Utopia or dystopian nightmare?
By Nancy Salvato
web posted November 2, 2009
Sometimes I worry that our country will become more like the former Soviet Union. Americans will wait in lines for hours in order to receive bread for the week. I wonder what it would be like to run out of toilet paper and not be able to run to the store to stock up on what I grew up believing were necessities. Mostly, I am angered that I am living paycheck to paycheck...tethered to a house not worth the mortgage I own, unable to advance my earning potential because there is no free money for a middle aged white person who gives one third of her income back to the government to be spent on programs with which I don't agree and from which I receive no benefit. However, I must pick my battles when addressing an issue with which I'm concerned because I know the majority of folks in the blue state in which I reside and work dismiss my speculation as the ranting of a lunatic or someone who can't get with the program; embrace "change."
Today, I read how our government has set aside a multi-million dollar technology fund for Islamic countries. Our education system would thrive if that kind of money could be used to provide free online courses to adults wanting to earn a terminal degree or specialize in a shortage area. Instead, tuition goes up, taxes go to fund free money for those who qualify for the Pell grants which will supplement the cost of a college education, and more and more graduates (and many who won't graduate) will leave their post-secondary experience with an accumulated debt that will make it even more impossible to chase the elusive American dream. Many will not find jobs that require their advanced education.
The "bright shiny thing" continues to distract Americans from what is truly important. FOX News is using the administrations' comments about their station to boost their ratings instead of reporting on the news stories that make them such an important voice that the administration needs to discredit them or more importantly, distract FOX News from their mission.
Should universal health care pass? Ought certain aspects of the proposed legislation be given more consideration than others? This is a complicated issue that is being broken down into misleading sound bytes. Policy wonks need to be provided a forum to explain the nuances of the proposed legislation in a way that would allow legislators to make informed decisions.
Do citizens and representatives truly understand how this branch of the government actually functions? If a neutral observer could ask any representative what he or she sees as most important in regards to this critical issue, what is written inside the bill or how his or her vote will affect his or her chances of reelection, the answer would probably provide an interesting lesson in civics. The first question that needs to be answered is what is driving the vote? Do constituents and their representatives understand each others' roles in the legislative process? Do we truly understand each others' positions or why we hold them? Does ideology or constitutional illiteracy affect our understanding of what is involved? How can we make sure that a majority or a minority with a loud voice in their zealousness to do what they believe to be best for our country doesn't compromise our individual rights under the Constitution or in the long run work against what is best for our society? I would sleep better at night if I truly believed that these questions were driving the debate.
How did our society come to this point? Is it because the special interests which hold powerful sway over our education system are more concerned with molding the attitudes of successive generations to embrace moral relativism, engage in sexual promiscuity and to dismiss our Founders as white hypocritical patriarchs whose ideas are no longer relevant in today's society? Is it because generations are being taught that the government should take care of them and that they are entitled to the fruit of other peoples' labor? Is it because reporters are given the latitude to let their opinions on issues drive the news cycle? Worse, will the current administration be successful in preventing those who disagree with them from reporting their findings? It should not surprise us then that so many graduates leave school lacking in the ability to look at all sides of an issue and formulate a fact based opinion. How many people are blindly unaware or unconcerned that this is the case?
It's harder and harder to find the motivation to go the extra mile on my "off hours" to write about the philosophy and history behind the Constitution and why it is so important to preserve this republic. We are not a Democracy even though millions of people believe this to be the case. Why does this matter? Do people understand why this is an important issue? It is hard to compete with "Dancing with the Stars." However, it is critical to the well being of our society that people see as their responsibility to become informed citizens.
Unfortunately, those elected to office don't understand their role either. Are they delegates, expected to represent their constituencies opinions? Are they trustees, exercising their own ideas because their constituents aren't expected to understand such matters? Are those who are acting as trustees qualified to perform this role? Do their constituents have any influence over how their interests are represented? Must anyone involved in the political process pay to play? Do the people still have a voice or have we already lost it? Was I not paying attention during a bait and switch?
Imagine what it would be like if everyone's lives were determined by the government. It can't be too far of a stretch. We're already being told what to think, aren't we? Wouldn't it be so much simpler to just let someone else make all the decisions for us? Would this be Utopia or a Dystopian nightmare? Who will decide?
Nancy Salvato is the President and Director of Education and the Constitutional Literacy Program for Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)(3) research and educational project whose mission is to re-introduce the American public to the basic elements of our constitutional heritage while providing non-partisan, fact-based information on relevant socio-political issues important to our country, specifically the threats of aggressive Islamofascism and the American Fifth Column. She serves as a Senior Editor for The New Media Journal. She is also a staff writer, for the New Media Alliance, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)(3) coalition of writers and grass-roots media outlets. She received her BA in history from Loyola University and her M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education from National-Louis University. She is certified to teach in grades K-9 and 6-12 and as a teacher has worked with students in preschool, 1st, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 11th, and 12th grades. She has also worked as an adjunct instructor at the graduate school level. She continues to augment her education and areas of expertise in the style of Abraham Lincoln.
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