We're angry, and both parties are to blame
By Beth Cody, Writers’ Group member
Iowa City Press-Citizen
Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My fellow Writers’ Group member, the Rev. Rudolph T. Juárez, recently wrote a piece (“Propaganda is dangerous,” Oct. 29th) describing his dismay at the vitriolic rantings of political commentators on radio and television.

He is probably correct that commentators have lately become more acrimonious. However, Father Juárez made no attempt to explain why this might be so.

These commentators are not coming out of a void – they say what people want to hear. Millions of people listen to them because both Republicans and Democrats are becoming angrier and more desperate.

Why is this? Because we understand that other people are using government to control us, and people hate to be controlled by others.

This hatred of subjugation is a universal human trait, and is felt even more acutely here in America, which was founded on the ideas of freedom and self-determination.

When government takes away our ability to make our own decisions (even “for our own good”), we become angry, frightened and sometimes violent.

Unfortunately, government now controls most areas of our lives, so any proposed policy changes directly and personally affect us. This makes every change a high-stakes issue, with the losers being exploited.

And both major parties are culpable:

Republicans have been the driving force behind most of our recent wars. People are forced to pay for wars that they believe are unjust and that sacrifice our citizens. Result: angry protesters.

These wars lead to many violations of our civil liberties – to keep us safe from terrorists, drugs, etc., of course. Result: outrage and fear of government abuses.

And although Republicans claim to be pro-free market, they are actually pro-business: bailouts, corporate subsidies, regulations that favor some businesses over others – all unfair burdens on the rest of us. (Real “free markets” allow businesses to succeed and to fail freely.) Result: more hostility.

The Democrats promote what, to most Americans, are socialist schemes to redistribute citizens’ honestly-earned income to those who did not earn it (including to the growing “leeching class” of government employees). Americans are generous givers to charity, but forced charity is simply theft. Result: smoldering resentment of exploitation.

Americans also understand that Democrats’ aggressive attempts to take over the health care industry will have us standing in line at the figurative post office to beg bureaucrats, hat in hand, for treatment exceptions that might save our lives. Is this how free people live? Result: dread of subjugation and desperate fears for our very lives.

And both sides are responsible for the relentless growth of regulations to keep us safe, at the cost of our money and our freedom to buy, say and do what we want. Result: poverty and frustration.

The good news is that the solution to the acrimony is simple and easy: we just need to stop trying to control others.

This means trusting people to do the right thing, even though they won’t do so every time. Trying to force others to live the way we ourselves think is best is a recipe for strife.

Even better news: freedom is great for the economy, won’t burden our children with debts or kill them in wars, and won’t ultimately destroy our nation.

The bad news is that this will not likely happen. The leaders of both parties will continue to increase the size and scope of government, continuing the downward cycle of ill effects: increased cost of living, higher taxes, rising poverty, subjection to bad laws, loss of self-determination, increased crime, breakup of families, anger, despair, desperation, violence.

Our country will become paralyzed and weak from rancorous internal discord (would that we could learn from the ancient Greeks!). Will civil war follow?

Perhaps at the low point, some part of our nation will start afresh, having re-learned the importance of individual freedom.

But we have a long ride until then. Padre, you ain’t heard nothin’ yet.