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Blog of Mass Destruction

The Moral Divide

By The Reverend Published: January 24, 2011

Tomorrow night President Barack Obama will deliver the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. No doubt, Obama will explain that the State of the Union at the beginning of 2011 is strong and getting stronger. That is what Americans want to hear....and that is what a President looking to his own reelection will tell Americans.

The NY Times has given us an outline of what Mr. Obama will be saying tomorrow night.

Obama will be....

....striking a theme of national unity and renewal as he stresses the need for government spending in key areas and an attack on the budget deficit.

Seems contradictory to me. But that's what Americans have become used to hearing......political words and slogans that make little sense in a 9.4% unemployment environment.

Mr. Obama previewed the themes in a video e-mailed Saturday evening to supporters who had helped in his election campaign. But the video made plain that his speech would be geared more broadly toward the political center, to independent voters and business owners and executives alienated by the expansion of government and the partisan legislative fights of the past two years.

The speech tomorrow will mark the kickoff of Obama's 2012 reelection campaign. What a pragmatic president looking to get reelected knows.... is that his timid, incrementalist, conservative change agenda cannot continue unless centrists, independents and moderates reelect him.

If you are the least bit progressive, tomorrow's speech will most likely be a disappointment. The very notion that "business owners and executives", have been "alienated by the expansion of government..and legislative fights".....I'm sorry, makes me want to retch.

Corporate profits set a new, all time record high in the last recorded quarter and those same wildly profitable corporations are sitting on $2 trillion in inactive cash reserves.....yet Obama must address the executives of all those flush businesses because they feel "alienated." Seriously.....I'm puking.

Obama recently appointed the job outsourcer, GE's Jeff Immelt, to head his Orwellian-named, Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. I have no idea whether the "Jobs" and the "Competitiveness" parts of Immelt's "Council" are referring to Chinese jobs and competitiveness...or not. Immelt has learned, like all "alienated" CEO's, that Chinese jobs are the answer to corporate competitiveness. American workers, unless they're willing to work for Chinese wages, can't help GE stay, you know, competitive. U.S. corporate regulations and corporate taxes are also oh-so-in-the-way of even greater corporate profits....so Obama has plans to lower corporate tax rates as well as "review" corporate regulations.

Maybe it would just all be easier if Barack Obama ran in 2012 as a Republican. At least my constant nauseousness might be cured.

Which leads me to what I really want to talk about today.

The state of our union is not good. America is unhealthy. America is divided, possibly hopelessly so. The reason America is failing and unable to confront the problems which are hollowing out the nation, is because the red/blue state demarcation lines of the 2000 election have morphed into a permanent and irreparable political schism. That unhealthy political divide, as Paul Krugmann remarks, is one in which two moralities are pitted against one another.

The divide in America is one over different moralities...

For the great divide in our politics isn’t really about pragmatic issues, about which policies work best; it’s about differences in those very moral imaginations Mr. Obama urges us to expand, about divergent beliefs over what constitutes justice.

One side of American politics considers the modern welfare state — a private-enterprise economy, but one in which society’s winners are taxed to pay for a social safety net — morally superior to the capitalism red in tooth and claw we had before the New Deal. It’s only right, this side believes, for the affluent to help the less fortunate.

The other side believes that people have a right to keep what they earn, and that taxing them to support others, no matter how needy, amounts to theft. That’s what lies behind the modern right’s fondness for violent rhetoric: many activists on the right really do see taxes and regulation as tyrannical impositions on their liberty.

There’s no middle ground between these views.

No there's not. But that's the reality. Time was when Republicans, like Ronald Reagan and Bob Dole, accepted a strong American safety net, accepted the framework of Roosevelt's New Deal, and, at times, even worked to strengthen it. But those times are long gone.

One side of the morality dualism which divides us finds it's basis in the Puritanical Protestantism brought here by Europeans long ago. In this brand of morality, a citizen of America gets what they deserve. Personal responsibility is the central pillar....and a government which is seen as weakening that pillar must be reigned in and/or stopped.

The other side of divided America plumbs it's moral position for a strong government safety net using the moral imperative to help the vulnerable, the poor, the downtrodden, the elderly, and the marginalized.

Both morality viewpoints are vital to a healthy society.....however, only one side in our current morality division is willing to compromise....and so our national political division will only worsen.

Obama, the man who rose to the presidency on his, "there are no blue or red states...there is only the United States of America"....will say again tomorrow night that America is strong and united as one. It's what he has to say in order to hold onto independent, centrist and moderate voters in 2012.

But saying it does not make it true.

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