‘Some visions are intelligent and benign. Other visions are stupid and malevolent. "Where there is no vision ... the people perish," the Good Book says. Where there is a defective vision, people perish too. In a democracy, it is up to the people themselves to make the fateful choice.’
Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., Historian
The following was taken from Bill Moyers "Moyers on America, A Journalist and His Times"
American democracy depends less on the size of its armies than on the capacity of its individual citizens to rely, if only momentarily, on the strength of their own thought. Before you cast your vote think about the fact that President Bush and his administration have seldom bothered to observe the minimal decencies of moderate thought abroad or nationally, either socially by helping individuals or families who are forced to eke out a living, or internationally with its burning (and maybe personal) desire to unseat Saddam Hussein.
Life is a social, not solitary endeavor
Since the election of the early 1980s, the idea that the public good is superior to the private interest has been out of fashion. Now the Bush Administration has taken that philosophy to a new level. The Administration’s goal is to privatize everything it possibly can, including services typically performed by the military.
Privatization works in some cases, but not in all cases. Government needs an active role in society. Government needs to enforce fair play and when necessary be the friend, the helper and the agent of the people at large in the contest against entrenched power, whether it is a monopoly of oil companies, a cartel of HMOs or military contracting companies. Our society needs to help others who do not have the opportunity to help themselves.
If everything is privatized society ends up as a war of all against all, powered by individual cunning in the pursuit of wealth and power. How do you help? You help by understanding --
- That a Social Security card is not a private portfolio statement, but a membership ticket in a society where we all contribute to a common treasury so that none need face the indignities of poverty in old age.
That our nation can no more survive half democracy and half oligarchy than it could survive half slave and half free, and that keeping it from becoming all oligarchy is steady work – our work.
That tax evasion is not a form of conserving investment capital but a brazen abandonment of responsibility to the country.
That income inequality is not a sign of freedom of opportunity at work, because if it persists and grows, then unless you believe that some people are naturally born to ride and some to wear saddles, it’s a sign that opportunity is less than equal.
That public services, when privatized, serve only those who can afford them and weaken the sense that we will all rise and fall together as “one nation, indivisible.”
That prosperity requires good wages and benefits for workers
The eight-hour day; the minimum wage; the conservation of natural resources and the protection of our air, water, and land; women’s rights and civil rights; free trade unions; Social Security; a civil service based on merit – all these were launched as citizens’ movements and won the endorsement of the political class only after long struggles and in the face of bitter opposition and sneering attacks. Democracy doesn’t work without citizen activism and participation. Trickle-down politics is no more effective than trickle-down economics.