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How Government Is Like Love

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Government is like love in that, for the the most part, size does not matter. Of course a government that is too small is simply impotent. But outside of that, what is most important about government is fidelity, not size. An unfaithful government, that is a government that does not serve its people first and foremost, like an unfaithful lover, can spread, disease, despair, and even death. In contrast, a faithful government, regardless of how big, will only care for its partner.

Conservative concerns regarding the size of government are both a distraction and disingenuous. Conservatives focus solely on the size of government because they have a fatalistic view that governmental unfaithfulness is a "boys will be boys" problem. Therefore, Conservatives insist that dependence on government be curbed, so as to limit our vulnerability. Meanwhile, controls on accumulating power in the private sector are to be rejected as being too dependent on government and limiting personal freedom.

Conservative objections to big government do not help us understand the proper relationship between a government and its people. The job of any sort of democratic government is to represent the desires of its people and to work for their best interests. Sometimes, the desire of the people is to be let them alone while, at other times, people need protection or assistance. But an unfaithful government cheats on its people by courting the powerful and rich. And if that isn't bad enough, many of our government's paramours include those we need protection from. Our government's dalliances can be seen in many of its domestic and foreign policies

There are a few problems that exist with the Conservative approach to government. First, by accepting that government is unfaithful or corrupt, the problem is dismissed. Here, the Conservative focus on limiting the size of government relegates an unfaithful government from having a disease like cancer to having a disease like hemorrhoids. That is, instead of eradicating the problem, Conservatives insist that we must manage it.

But then the next problem with the Conservative approach comes into play. That is that much of our freedom is measured by our right to select our government leaders through voting. This right to vote, in the countries we have "liberated," proves that the people there are free. So our question should be how free are we if those for whom we are voting must always be strictly limited because they will cheat? Conservatives answer this question by defining freedom solely on a personal level. One is free, according to Conservatives, if one can move around where one wants to, speak out freely, and, most importantly, be left alone to make one's fortune in life. But what about our national freedom? How free are we do determine the direction of our country? What if, as a country, we want single-payer universal health care? Or what if we would want a guaranteed personal income such as what Martin Luther King promoted? Or what if we want some other program that benefits those in need? The Conservative approach to government prohibits us, as a country, from choosing to use our nation's resources to help those whom we want to help. Thus the Conservative approach to government an important freedom.

We should also note how the conservative approach is also disingenuous. First, the Conservative objection to big government is selective. Conservatives often perform Paul Revere rides yelling "Big government is coming. Big government is coming." when the domestic programs grow, but there is no such ride when government expansion means more defense spending.


Second, the Conservative mantra that size corrupts only applies to government, not to the private sector. Conservatives are never bothered by the size of any private sector business or corporation. They may not want any business to have a guaranteed existence, but they are never bothered by its size. So Conservatives simply say "more power to you" to any business that can continue to grow regardless of the price that others have to pay for that growth as long as the business is not rescued by the government if it gets into trouble. At the same time, Conservatives see the government's role to protect us from power circles in the private sector. They prefer to leave the protection to the same private sector.

Whatever you want to add about the Conservative approach to government, the basic problem of government not being faithful to its people is not being addressed. It is this infidelity that is at the heart of our country's problems. And if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that we, the people, have enabled our government's adulterous ways for we are content to, time and again, invite back unfaithful former leaders to replace the current cheaters. This is one of the benefits of sticking with a two party system. Instead of telling ourselves that there are many fish in the sea, we stay with the devils we know. Thus, when discontent, we always welcome back those who have cheated before, there is no reason why they should mend their ways. They know that any kicking out of the bedroom is always temporary. They know that we will never file suit for divorce and sever our ties. All that the political party that is out of power has to do is to wait for the current political party to mess up.

We enable our government's unfaithfulness in another way. Americans are, for the most part, escapists. We spend our free time on entertainment. We prefer to watch talent shows and sports to watching documentaries and the news. We prefer to read fiction rather than non-fiction. The result is that we deliberately look away so as to not see our government's cheating. Sure we know they cheat, but because we don't know details, allow the government to continue to cheat in many of the same old ways. In addition, too many of us Americans prefer to escape reality while at home rather than to take some of our spare time and spend it in the kind of activism that tries to keep our government accountable.

Certainly, a lot more can be said about how government is like love. The question becomes what are we going to do with this unfaithful lover? Will we just accept our government's behavior because we feel there is nothing else we can do? Or, will we take steps to curb or even stop the cheating? Most of us would certainly not allow a lover to treat us the way our government treats its people. We would be crazy to allow a lover or spouse to treat us that way. So why do we let our government treat us this way?

 

Curt Day is a religious flaming fundamentalist and a political extreme moderate. Curt's blogs are at http://flamingfundamentalist.blogspot.com/ and http://violenceorsurvival.blogspot.com/

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