The Iowa caucuses are widely being acclaimed as a “stand for change” and hopefully they were. Yet the change represented by the two front running candidates of each party is a small one indeed and nothing even close to what this nation needs. If you take all the messages of all the candidates, including the darlings of the “outsiders” Kucinich and Paul, we still would only barely be scratching the surface of America’s real needs.
Health care is now acknowledged to be an issue. Glory hallelujah! It has only taken four long decades to get this far, and this far isn’t very far if you listen to the platforms of all but Kucinich. The horrible mistake in Iraq has so preoccupied us and used up our rapidly declining national resources that we have yet to address in a meaningful way the really biggest issues of the day.
Number one would be our debt load and the mess the financial markets are in. Not only is the national debt way beyond our means, but state and local governments have loaded up on debt in the form of bond issues that will take decades to pay off. Worse still is the enormous debt of both the corporate world and personal individual debt.
As a result of these debt levels we are now seeing pieces of us being sold to the highest bidders around the world. Dubai and China, among others, snap up chunks of our assets at fire sales caused by the decline of our financial condition. The proponents of “free trade” have succeeded in pushing us to second world status.
Another little discussed problem we face is a rapidly decaying infrastructure, both public and private. As I write, a series of storms is lashing California, bringing a threat that our state has long ignored – a levee system that exposes hundreds of thousands of residents to flooding because it has been left without maintenance for so long any large storm could make Katrina look mild in comparison.
California used to lead the nation in highway and public facility building until short sighted “tax reformers” imposed unrealistic limits on property taxes, a blight that has spread around the nation. Our schools once were the envy of the world and now rot in decay and we are given platitudes such as “N o Child Left Behind” instead of a first rate education system.
To me all of this reflects a regrettable level of selfishness among Americans. We prefer big screen televisions and flashy SUV’s to paying for the common good. In fact, to even raise the common good as an issue brands one as some sort of left collectivist who is out of touch with the people’s will.
America was founded for the common good. That common good included individual liberty as a necessary component, but the individual was always a part of the whole, not free of communal obligations.
We need candidates who address the common good, the weakness of individualism gone rampant and the supremacy of the corporate behemoth at the expense of all else.
Sen. Obama and Gov. Huckabee has talked of change and claimed to stand outside the standard politics. But unless they seriously go after the weakness of our selfishness they are just one small step away from the way things are.