Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A case of duty

I often get asked by people I know why I often vote *for* taxes, or vote against reducing them.
I think this election season thats a particularly salient question.

My answer: I feel it is my duty.

To often, we have let the right wing coopt that word and use it when its convenient to their goals and interests only.

Its time to take it back. Here are duties I feel strongly I have to my country and my countrymen:

(1) To support my fellow Americans in their hours of need
Right now we are in tough economic times. Some of us are lucky enough to still have gainful employment and I am among them. I consider it my duty to help those not so fortunate and cutting the taxes that support the social services (as meager as they may be) that form what little safety net they have would be beneath my conscience.

Similarly, to let my fellow Americans die from exposure because they cannot afford shelter, or of disease because they cannot afford proper medical care, is something I again cannot conscience. If we truly are one people, then we owe it to our less fortunate to share some modicum of our good fortune with them, even if its just their basic needs.

(2) To support my country's economic future
We will never again be a manufacturing power. That is a reality of economics. All we have left to bargain with in the world economy is our skilled labor and skilled labor requires learning skills, which means education. I support education and education spending as vital to our country's future and as another duty of being a beneficiary of this country's economy.

(3) To support the American Dream
This country is built on a promise, that someone who wants to work, can work and someone who wants to work hard can be rewarded for that effort with a reasonable standard of living. This can only be true in an economy with an ample place for a middle class. For the past thirty years, the distribution of wealth in this country has been shifting more and more to the wealthy and that wealth has come out of what is available to the middle class.

The right likes to accuse the left of "class warfare" but the fact of the matter is that its a war that both sides have been engaged in for a long time, and the shift of wealth shows who is is winning it and it isn't the working man or woman.

(4) To support a government By the people and For the people.
The sad fact today is that our government is bought and paid for with money spent on advertising (and "news-vertising") that tells lies to the voting public. One look at who is paying for those ads tells you which side is which. The right is funded by large for-profit corporations and very wealthy people. The left is funded by organized groups of working men and women (that's called a "union" by the way), not-for-profit social justice groups, and more and more by middle-class individuals of conscience.

I believe that as is, it is fundamentally unstable and that there is no mistake that the rise of the over-bearing power of the rich coincides directly with the rise of the importance of advertising driven mass media in our society. I believe the system today is fundamentally flawed, distorted past recognition by a media-power our founders could never have anticipated. In the short run, it is my duty to be part of that mobilized shrinking middle class.

In the long run, I believe the system is terribly unstable today and major change is needed to ensure that this government by and for the people does not perish from this earth.

We are headed straight back into aristocracy and I believe it is my duty to fight that.

(5) A duty to create Liberty and Justice for All
The American Dream of the middle class is something we had and have just about lost. This dream, I am afraid, we have never had. The good news is that it is one of the few parts of that grand promise that actually is getting better. We have our first President of Color. We edge closer and closer to equal rights for the LGBT community. Racial distinctions are blurring as our country "browns" through mixed race relations. All this is good.

But it is still true that there are two standards of justice in this country, one for those who can afford the costs of courts and another for those who cannot. It is still true that people of color live in poverty in statistically far greater numbers then those not. And we still have a court system that cares more about convicting somebody, anybody, for a crime then about seeing justice done.

These are fundamental duties of citizenship and success.
These are why I am a progressive and proud of it.

It's a case of duty.