The Age of Lost Legitimacy


What is legitimate (in accordance with recognized or
accepted standards or principles) in this world as we move forward? 

Along with
statesmanship, is it well and perhaps permanently behind us? We know where
statesmanship went—long gone, the victim of partisan politics, but what of
legitimacy itself?
One might wonder if it is
legitimate to continue to support a Saudi government in the clear evidence of
primary responsibility for the 9-11 attack on the World Trade Center, their
support of the most radical forms of Islam and continued human rights
suppression. This is best and most recently indicated by the murder and dismembering of a critical
journalist within their
embassy in Turkey. 
Yet armaments sales are offered as a
reason (more likely the reason) for
the unreasonable, because profits and jobs at Boeing, Lockheed and Ratheon are more important and we must use them to stabilize oil prices, even as oil fades as an energy source. They
are on our side against Iran in the
Middle Eastern death spiral.
Reasons, reasons aplenty, but
are they legitimate?

Like fall follows summer, one illegitimacy leads to
another.
Is it legitimate to struggle
against nuclear proliferation and, at the same time, flood the nations of the
world with the latest non-nuclear weaponry? Does it make sense to profit by
selling arms, then be surprised by their use and ultimately find, to our utter
amazement, that entire nations have been destroyed? Who (if anyone) will
rebuild Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and Palestine?
Selling arms is profitable, but rebuilding nations,
lives and cultures is an expense beyond all capability and understanding.
Profit has given way to all the human values we cherish—the very definition of
illegitimacy. 
Or perhaps, in our hearts, we no longer cherish them. Maybe the too-quick news cycle makes everything yesterday’s news, including our emotions, basic morality and sense of fairness.That’s a possibility. 
And yet this destruction doesn’t fall
upon the heads of the destructors. Victims are others, not like we who profit. Their destroyed lives, blown apart
homes and murdered children are not our
lives, homes and children. If they die and drown and are kept in camps for
generations in an effort to escape, it is not we who suffer that fate. That scale by which we judge those events is
by definition, illegitimate .
So, if the others
have been singled out and identified, who are the we of whom I speak?  
We are the collateral damage, the innocent (or
not so innocent) bystanders to the wreckage of world-order and we pay the price
in other ways. The cost-benefit ratio arrives at our door on
little-cat-feet, like old age creeping up year by year and almost unnoticed.
The we I refer to are you and I,
the increasingly politically polarized, Democrats and Republicans,
Independents, those fed up with politics in all its paid-off forms and too
weary in our own life-struggles to even pay attention. 
We worry instead about
what we can deal with—paying the
bills, keeping our jobs, putting food on the table and knowing, deep in our
hearts that our kids will never be able to afford college, much less a home of
their own. 
Christ, that’s enough on our plates at this moment, thank you very
much.
But it goes beyond even that. We arrived at this unhealthy
and debilitating state of affairs by forty (and more) years of our two major
political parties ignoring the American national condition in favor of what can
be called nothing other than the politics of the highest bidder. Democrat or Republican, they
are both co-conspirators in this
downward cycle. 
We talk about economic
inequality
, but that’s far too bloodless a term. That’s something that
affects others. 
But increasingly we
have become the others
. The super-wealthy captain the political ship and the
rest of us are mere economic waste, thrown overboard. That’s not legitimate in a democratic republic, but
it’s the fact.
Profit rules.
There
is no profit in schools
, except for those engaged in the climb to
a better life and that climb is not of interest to those already at the top. Nor is there a profit in solving
homelessness, paving highways, repairing bridges or bringing business back to
Main Street by clawing it back from Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart is profit and so is the weapons industry that consumes the 50% of
our national budget that could solve all of the above. So, when peace comes too
close, Washington rattles the sabers of war in its many forms to keep the
wealthy wealthier. And we go along, confused by the rhetoric and defeated by
the very process.
The $trillions wasted in the
Middle East would have solved every single
national issue of our gradual decline—but they weren’t profitable, except to you and me and our kids. 
It might be a good
thing to note that our mighty, all consuming military hasn’t won a single war since WWII. What it has done is destroy our international
reputation, along with the lives and cultures of many nations. We don’t even know how to get out of these unwinnable
wars, as our longest war in history muddles on toward its 17th year in
Afghanistan. 
That war, combined with Iraq, just brought us (and bought us) another
generation of a Vietnam-style wounded veterans. The rich weren’t there. The cost-benefit was paid for by you and me.
The mid-term national elections are around the corner. They
are the most ignored of our already tragically underrepresented opportunities
to take back control of an, arguably, out of control national politics.
I beg you to vote. I don’t
care who or what you vote for, but please see that you’re voice is heard in November.
Your kids and mine are depending on us.

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