Facing The Tiger
Hat tip to Kos for pointing us to this article by Michael Tomasky on what the philosophy of the Democratic Party is. I haven't read the article in full, but from Kos's comments it sounds like Tomasky is urging political leaders to start returning to the rhetoric of "The Greater Good"; the idea that citizens need to think beyond themselves when making political decisions about their future.
I think "The Greater Good" could prove a powerful motivator in the coming years. Just as it has so often in our past, especially in times of trouble.
The truly selfish individuals, the people who couldn't give a damn about their fellow man, are a rare breed. They just happen to be very focused in getting what they want and that focus gives them a disproportionate share of the attention. Their volume far exceeds their numbers.
It is my firm belief that the vast majority of Americans, Democrat and Republican, just want what is best for their country, their community and their family. They aren't in it just to advance themselves.
But caring has been given a bad name by those who want us to believe that the only viable way of achieving success and security is to "look out for #1".
I've often thought that what is needed today is a program of shared sacrifice similar to what we saw during the Great Depression and World War II. During the last great war the government asked a lot of its citizenry and that citizenry was more than happy to oblige. Why? Because they felt the call to work towards the Greater Good.
We are at war. At least that is what Bush likes to tell us. So why, if we are at war, have Americans not been asked to sacrifice for the Greater Good of their country? What did Bush ask of Americans after 9/11? He asked them to go shopping! He asked them to go to Disneyland!
His message was simple: you don't have to sacrifice anything in this time of trouble. Just go about your lives as if everything were the same. And don't worry, I'll defend your tax cuts to my dying breath.
Bush utterly failed to rally this country toward the goal of addressing this present crisis. He saw it as just another opportunity to advance his predetermined agenda.
The conventional wisdom among the political elite is that asking for sacrifice from the electorate is political suicide (look at the way Dean's tax plans were excorciated in 2004). That wisdom is the very thing that is holding us back from achieving greatness. It is a wisdom that says that everyone should just act in their own self-interest and damn their neighbors to the suicide bombs and hurricane floods. It is a wisdom tailor-made to increase voter apathy ("Why should I vote? The politicians just waste my money anyway!")
Bush's philosophy is that of the man who tells his companion, when both are running away from the tiger, that he doesn't have to outrun the tiger. He just has to outrun his friend.
It's time to turn and face the tiger.