William Bender: The Choice Between Two Critical Perspectives

This Presidential election offers a clear choice between two differing views.  It is a simple “what you really believe” evaluation.  The first perspective is that We are all Equal.  The second is that Some of us are Superior.  At its core the election pivots on this critically important philosophical view of contemporary American political society:  How we see Ourselves and how we see Others in relationship to Ourselves.  Or, more succinctly, Do we still believe in Equality or do we now support Plutocracy; the political control of the state by an oligarch of the wealthy.

Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence “…that all men are created equal,…” There is no “Yes, but..” exception in Jefferson’s work.  All men; the man born to Wall Street or Detroit wealth, the man born to Redneck farming, the man born to steel working, textiles and manufacturing, a man born to a world of drugs and crime, a man born into the arts, literature, or medicine, law or science, a man born with exceptional athletic, musical or artistic or intellectual abilities, a man born white, black, brown, yellow, or some kind of mixture.  There is no caveat in the Declaration of Independence quantifying equality based on IQ score, for size of investment portfolio, for whether you are a factory worker, farmer, mechanic, tradesman, professional or an entrepreneurial businessman, for which car you drive, or how many you have, or whether you belongs to a country club or not.  All men are created equal; period.  You either accept Democracy, believe in it, support it, or you don’t.

American society appears by the polls to be divided into two groups.  Those who don’t believe anyone has the right to “talk down” to other people, and those who think they, for various reasons, have “the right to talk down” to anyone.  It is a question of whether some, mainly by weight of wealth, are “Entitled.”  If you believe that some, or even you, are “Entitled,” then you don’t believe in Jefferson’s equality of man.  The “Entitled” unabashedly believe and advocate their superiority based solely on wealth, and attendant social position, regardless how acquired.  Simply put, half of America believes they are better than the other half.  That they are more Superior.  Ironically the purveyors of this plutocracy have convinced large numbers of lower and middle class Americans to join them in their bubble of self-delusion.  Join us, they say, and you too can attain like wealth and feel you are better than everyone else.

 From current polls it seems that half of Americans believe the other half does not take personal responsibility for their lives.  Where did half of America come up with the audacious self delusion that they are where there are solely by their own efforts?  Does the concept “There but for the grace of God” ever enter their thoughts?  This half sees the world as made up of winners and losers.  They see themselves as winners and everyone else as losers.  What better definition of self-delusional superiority?

The ideology of plutocracy and that of democracy can not coexist.  Plutocracy is political control of the state by an oligarch of the wealthy.  It is as much the antithesis of Democracy as were Nazi Fascism and Stalinist Communism.  Somewhere in the 1960’s half of America became or subscribed to the concept promoting unabashed and boundless greed, and a society increasingly stratified by wealth, gated communities, private schools and universities and private health care.  For a brief twenty-six year period, 1946-1972, an alternative to plutocratic capitalism evolved and flourished.  During this period the lower and middle classes grew in wealth, property and economic participation.  As a result of WWII income had been redistributed, spread around.  Medical care and public education expanded, highways connected all parts of the country, electrification, radio and TV and the telephone served the entire population.  The nation as a whole grew and prospered, not just the entitled few.

Mitt Romney is a plutocrat.  He is the prototypical Time-Share salesman with his slick haircut and expensive suit and machine gun persuasive PowerPoint presentation designed to stupefy and hypnotize.  He believes he and his kind are superior to everyone else.  No where did he more clearly expose his true self than in his 47% speech.  Do not delude yourself; Romney wasn’t talking about “them,” he was talking about “you.”  Barack Obama is the champion of equality and Democracy.  The choice is clear; either you believe in the Declaration of Independence upon which this country was founded, or you don’t.  Your vote will tell.