Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Treatise

There is a lack of common sense amongst the people running this nation. Under the double yoke of conservatism and liberalism, the United States has risen to the top, conquering such scourges as Nazism and communism, and emerged as the sole superpower. Few threats can overcome this bastion of prosperity, this fortress of liberty, and yet, unfortunately, they still exist. Already a whole slew of scourges with the potential impact of a world war confront the United States’ position at the helm of the world, ranging from terrorism to China and deficits to a fast approaching energy crisis. Thus, at this pivotal point, what captures the attention of our congress? Terri Schiavo, judge appointees, and, take note, major-league steroid use. Indeed, the double yoke that kept this proud nation always treading upwards is now dragging us down, as politicians pick fights over war and refuse to offer solutions to the real issues facing this country, shielding their utter incompetence with their shared stupidity and established power-base. Do I condemn the followers of these juggernauts, these wheezing weights on the neck of lady liberty? By all means no, to the contrary, the majority of Americans want what is best for the country, but have grown accustomed to politicians who have set incompetence as the standard, and thus repeatedly settle for halfway solutions. Americans deserve better. It is time that the voice of reason, the voice of practicality reenter the arena, but not under the scorched and scorned banners of the preeminent parties. It is important that a new party, one whose candidates and endorsements the public might support and trust, come into the political fray, providing once again the choice of good policy to the citizens of America. Here will be wrought a new line of thought, a new, practical, way of going about politics, for the future does not look bright if our nation continues to be trapped between the two current ones.
First and foremost of the differences between practical politics and mainstream politics is the fundamental reasoning. In mainstream politics, the question is, “what is best for the party?” in practical politics, the question will always be, “what is best for the country?” Whereas contemporary politicians aspire to reelection, practical politicians will make policies that bring about a government which provides its citizens liberties, economic and political security, and an environment in which they might pursue prosperity and happiness. This entails minimal compromise, no catering to special interests, and absolutely no pork-barreling, the practice handing out bribes to constituents in exchange for votes, like unnecessary tax cuts and bridges to nowhere. This also means that the practical party will be very flexible. Whereas in mainstream politics there is a popular belief that if one change’s his position he is indecisive and weak, we shall make policies that fit the facts, not facts to fit the policies. When we are wrong, we will admit to it and move on. Character assassinations, religious intonations, value attacks, lies in general, attempts to win elections on non-policy issues, practical politics will do without all this mainstream tripe.
How does one go about enacting policies that are best for the country? Here is a set of priorities to act as a core to an ideology whose aim is to guide politicians in making practical policies. Obvious as it may seem, the first priority is preservation of the nation. The second is the preservation of and adherence to the constitution; the document which has facilitated our rise to power cannot be abused. Third, we must maintain the world’s best military, for what is the purpose of our government if it cannot defend us? Fourth, a good government must foresee and solve large scale problems or threats to our society. A prime example of this would be the impending energy and deficit crises. It is also necessary that the government provides an economic security net to its citizens, providing them with a baseline of survival and putting them on the path to prosperity. Next, it is important that the government maximize efficiency, another obvious sounding priority until one realizes that the very word bureaucracy has become homogenous with inefficiency. Just one example of the costly efficiency lapses that hamper or government is the billions of tax dollars that go uncollected, or are even lost, due to bureaucratic problems within the IRS. After this comes maintaining a competitive and fair economic environment in which American companies thrive and the trade imbalance remains in our favor. This is a broad priority which includes such essentials as a superior infrastructure and education system. Finally, it is important that the government itself is solvent, maintaining a balanced budget and avoiding debt. Although they may sound obvious, and, well, practical, almost none of these goals are being accomplished under our current political parties.
With these established as the broad parameters of practical policy, let me apply them to a few more specific fields. First, there is foreign policy. Preservation of the nation means a foreign policy which emphasizes the United States’ military and economic security. Humanitarian policies need to be encouraged, but only if they do not compromise either of the afore mentioned securities. The war in Iraq is an excellent case in point, for not only is it humanitarian, but it also enhances the United States economic security situation by stabilizing the Middle East, the source for a sizable amount of the worlds oil. This is not to say this war has lived up to other practical standards, failing most notably in regard to the tragic lack of efficiency and planning. On domestic issues, an application of adherence to the constitution, maximizing efficiency, and foreseeing and solving problems is keeping the federal government on federal issues. This allows the state system to be used to its full potential, with local governments experimenting with new policies without endangering the nation on the whole if the policy is unsuccessful, for instance high gas taxes and stem cell research in California, or the various gay marriage bans. This also fits into the increasing efficiency issue, as the practical federal government on federal issues policy would entail no more wasteful pet projects, like the billion dollar bridge in Alaska and the purposeless, yet federally funded, subsidies on items ranging from sugar to traffic signals. An issue which is both domestic and foreign, falling primarily under foreseeing and solving problems, is energy independence. Our near total dependence on foreign energy poses both environmental and economic threats, and a potent security threat in event of a crisis. The practical thing to do is obvious: put major money into developing alternatives and tax the fossil fuels. Unfortunately mainstream politicians do not see that, exemplified by congress’s current energy bill which is laden with pork and subsidies for the fossil fuel industry. Even the opposition party cannot get their mouths around the words “gas taxes” and “nuclear”. Their failure to present a feasible solution to a problem this large is exemplary of their incompetence in running our government. A more minor problem, emblematic of the hundreds which regularly overwhelm our politicians, is our fleet. As it stands, the only large ships built in the United States are navy ships. Thus, when it comes to building a new class of destroyers, congress will not approve it unless every remaining shipyard in the United States gets to build a destroyer, inflating the costs to the point where they cannot build the destroyer anymore. A practical solution is to build up the domestic ship building industry and have competitive contracts for the destroyers. Representatives are in congress to run the nation, not get jobs for their local constituents. These are but a few of the many policy areas in which practical politics could make a major difference, if applied.
As exemplified by the remarkably low turnover rate in congress, the majority of politicians no longer view politics not as a public service, but as a game, a career, with bills and policies as mere tools for advancement. A French thinker once said that American democracy will only succeed until congress realizes that it can bribe the citizens with their own money. Viewing recent developments, representatives have made that realization, forsaking practical policies in favor of those that will perpetuate their tenures. This country is not in decline, citizens are in fact stronger and more politically involved then ever, unfortunately they are being increasingly abused and disenfranchised by a greedy few. It is time that we renounce these institutions, free our nation from these parties of bondage, and bring back politicians who make policies for the good of the nation, not the good of the party.

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