The US was founded on an imperfect belief in equality. We have lost much of what we had of that belief, and are overdue for better treatment of everyone, and major changes elsewhere as well. Here are some old lessons to learn again.
No group is superior; no group is inferior. There are many cases in which a group of people has been particularly successful at one thing or another. Mostly this is because of strong cultural habits. Not all Asians are good at math, and there are erudite African-Americans who have no interest in basketball. Natural and permanent superiority has never been demonstrated for any group. There’s just no such thing as a superior race or culture, and those who believe otherwise need to learn why it is so.
It has been often said that justice in a country is best seen in how its poorest are treated. We’ve been slipping for a long time, in particular because of the machinations of the very rich over the past half century or so, which is part of the Republican drive to reduce the effectiveness of government. This has left us with a legacy of unfair laws both at the national level and state levels. New laws in Republican states frequently are specifically designed to punish one group or another, and to favor Republicans and the wealthy.
Everybody must be able to live a decent life on earnings from full time work of any kind. Anything else is undemocratic. The ugly belief popular on the right is that the poor deserve their fate because they are too lazy to work. It’s a claim made especially for African-Americans, ever since they quit working for free, and it’s a stupid belief. The poor are poor because they aren’t paid enough money and have no power to change that, not because they are lazy.
The rich have always had an unfair advantage with government because they can afford to spend heavily to influence law, which of course always favors themselves. Since the 1970s, when Republicans began to espouse the idea that government could do no right, the wealth of the rich has grown rapidly. Inequality now stands at an all time high, fed by top salaries and earnings far beyond reason, greed overcoming all else.
Everyone must learn what science does. The scientifically illiterate influence our laws far too much. Not only the undereducated don’t understand, but even many members of Congress don’t. The discoveries we make through science tell us how the natural world and the natural universe actually function, not how we imagine it functions, and particularly not how religion says it functions. To not “believe in” science makes no more sense than not believing in gravity.
Science is self-correcting. No scientific explanation can be “proven”; it can only be disproven. A good scientific theory is one that has been rigorously tested with many unsuccessful attempts to disprove it. Einstein’s Relativity is a good example.
Scientific thinkers were aware a century ago that it was possible to upset the global thermal balance. We have now arrived at the point where the evidence of that danger is very real every day, and whether we “believe” it is irrelevant. Firm scientific evidence of warming was found decades ago by petroleum scientists, their findings killed by corporate capitalists more worried about reduced profit than the fate of the planet. At that time we could have corrected our faults. Now it’s probably too late. The denial of politicians has also almost completely prevented actions that might have saved us when it was still possible. Instead, we may well have sacrificed the future existence of all life on earth.
Religious beliefs cannot be allowed to determine what non-believers may do. In some cases church dogma has been directly responsible for a person’s death. The church has said a pregnancy may not be terminated for any reason, and the mother dies. This is hardly what Jesus taught.
The debate over abortion is legitimate, but many of the forced-birth crowd have no real interest in protecting life, only in forcing an unwanted birth. The very real unmet needs of one out of three of our living children for adequate nutrition, health care, and education are largely ignored, seen as of lesser moral concern than small collections of cells that stand less than a 50% chance of becoming a viable birth. I call this hypocrisy of a high order.
Worse, protests against abortion tend to be radical and violent, accepting only a complete cessation of all abortion, rather than seeking a solution that improves the situation. Many also refuse to accept any form of contraception for anyone, and a few have become violent enough to commit arson, and even to murder women’s health care providers.
My personal belief is that every abortion represents a failure, a failure of sex education and of providing contraception when it was needed. Higher rates of unwanted pregnancy and abortion are found where education and contraception are wanting.
Republican battles against universal health care makes no sense. Even after a century and a half, we remain the only advanced country that fails to provide affordable health care for every citizen. Our health care costs literally double what others pay, wasting hundreds of billions of dollars. Many millions of Americans do not earn enough income to afford health care insurance, causing some 700,000 medical bankruptcies every year. The toll in all nations with national health care: zero.
It is time to correct these grievous faults, brought to us almost universally by the Republican party and it’s wealthy supporters. It is time for Republicans to think about what they have wrought, to restore the beliefs they once had, and to again make government serve the people, and not just the very rich.
None of this will happen if we sit on our asses again November 8th. People need to vote.