to hurt other people – to hurt the country itself. It is a conscious decision, not something that simply happens. The Republicans and Tea Partiers who, in state after state, have attacked our constitutional rights, who have attacked our right to vote, democracy itself, have done so in full knowledge of what they are doing and what they intend. They have openly announced their intention to ignore job creation until after the 2012 election.
There is no excuse for this, a blatantly political ploy to hurt President Obama with the entire United States and all of its citizens and the future of this country as collateral damage.
They say that lack of knowledge of the law is no excuse in breaking it. So too lack of knowledge in any field is no excuse. The knowledge is there, and more readily available than at any other time in history. To intentionally ignore what can be known, either through carelessness or deliberately, is no excuse. To deliberately distort, ignore, or even invent “facts” is inexcusable. Yet this has become common practice in conservative politics. Saying FOX News said so is no excuse. You can always fact check, or appeal to organizations that fact check for you, rather than simply accusing them of being the “enemy” and therefore to be ignored because they’re saying something you don’t want to hear
It is true that most politicians lie or stretch the truth at least a little, but conservatives have made a habit of it.
It’s difficult to believe that intelligent citizens of the 21st century honestly believe that “God” causes natural disasters. It’s possible, I suppose, that some do. Most likely it’s a deliberate attempt to motivate people through fear. It’s possible some people honestly don’t believe the overwhelming evidence in favor of anthropogenic global warming. More than a few are likely being paid – and paid well – to simply pretend the evidence is not convincing. There is money to be made, after all, in denial. It is a huge industry and it is being fed by conservative politics. Does anyone at all still really believe that cigarette smoke is not harmful? Really?
People make a conscious decision to be bad. To put money above morals, greed above evidence, self above the whole, even above their own children and descendents. As for the others, the evidence is there if they would only bother to look, and study it, dispassionately. That they refuse to do so can only be laid at the door of a conscious decision to do otherwise.
It is terribly sad that so large a segment of our population has chosen to opt out of the reality we all share. It’s there – out there – it is tangible, it is observable, it is testable and it can be comprehended by science and therefore by all of us. It is a conscious decision to ignore the scientific experts and trust those instead in the employ of those who stand to benefit by ignoring the experts. Don’t pretend it’s not.
Likewise, it is sad that so many people have chosen to hurt others by denying them, or seeking to deny them, their rights. They have likewise chosen to deprive people hurt by natural disasters, the poor, the elderly, children…all these people are being harmed by the decision to exclude, ignore, or directly harm them. All of us are diminished by these actions and the country itself is harmed, by people who have chosen to harm others rather than to help them.
Because so many people have decided to be bad citizens, it’s up to the rest of us to be better, to compensate for those who have chosen to work against rather than with the human community. In 2012, we will be carrying our own weight but also the weight of all those who have opted out, who have made the conscious decision to work against the common good in the Republican Party and in the Tea Party.
We must every day wake up and choose to be good, choose to do good, and choose to work for the good and we must be better than we have ever been. We cannot afford to fail. The price will be too high. And this leads to the obvious question: why would America vote for the party that’s willing to hurt America simply to get back in power?

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