Carlyle Fielding Stewart III

Writings on Democracy, Social Justice, and Religion

A Principle Centered Democracy? Part II

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The discussion that Helmut and I had about the need for a principle centered democracy in the previous article veered off into the numerous racial problems preventing American democracy from actualizing its highest virtues and principles.

Helmut felt there are still too many racial, class and cultural barriers among Americans for a true principle centered democracy to be realized because certain populations are always fighting for their basic rights to live free in a society whose cardinal virtue is freedom. Wherever those freedoms are hampered and lost, the politics which fail to protect them become a form of vice.

The real concern that Helmut and I did not cover in our dialogue is that in order for a principle centered democracy to be actualized, we must have principle centered and not just party centered leaders and right now in America those leaders seem few and far.

The principles should determine the party and not the party determining the principles. Who serves his or her country best serves his or her party best said Rutherford B. Hayes.

All political parties should prioritize their constituencies. Republicans can still advocate the interests of the rich but not always at the expense of the poor. Democrats can still advocate for the middle class and poor, but not always negate the interests of the rich.

Maybe I am naive but it seems to me the principles of political equity can traverse party lines for Republicans and Democrats without the either-or, one sided, unilateral approach to politics.

There is still enough compromise to go around and still enough “candy and grits”to be had by everybody.

A man asked “Why do you have to take my brown bag and my little lunch and my milk when you already own the company that makes the bags and produces the food and milk and the candy snack of which my lunch is made?”

As an independent, I still firmly believe the issue is not so much the party but the principles upon which it stands and if we were to analyze the foundational ideas of Republicans and Democrats, we would discover that Democrats have a more compassionate platform for the uplift and equitable treatment of all Americans and not just the rich and powerful.

The Democrats have a more unified vision of America. Their party numbers provide a kaleidoscope of all Americans with whites, blacks, women, Mexicans, Asians, Latinos, women, men, gays, lesbians, rich, poor, rural, suburban, urban, middle class, upper middle class and upper class, blue collar, white collar and no collar; which represent a greater variety of people shaping America’s political future.

No party is perfect but at least the Democrats have a greater vision for more people which is good for America.

There is power and strength in diversity. That is the true meaning of America which makes America great. Every nobody can become a somebody and every somebody can become an everybody.

Mind you, nothing is wrong with serving a particular political constituency. We need both parties and we need more political parties who represent even a broader cross section of people in our nation.

Yes, we need a system that meets the needs of the rich, middle and poor; the have and the have-not, but it seems to me that those who “have not” appear more compassionate and empathetic than some who have.

Democracy is about representing all the people but we don’t need a system that gives everything away to the people who already virtually have and control everything.

Without principles, American democracy has careened off course with its current one party rule and its lop- sided vision.

Without principles, our nation is sadly morphing into an authoritarian oligarchic klepto-autocracy where only the wealthy few have the power to determine America’s destiny.

We do not mean to suggest that all wealthy people are not charitable, fair, just or compassionate or do not want a more equitable society for all Americans. While many, if not all rich people, benefit from Republican policies- and many of them should cry louder and push back if they do not share the present platform- there is a small cohort of people who are determining the Republican agenda and imperiling the future of all Americans.

This diminutive group of power brokers seem to want an end to America as we know it. They want the pauperization of many, the supreme elevation of the few, and the Gulagization of all.

And while they may have good intentions and believe in their hearts and souls that they are doing the right thing, the disastrous result of their continued influence will reverberate to the detriment and destruction of America if the present course remains unchanged.

It is this quest to always put profits over people. Where is the middle ground? Where is the Golden Rule? It is the drive to destroy our ecosystems and deny the facts of climate science; it privatizing public lands and turning them over to corporations for fracking and drilling; it is confiscating the hard earned benefits of workers; repealing health care for Americans, crushing the confidence and aspirations of the middle class and the poor.

It is fostering a world where the persecution of Jews, Muslims, Arabs, Blacks, LGBT’s, and others for political pay-dirt are nurtured and sanctioned.

It is creating a mindless culture of cruelty which insists on always having its way without moral prescience or conscience. It is wrongfully bullying, crushing and demonizing other branches of government for not towing the party line and virtually criminalizing citizens who vigorously petition their rights and freedoms.

It is living by alternative facts rather than cold hard truths.

It is slowly dismantling our constitutional republic and representative democracy by always decrying the vices of big government as opposed to advocating the virtues of good government and refraining from bad government.

It is leadership that has lost its way; abandoned its higher principles and purposes and jettisoned a loftier vision of what America is and where America should be going.

Moreover, it is unprincipled leadership driven more by greed and a lack of civility which is determined to have its way at all costs even at the peril of the nation. If we continue down this course we will lose it all.

Let me get biblical here.

The handwriting is on the wall and it is not a forgery. (Book of Daniel.)

And what about the virtues of the Good Samaritan?  We appear to have adopted the philosophy of the robber who waylaid the man on the Jericho Road and the philosophy of the man who passed him by and did not offer help. (The Gospel of Luke.)

The philosophy of the robber is, “What’s yours is mine. I’ll take it.”

The philosophy of the man who passed by is, “What’s mine is mine. I’ll keep it.”

But the philosophy of the Good Samaritan is “What’s mine is yours. I’ll give it.”

This small coterie of powerful people control the Republican Party and appear at times to function more in fog and folly than in faith and freedom.

We could not come this far without government of the people, by the people and for the people. America is still the greatest country on earth, but we are wasting so much of our good potential with this  “I’ll take what’s yours” mentality.

What happened to the more moderate vision of Republicanism, which did not always abide Democrats, but tempered their approach to politics by listening to and sometimes supporting the opposition for the good of all Americans?

If current trends continue, America will not last as long as the Roman Empire. History teaches that “when Rome won its Empire it lost its Republic.” 

The current inequities cannot long abide. No entity can last by drubbing and abandoning its core values and principles. The Republican Party’s unwavering defense of the super rich and powerful individuals and corporations and have largely denied and harmed the middle class and the poor.

Friends, what we have here is the failure to be compassionately principled.

There was a time in the old days when the philosophy of giving crumbs from the table had currency. It appears that for some Republicans today, there shall be no bread, there shall be no crumbs, there shall be no table, there shall be no kitchen and there shall be no house for the middle and least of these.

“So let them eat Styrofoam?”

The truth is Republicans and Democrats have virtues and can create formulas for service which benefit both rich and poor, the betwixt and between in America. The problem is when a political party only seeks to serve its wealthy benefactors to the grievous detriment of the poor and middle class.; when legislation is only proposed by the party in power which hinders the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness by every person; when it continually proposes legislation that gives more and more to those who won’t really shrink from not having more, especially if it means subtracting more from the working poor, then what we have is unprincipled leadership which leads to an unprincipled political system which will eventually lead to tyranny and corruption and a dystopian society which cannot long last with such grievous inequities.

“I may not want riches untold and own land farther than I can see but can I have my share of bread and water and hope for a future for my family and me?” asked one man one day to me.

A principle centered democracy can only be strengthened and survive for the long haul by principle centered leaders who lead a principle centered government which makes for a principle centered republic for the good of us all.

We need good government comprised of good leaders who care about all the people. We need principle centered leaders who will do good for as many people as they possibly can and by so doing, do good for all Americans.

I see this spirit more among Democrats more than I do among Republicans which is a “crying shame” in the words of my late grandmother-both she and my grandfather were staunch Republicans but that was a different time in America- because so much great potential among Republicans is plain ole wasted.

“Never have so many dallied their good potential for so few.”

When the leaders get better democracy gets better.

When democracy gets better the people get better.

When the people get better America gets better.

“When everybody does better, everybody does better,” says one of the most important commentators of our times.

It’s the principle that makes the difference in politics and in life.

I love my country but I abhor the direction it is going which ultimately means that we do not have to make the same egregious mistakes of other great nations in history.

It will mean the undoing of us if we do not have the courage to make a huge political U Turn.

“If our leaders don’t lead the right way for all of us we will end up where democracy remains for none of us.”

God bless America anyhow!





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