A nation in crisis
By Frank Salvato
People, the news media and pundits like to throw around the word "crisis." The mainstream media and their ilk tell us that we are currently experiencing a crisis in the sub-prime mortgage market, an economic crisis, a crisis with the environment, a crisis in race relations and with oil prices. There is a crisis with the polar bears, the environmentalists tell us, as they taut their questionable consensus on the global warming crisis, this even as 31,000 scientists rebuke their "consensus." Educators tell us there is a crisis in public education. We even have a steroid crisis in the sports industry. I won't be opining about any of these "crisis" today.
We in the United States are experiencing a crisis of epidemic proportions. It is a crisis that threatens to end the great experiment in democracy that is our country. It is a crisis that involves apathy and arrogance, ignorance and a lack of fundamental prioritization. It is a crisis that centers on the loathsome practice of self-aggrandizement at the expense of others and that feeds on the "I've got mine, to hell with you" attitude possessed by the self-absorbed so prevalent in today's American society.
We the People have a crisis of purpose.
The Me Generation on the 1960s and 1970s did a great deal of damage to our country. It did a great deal of damage to Western Civilization. While the counter-culture of this era promoted introspection – a good thing, it delivered to mainstream society the self-absorbed philosophy of moral relativism, in which an individual's actions were presented relative to any extreme that would rationalize said action – a selfish and, therefore, bad thing. As the label indicates, the people caught-up in the Me Generation's moral, cultural and sexual revolution of the time re-centered the focus of our culture from protecting our society so that it may be bequeathed to future generations to satisfying individual needs and desires, and placing the special interests of the individual above the necessary interests that nurture our uniquely American ideology.
With self-absorption comes the malaise of intellectually limited vision. Limited vision denies us the ability to take all of the elements of any complex situation into account because we relate more strongly to the elements that address our selfish interests. Limited vision facilitates a decision making process that excludes a critical examination of the consequences of our actions, especially when those consequences are born of the less than titillating components of any given issue. Employing limited vision decision-making is almost always emotion-based and, therefore, it is a popular mechanism, simply employed, by the apathetic and the ignorant, the arrogant and the self-absorbed.
We see this limited vision today – a byproduct of the narcissistic Me Generation – just as many of us recognized its existence yesterday.
In a recent Wall Street Journal column penned by US Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), he examines the transformation of the Democrat Party in the United States from that of defender of freedom and liberty and foe of totalitarian aggression to that of the self-loathing Progressive-Liberal-Socialist movement it has become. In the article he cites the turning point as having taken place in the late 1960s during the Me Generation's antiwar activities.
Quite accurately, Senator Lieberman points out the limited vision employed by those protesting the war. Those protesting against US involvement in Vietnam stood ignorant to the complexities of the Cold War – the struggle between freedom, democracy and liberty and totalitarian, brutal, genocidal oppression. Instead of questing to understand these complexities, they demonized the actions of the United States and her allies because of what their ever diminishing attention span allowed them to see during the first televised war; serious and often none-to-pretty actions brought to them "in living color" by those Josef Stalin referred to as the "useful idiots" of the Western media; a media naïve, agenda-driven and one that had fallen prey to the propaganda of Soviet financed operatives working within the antiwar movement itself.
Today, these same useful idiots have risen – by act of attrition and less because of their abilities – to become the controllers of the mainstream media and political leaders, some occupying the highest offices within our government.
Before you make a visionless decision about where I am going with this let me state that this self-absorption exists on the Right side of the aisle as well.
In corporate America we witness a good number of CEOs and corporate boards – millionaires and billionaires all – wallowing in a stench of greed that would make Gordon Gecko shrink with inadequacy. We routinely see the bottom line trump national security in the outsourcing of manufacturing designed to facilitate the superiority and self-sufficiency of our Armed Forces. Patriotism and loyalty to country in corporate America are notions given short shrift and ideals that have become exceptions rather than the norm.
In politics we see a Republican Party leadership so completely self-absorbed in the inside the beltway mentality that it put its own self-interest ahead of its core constituencies and foot-soldiers. I am referring to the slap in the face every loyal Republican voter and party worker felt at the slating of New Hampshire and Iowa – two decidedly blue states – as the initial primary states for the 2008 election cycle. It is unconscionable that two liberal voting states were allowed to create a disadvantage for Conservative candidates within the Republican Party primary process. Although this disgrace could have been a failure of leadership, it is more likely by design given the candidate it has produced.
And in our society Right-leaners and Conservatives have fallen prey to narcissism and self-absorption as well. A perfect example of this is the ideological litmus test.
Logic mandates that the goal of any election is not to elect the best candidate running but the better candidate. I can say this with conviction because there isn't any one human being who can satisfy the ideological needs of another; there is no politician, no one person striving to attain public office, who can satisfy all of the special interests of every voter. Ronald Reagan couldn't do it. Abraham Lincoln couldn't do it. George Washington couldn't do it.
Employing a litmus test mentality ignores another element to voting that almost all of the American people fail to recognize; the duty to prevent bad candidates from reaching elected office.
We the People have a solemn duty to protect and defend the Charters of Freedom – the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They belong to us not to our government. In fact, the Charters were created not to create and empower our government but to limit its encroachment upon our freedoms and liberties. These incredible documents serve as a covenant between people and government; they are the wicks that burn in the lanterns of freedom that makes that shining city on the hill illuminated.
When we choose to employ ideological, political or religious litmus tests when deciding whether a candidate is worthy of our support or not we neglect the equally as important duty of protecting the elected office in question from the nefarious among us; we leave unsatisfied our civic responsibility to protect and defend the Constitution and the Charters of Freedom from those who would do them damage.
In a perfect world the American voting process would include a ballot choice that would allow us to cast a vote against one candidate without voting for another. Until that day we have to embrace our duty to defend our nation in protecting the Charters of Freedom, placing that duty above our special interests, above our personal desires, above our litmus tests. We have to preserve our uniquely American Heritage for the next generation and beyond, so that they can have personal interests and the freedom required to have them. If we fail in our duty we diminish the chance of passing freedom on to future generations. If we fail in our duty we will only have ourselves to blame and the culpability associated with a generation's oppression will be cast upon our memories by our children and our children's children.
Duty. Honor. Country.
Frank Salvato is the Executive Director and Director of Terrorism Research for Basics Project a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(C)(3) research and education initiative. His writing has been recognized by the US House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention. His organization, Basics Project, partnered in producing the first ever national symposium series addressing the root causes of radical Islamist terrorism. He also serves as the managing editor for The New Media Journal. Mr. Salvato has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor on FOX News Channel and is the host of the NMJ Radio show broadcast global on NetTalkWorld global talk radio and broadcast live on BlogTalk Radio. He is a regular guest on The Right Balance with Greg Allen on the Accent Radio Network, syndicated on over 25 stations nationally and on The Captain's America Radio Show catering to the US Armed Forces around the world, as well as an occasional guests on radio programs across the country. His opinion-editorials are syndicated nationally and he is occasionally quoted in The Federalist. Mr. Salvato is available for public speaking engagements. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!