I saw a bumper sticker on the back of a truck today that proclaimed “I’ll Keep My Guns, Freedom, and Money and You Can Keep the Change.” First of all what is “the Change.” Not having guns, freedom and any money to speak of. It is an “I want mine” mentality that is selfish and ignores the most basic human need to join together to accomplish what is right for both the individual and a common humanity.
Make no mistake. This far left liberal strongly supports the Second Amendment and the entire Bill of Rights. I don’t interpret the Tenth Amendment though as preventing the Federal Government from doing anything. While gun violence is a huge problem, we have to do more than simply trying to ban them. Most of the folks with this kind of bumper sticker are good law-abiding Americans honestly concerned to preserve their freedom and liberty. I can’t complain about that at all.
But the sticker goes on to say as a sort of slight and insult to so many other people that it reveals those who support such an ideal have little understanding of the common or civic good. Societies and nations cannot stand if the people of that place are atomized individuals in an Ayn Rand kind of world.
The great teacher and prophet, Jesus the Christ taught that the Creator will take account of those who take care of “the least of these” and those who do not. Those who take the material things and the freedom of this world while ignoring the needs of others headed for the next will not be saved to inherit part of the Kingdom of the Creator. A moral ethicist will inevitably reach the very same place for those who are agnostics and atheists in Twenty-first century America.
We cannot defend our liberty. We cannot sustain our material wealth. And we most certainly cannot sustain our freedom as a nation if we act as gun-toting selfish individuals, who care little if anything for others and the larger welfare of the political community to which we all belong known as the United States of America. Our Constitution does not offer “the blessings of liberty” to a select, well-armed few with no idea how republican (small r) government works. It is a common effort undertaken by all citizens who have responsibilities to every other citizen.
That means I care deeply about the driver of that truck and would stand proudly with him/her and their family to defend their freedom and to ensure their property is secure. It’s what civilized government is all about. And they should feel the same whatever our political, racial, ethnic, religious, or material differences may be.
We are all Americans and if we really believe in the document that sets up and operates our nation’s government and orders its polity, then we must look to the larger good of others in our society. We have to want them to succeed as we may have. We must want them to enjoy their liberty every bit as much as we enjoy ours. We must see to it that equal opportunity to enjoy these things is held aloft like a banner on a field of battle. It is not an equality based on simply handing out the same resources to everybody. No real American is going to oppose the idea that they must strive and work to achieve. But we must have equal enjoyment of our liberty and the opportunity that goes with it. And it is every man and woman’s business to see that happens.
In terms of where we stand post-election 2012 Republicans and Libertarians and Constitutionalists who cling to the individualist view that it’s all about me and to hell with the rest of you, there must be a full re-evaluation of what it means to live in a Representative Democracy. In community with others whom we in truth depend upon to maintain what the party with the bumper sticker wants.
Republicans today signaled through John Boehner that there will be no tax increases to gain revenue to balance the budget and stimulate job growth and recovery. It must just be austerity they say. There is no sign that conservatives in this nation are making the changes they need to make to promote a more inclusive, communitarian nation that at the very same time, ensures the protection of individual liberty and property.
Of course President Obama and the U.S. Senate, dominated in the lame duck session now underway, and even more in the new Congress may simply do nothing on the Bush tax cuts, and the most wealthy Americans will pay taxes as they did quite successfully through the eight years of Bill Clinton’s presidency. In point of fact, Republicans in Congress compromised and agreed to these tax rates at that time, and we yet had one of the longest sustained economic booms where the very rich got richer that we have ever had.
President Obama has said he will join with Republicans and sign a new bill that extends the Bush Tax cuts to all who earn less than 250,000 dollars.
That is 98 percent of us who will keep the current, low tax rate. The two percent who earn the most will simply pretend that Clinton is president and go on to get wealthier still while paying a little more that is their share.
It is time to pivot, and make the agenda of this nation extending economic opportunity to the poor and middle class by rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure both material and human to spur the job growth we’ve needed.
Boehner and his Republican Party do not hold the cards this time. Bill Kristol a top nationally read conservative writer people listen to has come out and said the richest Americans can afford to pay Clinton Era tax rates. This liberal writer speaking on Struggles for Justice, were he in Congress would reach across the aisle and suggest cutting the corporate tax rate and some corporate tax loopholes to bring in revenue and make us more competitive internationally.
It is time for these people to do some soul searching and come around to this ideal of an America where freedom and material wealth are enjoyed and protected in common and not just at the barrel of a gun wielded by a selfish individualist who cares little or nothing for “the least of these.”
It is time to re-invigorate the common or civic good in this country. We stand or fall together. We do not sustain the nation alone. We require the help of every other citizen to sustain the government that still is the marvel and envy of the entire world!
Dr. Thomas Martin Sobottke
For Struggles for Justice