One of many themes you are likely to encounter in my speech and writing is this: There has been a successful war of words conducted by the ultra-right throughout the years. It is a war to re-define the terms, and shape the focus of the argument in such a way as to distract from the actual issues. It is a war of obfuscation. It’s a war that all sides have been engaged in, but the right has been much more successful at it. Guess they had a better marketing team. Perhaps it gets back to the money issue.
“We never thought we’d raise as much money as the right-wing money machine,” he said, “but we’re confident we’ll have enough to be a strong countervailing force.” – Harold Ickes, president of Priorities USA Action, which backs President Barack Obama ¹
But, again, I digress. I admit to a tendency to do that. Part of the reason is that all of these things are actually inter-related. Getting back on track…
The topic du jour is not really the conservitard’s war, so much since they really just glommed onto an existing theme that had been ongoing for, perhaps, millennia. Which is, that government is some separate, alien force. That it is not US. Despite Bill Clinton’s gaffe, and one I’m sure many other people have made, it was President Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address who put it so succinctly and clearly:
It is rather for us, the living, to stand here, we here be dedica-ted to the great task remaining before us — that, from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people by the people for the people, shall not perish from the earth. [emphasis added]
Perhaps this concept of government as alien began many moons ago with the divine right of monarchies. Perhaps it started even earlier. Truly the origins are lost in the mists of time, as they say. However, it has become a very useful tool for those who want to use the big bad boogeyman of the government. And, there is much to actually fear in governmental power.
However, what we have to remember is that the government is not separate. It is US. The government only has the power that we give it. It can only rule through either consent or fear. Even then, the only fear it can wield is the fear that will be enforced by those who are consenting to carry out it’s edicts.
Look at the so-called Arab Spring. What do we see? Thousands upon thousands of people saying, essentially, “We have had enough. We will no longer consent, and we will no longer live with the fear. Though you may kill us, we are free of you and your rule.” And, that is the point. The government is still US. The soldiers and police pulling the guns are the people. As those active in the Occupy Wall Street movement say, they are the 99%. When the men and women behind the triggers decide, “I will not fire”, the power of the government is completely and irrevocably gone. Because, again, and I stress this because it is A MOST IMPORTANT POINT, the government only has power so long as we the people give it power.
Without people, there is no state. Without people, there is no government. Period.
So, my friends, guess what? You are the government. My sister, in her time in the Air Force. She was the government. Her husband, is in the army. He is the government. My ex-wife working for the VA. She is the government. My father working for the county IT department. He is the government. My multiple friends who are working for government contractors. Even they are the government. And, yes, you and I, as voters, even we, to a lesser extent ² , we too are the government.
By continuing this false distinction of talking about the government as some alien OTHER, we contribute to allowing the divide and conquer strategy to work. We have to stop it. It is part of the war of words that has been so successful!
WE ARE THE GOVERNMENT.
¹ – Granted, Mr. Ickes is actually referring to the current election cycle. However, it has long been a reality that the right wing has been the party of “bigger business” and thus has had access to more money. This particular quote was taken from Democratic Groups in Talks to Merge Fundraising article on Bloomberg.com
² – To a lesser extent because of a number of factors, but largely because of the influence of corruption and money on politics in America. This is the primary thrust of what the Occupy movement is working against.