As I was writing my previous article a recurring thought crossed my mind: Republicans spend much of their time condemning people’s private lives instead of defending democracy.
Politicians are not moral police officers. They are there to serve the people. This means everyone. It means being a bit less judgemental when it comes to people’s private lives. Republicans (and all elected officials) should spend a little more time being public servants, not public masters.
Do we think regulating people’s private lives is more important than regulating out-of-control capitalism? Do we need another financial crisis (and it’s going to happen if we maintain status quo) before we demand accountability from the people who are responsible?
I decided to write this post after reading Robert Reich’s article, The Difference Between Private and Public Morality. This topic has been on my brain lately and I was happy to see Reich wrote about it. All of the talk from conservatives about morality and how people should live their lives and not once do they condemn the actions of a few wealthy and powerful people on Wall Street who are responsible for the suffering of millions. Instead its gay marriage, birth control and how Obama is responsible for high gas prices.
Reich says, “America’s problem isn’t a breakdown in private morality. It’s a breakdown in public morality. What Americans do in their bedrooms is their own business. What corporate executives and Wall Street financiers do in boardrooms and executive suites affects all of us.” Gay marriage and birth control are not responsible for the tens of millions of people out of work. Nope, it took the work of a few astonishingly greedy Wall Street assholes to pull that off.
There is moral rot in America but it’s not found in the private behavior of ordinary people. It’s located in the public behavior of people who control our economy and are turning our democracy into a financial slush pump. It’s found in Wall Street fraud, exorbitant pay of top executives, financial conflicts of interest, insider trading, and the outright bribery of public officials through unlimited campaign “donations.”
Abuses of public trust such as we’ve witnessed for years on the Street and in the executive suites of our largest corporations are not matters of private morality. They’re violations of public morality. They undermine the integrity of our economy and democracy. They’ve led millions of Americans to conclude the game is rigged.
The game is rigged, and both political parties are to blame, but Republicans would like to make it much worse with less regulation and more tax breaks to the same people who have helped rig the game in the first place. And they want to do this at the same time they tell you what you should and shouldn’t do in your private life. This is very far from Abraham Lincoln’s “of the people, by the people, for the people.”