America is all about politics or it is nothing
JOHN REINIERS, More Than WordsSometimes the truth hurts. It has been said that we need to moralize politics and not politicize morals. I would argue that we've gone one step further and politicalized everything – every thought – every belief and activity known to man.
Published: October 8, 2012
Published: October 8, 2012
We are in good company. Ayatollah Khomeini famously said, "Anyone who would say that religion is separate from politics is a fool; he does not know Islam or politics...Islam is politics or it is nothing."
What he did was unwittingly explain the danger of a dictatorial theocracy, as opposed to the wisdom of our Founders. But he also described the political quagmire we've slipped into. To paraphrase this Iranian despot: Anyone who would say America is separate from politics is a fool. Unfortunately, that has now become as axiomatic as Johnny Cash saying, "This is life and there's no cure for that."
Harold Lasswell, considered the most original political scientist of his time –a pragmatist – observed that politics is: "Who gets what, when and how." This reminds me of New York Times columnist David Brooks' observation that "If you are a 60s guy, it's all about you." The "who" is "you." So politics is all about what you get, when you get it and how. It is no wonder that Lasswell's studies produced breakthroughs in the understanding of propaganda and indoctrination during World War II.
With that in mind then, everything becomes politics. Consider the issue of a women's right to choose and the right to life. This seems to be more of a fit with Brooks' observation that "it's all about you" rather than Lasswell's definition. Dictionary definitions of politics generally say it is a term referring to the art or science of running governmental affairs, not personal, cultural, moral or religious issues. The same could be said for same sex marriage. I have personal opinions about both, but all governments struggle just to manage governmental affairs, much less the personal lives of its citizens.
The Obama administration is ushering our country into bankruptcy, so with the economy and jobs of paramount concern, the notion of government being required to judge these intractable issues confronting women, or gays and lesbians – or anybody, for that matter – seems misplaced.
I don't have an answer. But politicizing them? (Johnny Cash was right. "There's no cure for that.") As it is, progressive liberals have even relegated our culture to our omniscient government – a behemoth now committed to regulating all human behavior.
Education is something else again. The majority of educational institutions are publically funded, both at K-12 and colleges and universities, so the topic is certainly within the sphere of politics in that sense; but one would think the entire nuts and bolts of the educational process should be shaped in educational circles by experts who surely are now aware that the U.S. needs to rapidly transition to a knowledge based economy, and not by politicians. It involves the entire educational process from K through graduate school.
Medical technology has made mindboggling advances in recent years. Most breakthroughs are beyond the comprehension of even the well-educated. Can anyone imagine partisan legislative haggling over the preferred application of nanoelectronic biosensors or diagnostic sensors in the treatment of patients?
The difference is that education has been coopted by the labor movement which is a political arm of the Democrats, whereas medicine isn't quite there – yet. (Witness the recall election and union demonstrations in Wisconsin, and the teacher strike in Chicago.)
I couldn't help but think of Thomas Jefferson's reminder that "The cornerstone of democracy rests on the foundation of an educated electorate." He was the draftsman of our countries' seminal political document, The Declaration of Independence, written before we became a country; before there were political parties, before we were polarized, and before education was politicized, unionized and failing by any standards.
The former boss of the teacher's union reminds us that "It is not because we care about children and it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child. The NEA and its affiliates are effective…because we have the power…because there are more than 3.2 million…who pay us hundreds of millions of dollars in dues…" (And the NEA was the largest single contributor to the Democratic Party during the 2010 election cycle.)
To paraphrase Khomeini again, "anyone who would say that" teaching "is separate from politics is a fool."
It's no wonder that the average cost of a K-12 education in the U.S. is twice as much as the average of other first world countries; yet the majority of doctoral students in challenging STEM fields of study are international students.
Health care is targeted next to become an arm of the Democratic machine. A booklet published by the SEIU (Service Employees International Union) in 2008 talked about "an "ambitious plan for our future by organizing healthcare workers." (21 million!)
This was their goal in campaigning for Obamacare. Barrack Obama has said he "worked his entire life with SEIU," whose boss, Andy Stern helped write the Obamacare legislation. (Every million healthcare workers employed would mean a staggering $1 billion in union dues.)
We are at a critical juncture in our history where the basis for our economy – to be globally competitive in this era of mind-numbing breakthroughs in technology – needs to be dramatically transformed from labor intensive to knowledge intensive. We'll never reach this goal in this politically divisive society with President Obama, our leader, who instructed his followers "We're gonna punish our enemies and we're gonna reward those who stand with us…"
Martin Luther King gave the opposite advice to political leaders in his perceptively entitled book: "Where do we go From Here: Chaos or Community" He said, "A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus"
John Reiniers, a regular columnist for Hernando Today, lives in Spring Hill.