By Bob Hoyt
Thomas Paine wrote, in Common Sensein 1776: “our wisdom, there is a visible feebleness in some of our proceedings which gives encouragement to dissensions.” Our contemporary feebleness includes bucketsful of Distinctions without Differences. Currently prominent among them is: “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Equivalents masquerade as logic in much civil and uncivil discourse. Imagining science and religious dogma to be equally valid tools in the pursuit of measurable reality is another blatant false equivalent.
How about: “We are a republic, not a democracy?” True, we can’t be a democracy when piles of corporate money are propping up partisan folly and suppressing votes by gerrymandering. Big Money Baggers (BMBs) have trouble accepting a leader they couldn’t buy—one who was elected freely and equally by all citizens and who is committed to the common good. But there are no signs that BMBs will shrink back into their britches and retreat into their Whack-a-Mole holes.
A republic is a government where the people select a group of men or women to represent their differing interests. We are not a republic now, either, because moneyed corporations and special interests exert more control over government than do the votes of the people. Or, maybe we’re a corporate republic now that the Supreme Court says that corporations are people. Most voters want more control over sales of assault weapons, less access to them and sane ammunition clip limits. But when the NRA sputters for more guns with longer clips, most of Congress gets in line to kiss the NRA’s boots. Should we accept leadership from corporations and forget Congress?
It’s common to hear that the current administration is imposing socialism. That’s a honey of a false equivalent. Socialism is an idealistic system of communal ownership. The present administration is not intent on doing away with private property and giving government the job of making goods. That is not to say that we don’t already have a form of socialism. And those who say they hate socialism the most would raise a great national yowl if they had to part with their social security checks and public assistance for relatives in need of food.
So, how can we disperse this smokescreen? Borrowing a phrase from politics: “It’s the common ground, stupid.” Our country could be at the edge of its best years. But if we’re to practice what we pretend to believe, more citizens must stop doing things to others that they don’t want done to themselves.
And, Congressional Lone Rangers need to find the head-end of their pachyderms and jackasses and quit trotting backwards. Congressional leaders need to learn how to steer and dig their spurs into the right places so they don’t keep riding full speed, and rear first, into one brick wall after another.
Our county’s best days are ahead and not past. But we need to replenish our depleted stock of common sense. Let’s hope a real leader, a courageous statesperson, will emerge from a Congress that piddles, whines, and backs into walls. Somewhere among the duds there must be a few leaders with common sense enough to lead the people forward, again.
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This column represents alternative thoughts to other published columns in the Crossville Chronicle. “We the People” is published each Wednesday. Opinions expressed in “We the People” columns are not necessarily those of the Crossville Chronicle publisher, editor or staff. For more information, contact John Wund, editor, at email@example.com.