It is election time again in the USA, but, then, when is it not? They tell us that is the price of democracy. China, with as much internal dissent, is leaping ahead, but they suffer an authoritarian regime. Europe is ahead in many respects, but they are a bunch of socialists. The UK is improving economically by biting the bullet as it did in WWII, Malaya, and the Falklands, but they thrive on adversity. Canada is doing well but it does not rate mention, good or bad, as it never does anything exciting. Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Mexico, and North Korea are all more interesting. Chile is doing amazingly well, but it had a horrendous earthquake that united it, whereas Katrina was used to sew conflict.
Sanctioned by voters to go to Washington, are hundreds of talented people, full of vim and vigour, to create the paradise the electorate knows it deserves. These dedicated politicians soon discover that survival demands little governing but much fund raising, making them beholden to those with the heavy purses. It remains, then, a democracy of the rich and powerful but, please, do not call it a dictatorship. We can still complain openly and, after all, there are mid-term elections that can toss out the poor performers if you can tell who is and who is not amid all that hate literature. In fact, since 1934, 127 House and 99 Senate seats have changed occupants mid term, providing even more obstacles to long-term good governance.
Both parties send me numerous request for funds. Having endured their wasteful spending on attacking each other with accusations of doubtful validity in endless TV sound bites that, this time, will cost $3.7 billion, I consider it much better to contribute to 35 organizations like Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders, International Red Cross, World Environmental and Wildlife groups, PBS, and so on. This spreads my donation funds rather thinly but they are selected from among the hundreds who seek my money, but even they annoy me wasting money by sending requests for more money after I have just donated.
Are 50 states too many to govern? Larger Canada can find enough problems with 12 divisions. But then the tiny UK has 101 counties. Smaller Switzerland has 26 cantons and 4 languages.
Daily, my computer screen is polluted with vicious attacks on Muslims and Obama. Mostly, they are lies or warped half truths, proving the senders are bereft of any sound solutions to world problems. Recently a dedicated, talented, and hard-working individual was elected president to change things. Then a divided nation erected obstacle after obstacle, attempting to bring him down. It is amazing he has accomplished as much as he has. Politicians are rewarded with high salaries and enormous perks the rest of us can only dream of, yet their main reason for going to Washington, job satisfaction, is denied them. But, Obama is not alone. Angela Merkel who also has done much to improve her country is slipping in the polls. Human gratitude leaves much to be desired. Bring civility to our democracy or authoritarian regimes will swamp us.
Besides Obama-bashing there is Muslim-bashing. Deluded senders provide me with scores of accounts of Muslim atrocities. Yes, they should be exposed and condemned but I look in vain for balance. I see no praise for the Muslim General Congress urging the Canadian government to ban the burka and niqab, nor do I get continued condemnations of US Christian terrorists like the Oklahoma City bombing, the Arizona “Sons of the Gestapo” derailing trains, 230 killed by a bomb on TWA flight 800 in 1996, using Blacks and Guatemalans for medical experiments, Pastor John Hagee promoting “Christians United for Israel” and urging military strikes on Iran? Then we have the IRA murdering people in Ulster, London, and Manchester. There are all those terrorist activities in former Soviet Republics, Darfur, Sri Lanka, Philippines, occupied Palestine, Colombia, Kurdistan, Somalia, Tibet, and, if I may add, sexual misconduct due to the celibacy forced on priests. As for Muslim-bashing this scribe is suspicious of all organized religions. For at least 10,000 years basic beliefs have been corralled by self-promoting groups we can generically call priests who inject dogmas, rituals, and fees to cement their dominance and control. They do provide some good services and promote peaceful co-existence but are too often corrupted by extremists. This universe and life are so complex that great minds, at least from the Ionian Greeks to the present day, remain far from understanding. Agnostics argue, that in our ignorance, the only sensible approach is to maintain an open mind with tolerance to all beliefs that refrain from hostility to others, and with a thirst to join those who are making progress in ferreting out answers to How, When, and, above all, WHY.