As the 2012 presidential election draws near, the noise decimal has risen to fever pitch. The dynamic shows performed at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions have wrapped upand the grand race is on its final leg. Both parties are now pulling out their best acts to get our attention.
Did I mention that the white noise is at its loudest? Two things that can get Americans screaming at each other are politics and religion, for people tend to passionately protect their point of view, beliefs and ideology. The unfortunate result is, there are never any winners, because everyone thinks their argument is the right one.
There are deep differences between Conservatives and Liberals but above all the heated contentious, and sometimes hateful rhetoric, no one can really hear each other. Thus the vile fights continue across social media, “in blogger land,” talk radio and television.
So what exactly is the difference between Republicans and Democrats; conservatives and liberals? The official definition of conservative is as follows:
- Holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation, typically in politics or religion.
- A person who is averse to change and holds to traditional values and attitudes, typically in politics.
Liberal is as follows:
- Open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values.
- A person of liberal views.
According to the definitions, conservatives are less open to change or less likely to insert compassion in the decision making processs. Maybe that explains GOP VP nominee Paul Ryan's budget plan: all clinical deductions without the heart? I know we are not all monolithic and there are good and bad on both sides of the aisle but there is a connecting thread between ideologues.
Which means that the lines are defensively drawn in the sand this election and the polarization of American is at its peak: Why? Is it because of the grave economic times, that most are on edge, or is it because of the self-promoting pundits and other talking heads that ratchet up the partisan narrative for personal gains?
Or is it about who is in the White House; is it racial? Is it about a small but powerful ideological faction hellbent on shaping and remaking America “in their own image and likeness"?
Both parties make the case for their policies being the right ones and this political divide is mirrored in the general population beyond Washington. Democrats say a society has an obligation to protect the weak among us, to look out for the vulnerable. The modern-day Republicans say we cannot afford to help the poor, elderly and less fortunate the way we use to; that balancing the budget and reducing the massive national debt comes before social programs.
Yes, reducing our debt makes sound economic sense, for overspending and underproducing is certainly unsustainable—be it your family budget, a small business or the federal government. But where Democrats and Republicans sharply diverge is how we tally up the cost and reduce the deficit.
Maybe if the GOP had ripped up Grover Norquist’s pledge and thrown the tax breaks for the wealthiest small percentage of society into the pot to be axed as well, more Americans would listen to what they have to say. But proposing deep and crippling cuts to most programs while leaving the trillions of dollars in tax breaks for the rich—on top of advocating for additional cuts as Mitt Romney and Ryan have included in their plans—leaves liberals shaking their heads in horror and conservatives rolling their eyes in mockery at those “bleeding hearts liberals” who they feel are out of touch with reality.
I suspect the answer to what ails the U.S. lies somewhere in the middle of those two extremes, but because political capital and power seem to trump finding sound, commonsense solutions, compromising is an alien concept.
CNN's Fareed Zakaria, host of Global Public Square (GPS), showed a heated debate between two of his guests on Sunday, Sept. 2. The topic was on just who the real job creators were and the truth or myth of the “risk taking” venture capitalists—those who enjoy lower tax rates than the rest of us because they take supposed risks.
What one of the guest said struck me. The fiery argument was between venture capitalist Nick Hanauer and former Bain Capital partner Ed Conard over real risks or risk myth. Hanauer, who has a video out on why the rich like him should pay more taxes, passionately made the case for folks like Conard and himself not being the real “risk takers” justly deserving of tax breaks. He said that someone armed with an Ivy League education, who goes to Silicon Valley to start a company, is equipped better than most Americans. He said the real risk takers are small businesses and the middle class. Hanauer said it was immoral to give those who already had the most a break, while the rest of American fended for themselves on their own.
Conard, also author of the controversial book “Unintended Consequences,” who supports trickle-down economics and defends the one percent, severely disagreed and said that it didn’t matter whether it was moral or not. I think that is one of the fundamental difference between conservatives and liberal. Conard was all business, thinking with cold, clinical rationale and no heart, whereas Hanuer, despite being a very wealthy man himself, puts heart into the equation, along with empathy and caring.
(Click on the video tab to the right above to see CNN’s Fareed Zakaria’s interview with Ed Conard).
This is where a vigorous debate ensued. Romney and other Republicans have used the phrases “rich envy,” “class warfare” and “we built it” as accusations levied against anyone who dared to point out the deep inequities and ever-expanding gap between incomes of the rich and the rest of America. Anyone who found the swelling ranks of poverty in America exceedingly troubling, while the very rich are given tax breaks, is labelled a "Robin Hood" or a "Socialist."
Hanauer is a very rich man, a venture capitalist like Romney and Conard, yet he has a vastly different take on trickle-down economics. Does he have “wealth envy,” or is he telling the truth about a system he knows is morally, ethically, economically, socially and fatally flawed?”
Click the link below to hear Hanauer debunk the “risk myth” used to justify a flawed tax code, including tax breaks for the very rich:
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