Yes, those who try to follow Epicurus and his teachings are not supposed to involve themselves in politics. And yes, and many Epicureans are also libertarians, and certainly do not vote Democrat. Epicureans are few and far between, so one doesn’t want to alienate those with whom one would otherwise agree. But if the greatest objective in life is happiness, peace of mind, tranquility and freedom from fear and anxiety, then one would prefer a government that offered policies that helped it all along. And that is certainly not on offer from the current American administration.
The outcome of the mid-term elections was tame in comparison to what it ought to have been. The pundits are waxing lyrical about the recent political cataclysm visited upon the Republican party, calling it a tsunami and similar epithets.
But is it?
In any other democratic country a dismal record of chronic incompetence such as that of Bush would be properly punished. The Republicans would be wiped out, just as the Labour Party was at the beginning of the Thatcher era and the Tories were when Blair came to power in Britain. Now those were real political changes.
So why did the electorate deal so gently with the incompetents, who have done so much to endanger America and increase terrorism? The answer lies, firstly, in the gerrymandering of constituencies, which guarantees most incumbents their jobs, come what may. Only moderates representing the few marginal constituencies, are really vulnerable to defeat.
Secondly, it lies with the control of the press, radio and television by right-wing owners and corporations over large swathes of the country. The war is reported cursorily, the sex scandals alluded to in passing, but the full political news is passed over in favor of minor local issues. Serious reporters are being sacked and the airwaves are filled with the likes of Rush Limbaugh.
The Democrats have to do two serious things during the two years they are likely to control Congress:
1. Appoint a serious, non-partisan commission to oversee the settling of constituency boundaries and take it out of the hands of people like De Lay and activist Republican judges.
2. Pass a law limiting the ownership of media outlets to, say, one TV station, five radio stations and three newspapers (to be debated). Naturally, the people most involved in restricting free speech and information will label this a restraint of free speech and information. But it is crucial if democracy is to be restored to health. There can be no democracy without the free flow of information and a fully informed electorate, and to claim that the political blogs are the answer is disingenuous – – only a small number of people will ever have the time in their lives to scour the political blogs, however thorough and worthy. The great mass of Americans will still absorb fair and unbalanced propaganda from the traditional media, if they pay attention at all.