By Rich Abete
It should be noted that my post originally appeared several months ago, just subsequent to Paul Ryan’s budget proposal that would end Medicare as we know it by replacing it with an inadequate voucher program (more below). To be fair to Mr. Ryan, who now holds the dubious honor of being Mitt Romney’s running mate and the Republican Vice Presidential Candidate, his more recent proposals to do in Medicare are not quite so rabid in tone. Be that as it may, we as citizens should continue to hold him accountable for his initial draconian proposal that would wreak havoc on the lives of the sick, the elderly and the destitute. From what I have read, his “softer” back tracking of late is no picnic for the most vulnerable either. What’s especially crazy-making, is folks like Ryan speak of cutting Medicare and other social safety net programs in the name of austerity against a backdrop of corporate welfare, wholesale tax giveaways to billionaires and the bolstering via incentives of the already dream-like bottom lines off Big Oil, Big Pharma and the like.
As Sarah Palin would say, “You betcha!” I guess that was too easy! Maybe a better query is, “Should governance be moralistic?” At least it’s a bit more challenging. Assuming that governance in the U.S.is all about “we the people” and the “collective good” is the ideal, then the answer should also be a resounding “Yes!” Of course, if we’re talking about some right-wing dictatorship (that we, the U.S., were so fond of aligning ourselves with a few decades ago and are now in the business of removing at gun point- oops! I can feel a tangential rant coming on…then of course all bets are off. For the sake of clarity then, we’ll confine this discussion to the “we the people” paradigm of U.S. governance.
First off, I’d better define morality, since it seems to have lost a good amount of depth in recent years. I am not referring to the narrow conceptual definition of morality that the right-wing in this country has foisted upon the rest of us. That puritanical version concerns itself largely with personal sexual matters…almost exclusively. As we lefties are aware, there is a hell of a lot more to morality, if indeed personal sexual matters are issues of morality at all, than just who we choose to sleep and when, and how often and for what purpose we do it. (Disclaimer: non-consensual sex and statutory rape are issues of morality. For the record, bestiality is not a moral issue, unless of course it is non-consensual (Give me a break PITA!).
So, what is morality then? According to Dictionary.com, the first definition of morality reads, “moral or virtuous conduct” and the second reads “moral quality of character.” Admittedly, the third definition mentions “chastity,” but it’s third people!
I would suggest that morality is about how we treat each other and how we treat our planet, how we treat an ailing elderly parent or a hungry stranger, how we conduct our business and how we raise our children. Morality is also about matters of war and peace, friendship, tolerance and humility…but most importantly, morality is about how we treat “the least among us.” Jesus had a bit to say on that topic. I felt momentarily compelled to use language with which the Right might logically identify, but at once realized that the Right is so Old Testament. It’s interesting how they seem to discount the New Testament where Jesus teaches a broad notion of morality.
What compels me to write on morality at this moment in time, is the shameful proposal put forth last week by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-WI. Ryan’s budget, which would be the law of the land if the GOP controlled the Senate and the White House, is a surprisingly diaphanous attempt at upward wealth redistribution and class warfare. It should be required reading for any civic-minded American and be treated as a cautionary tale when pulling the lever in November.
According to Robert Reich http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-reich/republican-budget-plan_b_1369347.html?ref=daily-brief?utm_source=DailyBrief&utm_campaign=032112&utm_medium=email&utm_content=BlogEntry&utm_term=Daily%20Brief, Mr. Ryan’s budget would, in conspicuous fashion, upwardly redistribute the wealth in this country; specifically, he wrote, “This would give the wealthiest Americans an average tax cut of at least $150,000 a year… The money would come out of programs for the elderly, lower-middle families, and the poor.” Just breathtaking!
The moral to this tale of morality is thus: We (the Left) must not cede the mantle of morality to the Right. We own it, because when we’re good, we walk it, live it and breathe it. Let them cede the lion’s share of moral issues to the rest of us in their quest to serve a divisive few, and when they do, let’s call them on it! Sooner or later, it may just catch up with them and the truth will be revealed. One peak at Mr. Ryan’s budget might just set you free.