Monday, September 9, 2013

but Syriaously....

I have had it with politics. Were it not for politics I might consider running for office, but alas it is a cruel game now and our government leaders, or what passes for them, do not command the respect they once did. Today I find myself confronted by two political dramas that illustrate how damaging and wasteful the political process has become.

Here in Colorado we are holding a recall election for two state representatives. The recall was initiated by a group that disagreed with the legislature’s support of strong initiatives for firearms regulations in the wake of the Aurora, Colorado theatre massacre. From what I understand, national groups then jumped on the bandwagon and funneled money to solicitors for gathering the signatures necessary to warrant a recall election.

Farther down the road, the proponents of the recall whined that they needed more time to generate alternative candidates to add to the ballot. The court(?) granted them an extension, but that meant that there was no way to qualify this as a mail-in ballot election. Not only that, but normal polling places were not going to be used, either. It was highly confusing unless you paid careful attention to the news and to your mailbox.

Meanwhile, the propaganda generated by both sides was obscene, both in content and sheer quantity. What a waste of trees to print this vitriol. We also had two door-to-door visits from young people reminding us to vote and who to vote for.

Recall elections should be reserved for extreme cases of abuse of power; and not because you don’t agree with one decision by your elected representative. I would like to think that I would vote against this particular recall regardless of which political party affiliation the incumbent had.

But seriously, there is another issue of national and international significance capturing our collective attention right now: should we launch strategic strikes against Syria for their use of chemical weapons on civilians? Public sentiment seems to be very much against this idea, but the opposition comes from two very different perspectives.

I think it can be argued that the United States has, since Vietnam at the least, engaged in war only when there was something at stake for itself. The Middle East has always held two things coveted by America: oil, and strategic locations from which other military actions could be carried out. We failed to intervene fully in Bosnia, and in Rwanda, mostly because there were no resources at stake. While we claim to be proponents of civil rights and freedom from oppression, we don’t back up our words with action. Ending genocide is apparently not enough of a principle to warrant military intervention.

So what about Syria? There doesn’t seem to be enough natural resources there to provide incentive to use military force, so Republicans and right-wingers are not supportive of action. Those left-leaning liberals who at least claim to value human life regardless of its religious affiliation and level of wealth, and who do not support war under any circumstances, certainly don’t endorse any action, either. What an odd couple, both sides opposed to military action in Syria for such divergent reasons!

Clearly, there should be global intolerance for the use of biological weapons, and some kind of collective action needs to be taken against the Syrian government. Acting unilaterally is not the way to go. We have lots of work to do at home, though, to educate ourselves about other nations, and brainstorm ways to help prevent the circumstances that lead to such catastrophic attacks in the first place.

I will happily endorse my tax dollars being spent on global disarmament, building ecologically sustainable communities, and creating renewable energy platforms. You ask me to pay for another boondoggle of a recall election, or support corporate welfare for agribusiness and petroleum companies, then you won’t be getting my vote in the next election.

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