I’ve been reading Dr. Charles Krauthammer’s book, Things That Matter. In it he visits all sorts of topics that are not overtly political – most are not “talking points” of either party – but, nevertheless, how anyone views each topic, be it art or dogs or language, can more or less define his political leanings. You see, life is politics. Unfortunately, there is no facet of your life that won’t be touched by those in charge of regulating it. Therefore, it’s best if each of us figures out what matters, why it matters, and to what degree it matters.
In the following chapters I will try to show what matters to me, why it matters, and to what degree it matters. It is up to the reader to decide which political party better represents the values that matter to him. For me, there is no question. I usually align with Conservative and/or Libertarian principles and policies. Maybe your priorities are different from mine; I get that. But, be aware before you pull the lever, that your choice will have consequences. You should use your common sense to figure out what those consequences might be and the effects they might have on the things that matter to you.
You should know what your party of choice stands for, why they stand for it, and to what extremes they will go to accomplish their goals. If you don’t assess your priorities and fully understand your options, you probably shouldn’t vote!
I liked the good old days. I’m not foolish enough to want to take back the technical advances and knowledge gained since then, but I sure as heck would like to get back to the good old days where values and morality are concerned. I can’t trace every technical advancement directly to a subsequent change in morality (as with the pill), but I can trace many changes in morality back to the political acceptance of new cultural beliefs. Culture and politics go hand-in-hand, each reinforcing the effects of the other.
It used to be that people were ashamed to go on the public dole. Most people had too much pride to admit they needed financial help and worked harder to prove they didn’t. Not so true, anymore. Many people seem more willing to abandon their previously held moral values (taking care of one’s self and family) for the chance to get something for nothing. I see that as a pretty dramatic change in cultural belief to have happened in just fifty years or so. It took a concerted effort to achieve that change in moral thinking – a political effort, I think.
A person I respected once said on the subject of morality, “Unless a behavior is illegal, you shouldn’t judge the person.” Really? Morality, ethics and values don’t matter? If something is legal, it’s okay? Well, I can think of many actions that are legal, but wrong. I no longer respect that person’s opinion very much – well intentioned, maybe, but somewhat shallow and knee-jerk.
Sometimes, legislators and judges get it wrong and sometimes morality can’t be or shouldn’t be legislated because it’s none of the government’s business – and/or it’s unconstitutional. In the U.S.A., religion has declined as an influencing factor on moral choice, and the media have more or less defined and prescribed the new morality – which at best, is very wishy-washy on right and wrong unless it suits their political agenda.
I know scores of people whose views of morality have changed over the years – some for the better (on race), but most for the worse. There have always been people with different values from mine, and some with few, if any, recognizable values at all, but there are more of them now… in every area of life, and across the entire economic spectrum. It seems moral and ethical considerations have all but been abandoned. Those of us who would return a buck when given too much change are laughed at instead of admired; we are considered “suckers” for not taking advantage of mistakes or available government programs.
Many cheat on applications. In fact, ways to cheat are offered on applications… if you qualify as part of an “underachieving” minority group, for example, checking that box might give you a leg up in being accepted in college or being hired. Why? What does ethnicity have to do with anything relevant to performance or diversity when you’ve never been near a reservation or a ghetto or experienced any presumed hardship from being a minority group member? It’s all so phony – done to inflate the “make-nice” and performance statistics. Is that ethical? No way is it ethical. Manipulating statistics for any reason is legal, but WRONG! And nobody seems to care.
Elizabeth Warren is the best modern example I can think of to demonstrate and measure the increase in this kind of unethical behavior. It was wrong for Harvard to tout her as a Native American employee; it was wrong for her to try to take advantage of her heritage when it’s irrelevant, and it was wrong for the electorate of Massachusetts to not give a damn when they elected her to the Senate. Maybe she didn’t lie exactly, but neither did she or the voters recognize the inherent unfairness of pursuing such a policy. Fifty years ago more folks would have noticed and cared. Now, they don’t – “Everybody does it” is everyone’s excuse for a behavior each knows is wrong. Our young people are being trained to be immoral. I don’t know what Elizabeth Warren’s motivation was, but lots of white kids filling out college applications don’t hesitate to check any box that might gain them an advantage – and why wouldn’t they? They’re routinely screwed by affirmative action policies, so become willing to “level the playing field” for themselves. I don’t blame them (I guess), but it makes me very sad that we’ve created a society that has made unethical choices not only acceptable, but officially condoned.
How many folks look for and get government hand-outs and are proud instead of ashamed? How many women think they deserve the same salary as a man even though they’re less qualified and probably work fewer hours (e.g., through maternity leave and sick days) than a man holding the same position?
Having a child and not getting married is legal, as it should be. But is it acceptable to do this over and over again while being on welfare? Taking unemployment benefits and not looking for a job is done, too. Well, that’s not actually legal, but who’s going to find out? In many circles, these bad behaviors have become acceptable behaviors – despite all the economic problems these behaviors will necessarily cause in any country.
In my opinion, our moral decline – that is the acceptance of destructive and unethical behavior – one way or another – has caused most of our educational decline, our fiscal decline, and the rising disparity in incomes and outcomes; a disparity, by the way, which should be completely expected in an intellectually and morally diverse community.
I know it is hopelessly old-fashioned of me to expect young people not to be promiscuous. With the pill and abortions readily available, and sex being a primal urge, I guess promiscuity is hard to avoid these days. I even hesitate to call it a moral issue. In the biblical sense, it is, but I don’t view it as wrong in and of itself. It’s what comes after the promiscuity that’s often wrong and causes all the problems.
A friend of mine has two grandchildren, young men, who are in the middle of custody battles. In each case, the wife and girlfriend bowed out of the relationship after a minimal trial run, and apparently with few second thoughts. The kids and the fathers are suffering greatly. Personally, I don’t think these two girls, and I hesitate to call them women because of their selfishness, tried hard enough. They did not think of the kids’ welfare or their mates’ welfare, only their own momentary needs and interests. I expect more than that from adults with adult responsibilities. Our society, however, does not. More often, we change our laws and cultural expectations to suit the new morality – even though the new morality is driving the country into the ground.
The following chapters, I hope, will demonstrate how the political policies of the Left have caused many of the changes in our moral and ethical (culturally imposed) expectations. Policies have consequences… and it is best to acknowledge how those policies are born. Most often, they are not born out of genuine need for change; they are generated from propaganda and advertising.
For example, people didn’t always use deodorant. Some self-interested entity (deodorant manufacturers) convinced us we needed it – that body odor is bad. Those ads worked. Smelling good became a cultural expectation, and now almost everyone wears it or suffers the consequences of rejection.
Politics operates the same way – convince unwary, potential buyers they need something. It doesn’t particularly matter if they need it or not; they just have to think they do. Just like deodorant, counseling, PC mantras, climate change initiatives, or any other product, people first must be convinced it’s necessary. Our job, as consumers of political rhetoric, is to recognize if the need is real or not. Usually, it’s not. It’s a manufactured need created to secure a voting bloc. That’s why politicians so often speak from both sides of their mouths. What’s good for one group isn’t always good for the rest of us… or I might add, for anyone – including the group it’s framed for. Read on, please.
We are serializing Judy Axtell's memoir, But...at What Cost, published by Outskirts Press and available from on-line booksellers like amazon.com. I am proud to have coached Judy and edited the book.
My writing-editing-coaching site is http://writeyourbookwithme.com.
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