The crucial election of 2010 is upon us.  In the less than two years of its existence the Obama Administration has produced extraordinary achievements to deal with extraordinary crises, and set us on a long-term path that will improve the lives of all Americans.  The voters may reject this record. Regardless of the outcome, it is crucial to the future of America to increase the challenge to the basic premises that lie under the drum beat of Republican slogans.  Among these premises:

  • Retribution and punishment are the moral trump cards.  When firefighters in South Fulton Tenn. let Lance Cradick’s house burn down because he had not paid his $75 fee for the county’s private firefighting company, his neighbors largely had no problem with that. One was quoted as wanting “people to suffer the consequences” of their actions. Punishment  trumps pragmatic decisions based on the betterment of all lives when communities make joint decisions on common problems.
  • Small government (no public fire companies) produces greater freedom for the individual.  It produces less. Smaller government means less democracy, because citizens have less ability to demand accountability – which is the essence of democracy – from fewer institutions responsive elected officials. Unaccountable powerful individuals and groups will make decisions affecting their lives.  Individuals are not free but at the mercy of secret forces, and random events with little ability to plan for productive and meaningful lives. Even the powerful individuals will have less freedom as the pursuit of individual self interest creates the chaos and breakdown of a Wall Street financial crisis.