Shelton A. Gunaratne, Moorhead, Published November 17 2012
Letter: Americans went with the middleThe 2012 federal elections showed that the American electorate has chosen the Middle Path (the Buddhist principle of madhyama pratipada) between the extremes of capitalism (yang)) and socialism (yin) as the preferred way to solve the monumental economic and social problems of the country.
Voters re-elected Democratic President Barack Obama, the Middle Path protagonist, with a massive 332 electoral votes compared to the 206 for Mitt Romney, his abrasive Republican antagonist. However, the popular vote for president indicated that the country was divided between Democrats (50.5 percent for Obama) and Republicans (47.9 percent for Romney)
The Center for Responsive Politics estimated that the Democrats and the Republicans together spent some $6 billion on their political campaigns, a record.
The expenditure per person was about $18. Thus, the lust (tanha) for power propelled by the law of the fish (matsya nyaya) has added fuel to the suffering (dukkha) reflected in the country’s national debt of $16.3 trillion.
What it could buy
As a naturalized citizen, I wonder how this country could tolerate such a huge expenditure on political advertising completely oblivious to the magnitude of its national debt.
As the Fiscal Times put it: “The campaign funds could cover 4 billion AA batteries for displaced Hurricane victims, 858 million six-packs of Budweiser, and pay for the entire population of Texas to go skydiving.”
Much of this campaign expenditure went into funding the more than 1 million presidential TV ads put on air between June 1 and Oct. 29. The unlimited “dark money” raised by the super PACs from millionaires and billionaires, who did not have to reveal their names, benefitted Republicans. Not to be outdone, the Democracy Alliance of the liberal rich, including George Soros, pumped more than $10 million into pro-Obama super PACs. The claim that small contributions financed Obama’s campaign was only partially true.
Two U.S. federal court rulings in 2010 determined that under the First Amendment, no limitations could be imposed on super PACs because that would mean a denial of “freedom of expression.”
How the justices could equate unlimited and unattributed campaign expenditure with First Amendment rights baffled me. I am puzzled by this cynical interpretation of the First Amendment to vitiate our democracy as “a hypocrisy” of government of the rich, for the rich, and by the rich.
Fortunately, the Trojan horse called the tea party, the troglodytes who formed the extreme right wing of the GOP, failed to create such “a hypocrisy” for another four years. Their dictum was that “free enterprise” with no or minimum government interference would solve all the problems the nation faced. They alienated poor whites, immigrants, single mothers, racial/social minorities, young and the old.
In 2012, roughly three of every 10 voters were minorities. African-Americans chose Obama by 93 percent, Latinos by 71 percent, and Asian Americans, the nation’s fastest-growing minority, by 73 percent. In their racial approach, today’s GOP has more similarities with Jackson Democrats than with Lincoln Republicans.
For increasing numbers of immigrants from non-Western countries, the white founders of America do not mean much, nor does the primacy of the old Constitution the founders created. New immigrants want to embrace democracy and cultural diversity, not “a hypocrisy” and cultural assimilation.
Although some degree of assimilation is inevitable and desirable, new immigrants prefer diversity within unity. Considering the projected demographics of the country, Americans have no alternative but to opt for the Middle Path. The tea party is over.
Gunaratne is the author of an autobiographic trilogy – one book titled “Village Life in the Forties: Memories of a Lankan Expatriate” (iUniverse, 2012); and two volumes titled “From Village Boy to Global Citizen” (Xlibris, 2012).