Far too often in these crazy times we live with mean-spirited buzzwords rather than thoughtful discourse.
“That’s fake news! Genco is a socialist.”
“Do your research!”
“Get away from me you pipsqueak.”
The trouble is the breakdown of common decency and some people being utterly humorless.
The whole mess is exacerbated by social media and confirmation bias.
You can go on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and keep looking until you find someone who agrees with your prejudices. It doesn’t matter what you believe. There is someone who agrees and someone else willing to disagree.
After you’ve affirmed your righteousness, in some tired, other-worldly trope you can indignantly say, “See, I told you so.”
It happened again this week when the Democrats and President Joseph Biden passed the infrastructure bill.
Supporters of former President Trump came with partisan fervor to yell “socialism” and argue childcare and broadband are not part of infrastructure.
Socialism, has never been embraced seriously by anyone I know in the United States. When people railing against big government object, that’s the image they expect us to embrace. The anti-capitalist statist step on the road to communism.
What they are really doing, however, is resorting to the battle cries of the 1870s, where the word socialism first came into play after the Missouri compromise which reunited the post Civil War United States.
In former slave states, the Ku Klux Klan worked to keep African Americans from voting because it would lead to socialism. In other words, those voters would support programs, like public education, roads, bridges and military that benefit all citizens, not just wealthy people and business owners.
The federal government’s response was to form the Department of Justice to keep the polls safe.
There was a give and take where Republicans clawed back at the newly extended privileges. It continued all the way until FDR’s new society which created a social safety net for the first time.
From there, we continued onward until the voting rights act and LBJ’s reforms of the late '60s. Republicans have been clawing back ever since, especially during the time of Reagan which ushered in massive tax cuts and a great expansion of national debt (a repeated theme when Republicans hold the Oval Office).
I remember supporting and liking Reagan the whole concept that government is not the solution to the problem but is the problem. It made my young self feel prideful. I now look back at how naive I was.
Then it came to voting rights. The act passed in 1965 has been slowly diluted by state laws in places like Georgia where a record turnout in 2020, facilitated by laws passed and supported by Republicans, resulted in Democrats winning. They have since passed laws making it more difficult to vote because turnout benefits Democrats.
Politically I have always said and still do. “I am a practicing capitalist and support the Constitution. As long as you are good with that, we won’t have a problem. The trouble I have is I can’t figure out how to answer the health insurance problem.” I likely won’t get to benefit from socialized medicine until age 65.
Guess what? The Constitution doesn’t even make it to Article 1 before answering most of my challenges. Here’s the preamble, as written (excessive caps copied).
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
It’s a “more perfect union,” not a perfect one. Who doesn’t want Tranquility? Or Defence? Or general Welfare?
That general Welfare thing probably answers the challenge on meaningful health care reform.
We’ve been getting massive bills from government under the last two presidents. For me, it’s time to address health care. “Do your research.”
Joe Genco is the regional news editor for the Niagara Gazette and the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal. Contact him at 282-2311, extension 2250, or firstname.lastname@example.org.