I've posted before that I think the United States is on the decline. However, in the space of a week, the illustration of the depths to which it has sunk has come to the fore.
In a Republican Presidential debate last week, Rick Perry was asked a question about his record in Texas where he has presided over two hundred executions, and whether he had any concerns that any of the people executed may have been innocent. A legitimate question, given that there is significant evidence that at least one innocent man has been put to death, and that Perry impeded the investigation into the circumstances. Putting that to one side, before the question was even finished, at the point where the number of people executed was mentioned by the host, the crowd cheered and whistled. Perry said he had no concerns, and that "if people come into our state and kill our citizens" they will face execution. More applause.
How artfully framed. How beautifully Christians-to-the-Lions. The so-called Republican Party faithful, the "pro-life" party, enthusiastically cheering the deaths of criminals who have been defined by Perry as "not us". Somehow, they have come in from the outside and killed "us". So vengeance equals justice. And if the accused haven't received a fair trial, or are innocent, or are mentally retarded, who cares? Kill 'em all and let the Lord sort 'em out.
Say what you like about capital punishment, but for me this is always the biggest issue for me. An imperfect legal system can lead to the innocent being put to death in my name. I believe some criminals deserve death, but until perfect safeguards against this type miscarriage of justice can be put in place, then the risk is too great. We can compensate someone falsely imprisoned. We cannot compensate someone wrongly executed.
But this post is not about the death penalty per se, or even about Perry's lack of conscience about the lives he has taken in the name of the people of Texas. It is about the reaction of the crowd. And so, we come to the next debate.
The host asked Ron Paul a hypothetical about a healthy person who has no health insurance and gets badly sick. Who pays? Paul started to go on about how that is a risk that people take, that the government should not have to take care if them. Of course, this ignores that fact that many people in the US, such as the poor or unemployed, aren't taking a risk - they simply cannot afford insurance but aren't poor enough for Medicaid. Or that in some cases insurance doesn't cover some conditions, leading people into debt and bankruptcy. The host went on to ask, "should society just let them die?". And this is where things left me disgusted.
People applauded, and some shouted "Yeah!". Paul went on to say no, that in the past churches and charities looked after those who could not afford health care. Yeah, see how well that worked out in the past. We have programs like this paid for by taxes because relying on charity failed to help all in need.
I am sure this kind of barbarous survival-of-the-fittest mentality has always been out there. Can't get a job - your fault. Don't have insurance? So sad. Why should my taxes go to support these moochers? Not a shred of human compassion or decency. Applauding executions as if the death of a person, potentially an innocent person, is entertainment. But now, people feel that they can act this way in public? People can actually go out, into a crowd on national television and exhibit their heartlessness towards others.
This is pathetic. These people will be selecting one of those eight morons on the stage as the Republican candidate in 2012. These people don't care about the suffering of others if it affects their taxes. These are probably the same people who want to further inflict suffering on the sick and the elderly by getting rid of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, just so their taxes don't have to rise. Cheering death. Allowing the sick to die in the gutter, or choose between food and medicine. And in good conscience they most likely go to church on Sunday and listen to the preacher talk of the Sermon on the Mount and not see the irony.
I hate to say it, but the United States deserves all it gets if one of these people is elected in 2012. But I hope their greedy, hateful, pathetic brand of politics dies in a ditch before it further infects our politics here.