Let's learn better lessons
After 15 tries, the Republicans finally voted-in a Speaker of the US House of Representatives. This week’s news followed attempt after attempt, each thwarted by a small contingent of extremists within the party. The very same extremists who supported last year’s run on the Capital. It’s a strange juxtaposition: marking the anniversary of that absurd and destructive attack on one pillar of US democracy while it’s champions frustrate the order of one of its institutions in the present.
The BBC covered the current unrest in Bolivia during its Business Matters program and the 1986 revolution came up during the discussion. Reflecting on that, the commentator reminded listeners “no country can take democracy for granted” This feels especially relevant to me as a US citizen. Many politicians seem to think the US government is a democracy machine. They act like no matter what inputs you feed it, the Great Machine will faithfully churn-out democracy. The reality is: it's just a government machine. If you feed it democratic parts and pieces, then you get democracy. If you feed it fascism flavored policies and practices, then you're gonna get fascism.
This is one of the many reasons it’s critically important to have strong protections for voting rights. The more participation by the electorate, the broader representation in leadership. Greater representation means more perspectives are considered when crafting policy, strategy, and building institutions. The more flavors of folks considered in building societal institutions and infrastructure, the better chances they work for greater portions of the population. And that’s the point of democracy.
The useless left-ish politicians need to stop pretending they can just keep doing what they have been doing, and the rest of us need to stop pretending their posturing is doing any good at all. A better lesson to learn from Jan 6th would have been that we need to solve some real problems with how this country functions. The supposed progressives cannot wait for the approval of rural America before they start making those people's lives better. Solve some real problems and the disenfranchised MAGA people will eventually come around.
One way to definitely not do that is to alienate even more working class folks. Blocking a railroad labor strike was the opposite of helping people. And the opposite of upholding democratic ideals. It was shameful. Made even worse by the pretending that travesty of legislation was doing us all a favor. All it did was further demonstrate the Democratic party is entirely out of touch with the plight of ordinary Americans. The only winners there were the capitalists. Just like always.
That’s the same kind of mental gymnastics conservatives use to justify “protecting the unborn from abortion” and then immediately abandoning those children the moment they breathe air. Also the same as paying millions of dollars today for art made by dead artists who couldn’t make a living from their art while they were alive. And just as back-as-wards as appointing the CEO of the largest oil company in United Arab Emirates as President of next year’s global environmental symposium, COP28.
We need to learn better lessons. I remember the same kind of mistake when President Obama attempted to tackle the health care crisis in the US. I assumed it was a lost cause when the first thing they did was invite all the health insurance companies to the table to participate in building the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The point of health care is to care for the health of human beings. The point of insurance companies is to produce profit. Those are opposing goals in our current economic system. There is no way to take care of people if the institutions profiting from our un-wellness are setting up the method and mechanisms by which we all access care. It’s quite classically the fox guarding the henhouse.
But not enough people made a fuss at the time, so instead of some universal health care structure we got the ACA. Which didn’t actually solve the problem of the cost of health care. All it did was provide some government subsidies for some people to buy the overprices plans from the private insurance companies. The biggest opposition to the whole mess at the time was the wall of Republicans determined to prevent President Obama from accomplishing anything at all, no matter how much it might benefit their own constituency.
This week I heard an interview with an Italian artisan umbrella-maker. They said “To live long, you need to make long-range plans.” There’s a great deal of value in that. It often feels to me like we're taking collective actions today without considering the needs, challenges, and resources of tomorrow. When things go awry, we need to start with better take-aways. It's less important who is to blame than what we're all going to do differently going forward. If we can manage that, maybe history won't just keep repeating itself interminably.
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Jaydra is a human in-process, working to make the world a better place. Sharing thoughts, feelings, and observations about the human experience.