Monday, May 13, 1996

Week of 05/13/1996

Helpers and Saviors
- by David Matthews 2

Used to be, people knew what side the politicians stood for. If a politician was liberal or conservative, the people knew. But lately those stances have changed. The parties that stood for individual liberties now are supporting more restrictions on those liberties. And those who stood more for restrictions are starting to embrace the concept of individual liberties. It's getting to be where no one knows anymore what the major political parties stand for.

Perhaps it's by design. After all, politics has traditionally been a game played by invitation only and understood only by those inside the parties. Most people only knew what a politician stood for by their speeches and public stances. But in the age of C-SPAN and grass-roots organizations, the game has become even more complex, and the players are finding it harder to hide their agenda.

Or perhaps it's time to redefine those agendas.

Consider if you will your country being influenced by two groups of politicians. The first group tells the people "Come, let us run your country. We're here to help you." These Helpers would explain how they know the people have been hurt by the greed and indifference of the wealthy, and that they would like to help you. They would help those who lost their jobs by "evil" corporations, help those hurt by the "evil economic system" that denied them a decent standard of living, provide medical care for those shut out by the "greedy insurance companies and medical agencies," and control the practices of the "evil corporations" to prevent them from harming those innocent citizens. And they'll even tell you that whole sections of society are being particularly victimized and exploited just because they are DIFFERENT from those who are "running the system."

To that end, these Helpers would set up a vast array of government programs, regulating every aspect of business and social activities possible. Dozens of financial benefits would be available for the people who need them. Expensive services would be paid for by the government for those who couldn't afford them. Volumes of business and commercial regulations would be written and enforced by different agencies to protect the people from exploitation. In short, to ensure that there isn't a period if your life that isn't covered by some form of government program, because they know you couldn't continue to go on without their help. And all of these programs paid for primarily by the group commonly known as "the rich."

And who are "the rich?" Simply put, they're the folks who can afford not to be on some form of government program. So if you're struggling along without the benefit of welfare or unemployment benefits, welcome to "the rich."

Then there's the other political party that tells the people "C'mon, give us a chance. We're not here to help you." They explain that they've always known you don't need any help to get through life, and certainly not from the government. So they tell you to go ahead to make as much money as possible. After all, they're not here to help you.

They won't help you because they'll be too busy trying to save you.

They will tell you there's an evil in the world. They know it exists, and that it's corrupting the very heart and soul of society. They've got volumes of proof to back up their word- and if you cannot see it yourself then you're probably too corrupted by the evil to recognize it.

So it's up to these Saviors to rescue you from this evil. To that end they'll enact laws designed to outlaw the signs of this evil so that you won't be corrupted by it. They'll create special agencies designed to track down and arrest those corrupted before they can spread their evil to others. They'll tell you what to do in your homes and in your bedrooms to make sure you aren't corrupted by this evil. They'll go into your schools and tell your kids what to learn and how to learn so that this evil won't infest them. They'll even monitor the media to make sure the evil isn't trying to spread it's propaganda.

These Saviors will even tell you that you won't like what they're doing, but that in the end you will thank them for freeing you from this corruption.

And what is this corruption? Why, it's this sin has many names such as "rugged individualism" or "hedonism," but it's often simply free and independent thought.

Bit confusing, huh?

So where does that leave the rest of us? Being forced to choose between two divergent, yet equally destructive trains of thought. We cling to either one side or the other, just long enough to get whatever priority we have in order, then we jump to the other side once that particular political group becomes a burden to us. And those whom we've elected to run the government have also learned to jump from one group to the next. So it should be no surprise to us that yesterday's Helper is today's Savior, and vice-versa.

So maybe it's no wonder why a lot of us aren't happy with either train of thought. We'd like to tell both sides "Thanks, but we don't need your help, and we certainly don't need to be saved!" But in a political world governed by Helpers and Saviors, it doesn't seem possible.

Perhaps it is time to leave them both and start anew. Maybe with a different party that doesn't want to burden "the rich" or try to save you from some imaginary evil that only a select group can see. Perhaps a group of people that understands something about individual freedoms and treats them all one and the same.. Perhaps then we won't even need to be helped, or to be saved.

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