I believe getting many of us in our 60′s or older to admit “We’re glad we’re old” would be a difficult process. The natural feeling is to deny aging, as proven time and again by all the products out there to resist wrinkles, cover graying hair, or regain a youthful glow to sagging skin. With the right contacts we can change the color of our eyes, improve our hearing with almost invisible electronic aids, even replace arthritic, painful joints with miracle metal substitutes.
We might deny our age, what we can’t deny is the continued decline of our country.
A cornerstone of democracy is the individual right to vote. Republican politicians, while proclaiming their devotion to the ideals of democracy, are proposing bills in several states to change how the Electoral College operates, to take the voting franchise away from the individual and to rig the results to insure Republicans win every election.
13 GOP Senators from Pennsylvania are the latest group of Republicans to lead the charge to ignore a basic tenet of democracy and skew the elections by changing the rules for the Electoral College. Governor Tom Corbett was one of the earliest supporters of this plan, going back to 2011. Pennsylvania’s “finest” now join Wisconsin, Michigan, West Virginia, Texas and South Carolina in their efforts to rig the election process.
Many of these same state politicians saw their efforts to limit voting by implementing onerous Voter I.D. laws in this last presidential election thwarted by the courts. That has not stopped them from pursuing the same goal of limiting voting by minorities and blacks, a traditional democratic voting block. Renewed efforts are in place, and there is now more time to tweak laws more likely to be passed by the courts.
National Health Care is the law of the land. It was legally proposed by the President, and passed by Congress. That has not prevented several state governors from declaring they will ignore the law, and not implement it for their states and citizens. Partisan politics is more important to these Governors than doing right by their citizens.
Oklahoma legislators have proposed that an individual company can decide whether to provide birth control to its female employees, based upon no other criteria than its own prejudices. The Republican party, (remember the one of “Smaller, Less Intrusive Government?”), here and in other states, is committed to reducing government oversight of our working conditions, the air we breathe, the water we drink. But these same, old, angry white guys have no problem with injecting their personal prejudices and agendas into the private lives of women.
People are now being jailed, not allowed to face their accusers, with no rights of habeas corpus. Others can be tortured, the strictures of the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war ignored. Unannounced attacks on individuals, at times for no other reason than standing around in a group, or including American citizens marked for killing by drone-launched bombs and missiles. These formerly illegal, unconstitutional acts are now routinely carried out by order of our current and past Presidents. The Rule of Law has been replaced by legally questionable memos, written by Justice Department lawyers buried deep in the organization and out of public oversight.
Constitutional rights are the cornerstones of our democracy, except when the Executive Branch says they’re not.
Corporations are growing ever bigger, their influence in the halls of Congress overwhelming that of ordinary citizens. Their often dubious business practices not only condoned by State and Federal Legislators, they are often granted immunity from redress for possible nefarious practices.
The oil and gas industry is only the most recent example of corporate exemption from responsibility for their processes or possible adverse effects on the environment. The practice of Fracking to recover natural gas from underground rock formations requires at least 80,000 gallons of water per day per well. Going on nothing more than the word of the industry, Congress in it purchased wisdom, granted the industry legal immunity for any damage done, in any manner, as a result of Fracking.
As a country, we’ve become self-centered and crass, craving objects and glitter at the expense of our weaker citizenry. We prize wealth over heart, lionize the corporate CEO’s and their multi-million dollar pay packages. We applaud their cost-cutting moves of laying off workers, freezing salaries at 1970 levels, and cutting benefits. We’ve publicized the CEO’s of Papa John’s Pizza, Denny’s, even Dunkin’ Donuts for their public rebuke of health care, and their considering plans to cut employee hours so as not to have to pay the ridiculous sum of $.15-$.20 cents per pizza at the corporate level in Papa John’s case, to provide health care for the very same employees who make their companies a success.
And half our legislators in Washington believe that it is preferrable to cut Medicare and Social Security for the aged, Head Start for children’s education, food programs for hungry kids and medical care for veterans and pregnant women, rather than having the global corporations and mega-wealthy individuals pay even a few more dollars in taxes.
Really? This is what this nation has come to? Our values so warped, our congress so steeped in personal greed, so beholden to the lobbyists and corporations that own them, that they are willing, no eager, to destroy the last semblances of democracy, to sacrifice ethics, morality and compassion at the altar of the almighty dollar and partisan ideals.
So, I am glad I’m old, and won’t be around to witness the final downfall of our 250 year experiment in democracy.
But that’s just me…