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Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Choice

The candidates of this election have professed that there is a clear choice for the electorate.  I'm not sure how clear the choice is as they articulate it; but I agree that there is definitely a choice which I hereby hope to make clear.

I think the choice is based on a philosophy or world-view, on an ethic or understanding of the good life and human values and ends, on a politics or understanding of the nature of political action, and on an economics or understanding of wealth and the necessities of life.  The first choice is more individualistic, the second more communitarian and both have important places in American history.

The choice consists of many sub-choices.  I list each of them as "positives" or as choices among goods though I do think that for some of them their values are relative to particular situations and specific judgments as to where we as a people are at this time and place. Over all I would argue that based on the fundamental principle of integrity as I have explained elsewhere, one choice is better and in fact the opposite choice sets us back as a people.

CHOICE ONE                                  CHOICE TWO
Personal charity Social Justice
Sympathy for Empathy with
Economic growth Political happiness
Incentivize individual Incentivize social development
Religion as beliefs, values Religion as beliefs, values,
  behavior of individuals                 behavior of society
Close, strengthen boundaries Open, broaden boundaries
Corporate/CEO leadership Community, servant leadership
Power as strong force Power as acting together
Government: remove barriers Vehicle for collective action
Liberty from Freedom for
Tradition as guide Openness to new
Restoring institutions Creating institutions
Small town America ideal Sustainable urban ideal
Equity in process Equity in substance
Wealth as money, increase in Wealth as human, natural
  individual property/consumption     social well-being
Restore old economy Bring in new economy
Jobs as source of income Jobs as creative activity
Energy: unlimited force to produce Energy as renewable source
Absolute values through tradition Relative values through science
Private over public Public over private
 Public=sum of private                     Public good over private profit

In many cases, the sub-choice is not either/or but both/and. Yet I think the difference between choice one and choice two is profound and issues into specific policies regarding climate change, poverty and wealth creation, energy, health care, military strength. I think that the overall choice says a lot about us as individuals and as a nation. Therefore the choice is important.

I think that for those of us who are more oriented to a communitarian approach (choice two), it was a disservice to frame the election as about the economy and jobs, rather than politics and community. And I think that the Obama Campaign makes a fundamental error in allowing the Romney Campaign to set the terms for the primacy and meaning of wealth, economy, and jobs. What we need is a fundamental shift in worldview, ethic, economy, and politics which comes down to a different American religion than the one now embodied in the traditional Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, Jew, Muslim, and New Age religions that make individual salvation and affluence the means and end of human action.

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