Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Character of a Nation

Is there a better, more visible embodiment of a "national character" than the acts and priorities of a country's own government? Most assuredly, yes. In fact, any number of factors might indicate a national character better than the behaviour of government. Dictatorships, monarchies, despotic regimes, all display behaviours likely far removed those of its citiizens. Though the character of individuals within any nation will span the spectrum human disposition, such governments as these are hardly representational of the character of its people.

But the government in a putative representational democracy should be the best indicator of a nation's temperment and this notion was given voice by Lincoln when he declared that the United States was a country founded upon the notion of a
government of the people, by the people, for the people.
It can be easily argued that such an ideal is nothing but fanciful and that, in fact, it has never really been true. But it is still an ideal Americans would wish were true -- some even might believe it -- and the history of this country is an indicator that the struggle to make it actually true has been ongoing. Lincoln obviously knew that there were serious lapses in what American society then defined as "the people." Lapses exist today.

Nonetheless, America's mythical view of itself has always maintained that its government was of "the people" and that this must mean the bearing of the government is, by definition, that of its people.

It was with this myth in mind that I was interested to note that George Bush just proclaimed the week of Oct 16-22 National Character Counts Week with this bold rhetorical flourish:
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 16 through October 22, 2005, as National Character Counts Week. I call upon public officials, educators, librarians, parents, students, and all Americans to observe this week with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs.
As George himself might say, those are some high falutin' words and, to his credit, at least he didn't explicitly mention shopping as one of the "appropriate activities" in which Americans might engage in demonstration of our "national character." But also I wonder if he sees Fitzgerald's (public official) investigation (activity) of nearly every damn White House staffer as appropriate to the week. I know I sure do.

In any event, I was amused, bemused rather, about this when I read what Congress and Bush chose as an "appropriate activity" during this proclaimed national character week:
Congress gave the gun lobby its top legislative priority Thursday, passing a bill protecting the firearms industry from massive crime-victim lawsuits. President Bush said he will sign it.
Kristen Rand, of the Violence Policy Center, immediately said that "this legislation will make the unregulated gun industry the most pampered industry in America." I think Karen is overstating things a tad because the gun industry has an awful lot of competition for this prize from the defense industry, the oil industry, the financial industry, the telecom industry, the housing industry and any number of other "industries" willing to pony up the big bucks for a little congressional love. In fact, the competition for "most pampered industry" is rather hotly contested.

Our national character, as presented by Congress to us this week, can be summed up fairly succinctly: lawyers, guns and money. At the very least, this move is an embarrassment, both for what it says about those in government and, more importantly, what it says about the state of this democracy and the lost ideal that the nation is governed by "the people."

The passage of this bill during the week of "national character" typifies this administration and Congress. The bill is obviously far from the first of its corporate-friendly kind. But the move exemplifies for us that this administration and Congress are not only self-serving legislation peddlers but that they are also utterly tone deaf. They tell Americans to do one thing while they do something else entirely. They tout "national character" while perfoming craven legislative cartwheels for coporate interests. One couldn't dream up a better counterexample to the myth of a government "of the people."

This is not to say that such behaviour is particular to this White House. But with Bush at the helm, the current crop of players has raised the bar of hypocritical, self-serve, special-interest catering to a level not seen before in the annals of a government "of the people, by the people and for the people."

How farcical those words now sound. Congress stood up this week and announced that they are not a government of the people. When are we going to listen?

2 Comments:

Blogger Adrian Creffield said...

I've enjoyed reading your blog. My blog is www.adminsupervisor.blogspot.com its new and its getting better all the time. Have a look if you want.

My other site is a work at home mums site. I recently decided to build my own income and I thought I could kill two birds with one stone.

Keep up the great work, I'll be back soon.

3:54 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Well done. I m certainly amazed with the calibre of the details supplied. I expect that you keep up with the exceptional work succesfully done.
Pasadena Locksmiths
Locksmith Nashville TN
Berkeley locksmith
Locksmith Sunnyvale CA
Mountain View locksmith
Locksmith Newark CA
Locksmith Santa Clara CA
irvine locksmiths
Hialeah FL Locksmith
locksmith Aventura FL
Locksmith Mesquite
locksmith aventura
locksmith pembroke pines fl
aventura locksmiths
irvine locksmith
fort worth locksmiths
irvine locksmiths
locksmiths fort worth
Aventura FL locksmith
Hialeah FL Locksmith
locksmith plano texas
Locksmith Hialeah FL

1:39 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home