Empire or Democracy?

I maintain two blogs and they reflect twin poles in my existence:  toddryder.com and moneyscraper.com.

But a single, common thread, which I fear some readers miss, runs behind my political and investing anecdotes (OK rants) centering mostly on my anguish regarding the competition and the discomfiting, cynical calculation to which I am daily compelled to keep from falling behind in America.  That thread is my basic premise that America’s social contracts have been weakened, damaged, or just plain broken since Ronald Reagan, whom I endorsed at age 17 in my High School newspaper.

For example:

  • If you work you will not be poor.
  • If you live by the rules you’ll get ahead by them.
  • If you aspire and commit to something – an education, a marriage, a job, a firm, an honorable way of life – then America can and will provide something commensurate to your efforts in return.

Those contracts were implicit in the political and social order of my Father’s America.

But the angry, bigoted, Social Darwinist, politics that emerged with and after Ronald Reagan – which claimed that our social bargains were holding us back, that our rules were antiquated and should never apply to our ruling class, and that the only moral thing is victory has indisputably undermined America, its economy and Democracy.

Welcome to the New World Order, where taxes are bad; war is good; and profit at any cost is all that matters.

And as our roads and bridges rot, as our school houses crumble, as the best jobs proffered by Washington and Wall Street have nothing to do with educating our children or strengthening our communities, as our prison populations and defense budgets exceed those of every other nation on Earth, we find ourselves asking How did we get here?  And will electing Obama, Clinton or McCain make any difference?  No!  They can’t and they won’t -- until we stop twiddling the knobs on Ronald Reagan’s sick, sad, illusory notion of American Empire -- and start rebuilding the people and the promises -- the populist core -- that is the heart of our precious American Democracy.