Laura Ebke, PhD.
5 November 2014
I took this political science class not because it’s required for my degree but because I felt the need to become politically literate. I look at the world around me and, frankly, I don’t like anything that I see. I am from a small mountain town in Colorado and I have witnessed firsthand the environmental degradation caused by human beings. I worked in the corporate world for twelve years and experienced personally the bigotry and misogyny that is perpetuated on a daily basis in the business world. I’ve seen the quality of life continue to erode year after year for everyone that I know including myself. I look at the society that I live in and I see a society that glamourizes greed and consumerism at all costs, even at the expense of others and at the cost of our very sustenance and life itself. How did this happen? What is holding us back from creating the society that I naively thought already existed?
Kids are taught in school about the American Dream, and we are told about how important it is to work hard in order to achieve that dream. In fact, we are taught that only through hard work and earning an education is achieving the American Dream possible. We are taught how to be contributing members of society and that through cooperation and by following the rules, everyone gets the same chance, everyone has the same opportunity.
While ideologically our society espouses these values, the belief that this society actually exists is dangerously ignorant. Pundits and politicians alike are constantly going on about America being a democracy, when in fact, it was created as a republic, as echoed in the Pledge of Allegiance, “… and to the republic [my emphasis] for which it stands…” And in practice, what we are actually living under currently is arguably an oligarchy.
I believe that the founding Fathers expected our government to de-evolve into an oligarchy because of corruption and their attempt to protect or at least impede that from happening is laid out in the Bill of Rights. Yet, in spite of their well-laid plans and best efforts, we find ourselves in this sordid predicament. Economic and financial inequality in this country are dangerously close to levels not seen since the Great Depression or the French Revolution. So how do we fix this mess? I’m not sure who said it first, but I do believe that the greatness of a society indeed can be measured by the treatment of the most vulnerable among them. With this belief in mind I argue for the reformation of our government and a revolution in thought and priorities as a nation. There must be a consorted effort to overturn Citizens United v. FEC, create transparency in business, especially the media, and stand up for two of our most basic rights: the freedom of speech and free press.
Over the last forty years, most notably during the Reagan and Bush Jr. administrations, there has been a great effort to de-regulate business and promote “trickle-down” economic theory. Both of these policies have proven to be disastrous for not only the common American, but for many people around the world. Although the appeal of “small government” in favor of the rights of the individual is a valid desire, it is wholly impractical in the way that these policies are currently being applied by the far right.
We are told by the political right wing that the de-regulation of business will free up money and allow the businesses to create more jobs. While on the surface this may make logical sense, in reality de-regulation does not bode well for the average person. What we are failing to realize is that by supporting this de-regulation, we are supporting corporate interests not the interests of “We the People”, as we are lead to believe. It is not the local small business owners that benefit from de-regulation, but rather the giant corporations.
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