Do we define ourselves, or do we surrender our individual freedom to choose and remain relevant to labels, group ties, and party affiliations? The true benefit gained from associating with other individuals comes from the exchange of ideas, which enables each individual to try on new perspectives, perhaps ones never encountered before on a personal level. I’m a staunch individualist, and have always been, and cannot imagine ever being any different. It is a true commitment to remain free-thinking in a country that is practically defined by the trademark, by the association—by the either-or mindset (you’re either ‘in the know’ or hip, or you’re not, and are thus rendered unviable). The brand of jeans one wears or the make of the car one drives carry so much weight in the personification of an individual, to the point that such banal material objects, or heavily propagandized ideas or buzz words often maneuver us, rather than the other way around.
Psychoanalysis had a major impact on humanity’s collective psyche through the middle of the last century, as it promoted the idea of repressing the dark, egotistical urges within each of us. It told us that those desires, often self-serving and fickle, should be ignored, downplayed, or dissolved by any means available to us. The 1960’s did much to bring about a backlash against that school of thought. It was the beginning of the proverbial surrender to the self, to the heart’s desire, to not only listening to our deep-rooted, self-serving whims, but to fully embracing and indulging in them. This switch in mentality became the most significant tool for the advertising industry, which simply converted freedom and self-expression into another commodity.
Since then, the very ideas and styles which have surged out of the need for change have eventually become corporatized, exploited for financial gain. The public has been convinced that rebellion means owning this specific brand of personal computer, or that carrying one’s belongings in this overpriced handbag with this particular label attached to it means we’re free. We’ve long ago surrendered our ability and right to define the principles that influence our everyday choices.
Much in the way we allow ourselves to be defined by trademarks, we often allow labels to define us in other aspects of our lives. One such example is in our political affiliation, by way of political party we see ourselves identifying with. It can be said that such loyalties serve no one more than the career politicians who rely on this very fallacy of individuals, who stop thinking when they surrender themselves to one of these very social associations, that thrive on dogma, and that pledge undying loyalty to a party, regardless of a representative’s record or personal platform. This stubborn loyalty serves the career politician because it assures them the allegiance of a significant number of constituents who are often mesmerized by the public relations campaigned used to reel them in and this then allows that candidate to focus on gaining the approval of those still undecided about him or her. This is of true detriment to all who believe in the ideals of a determined political affiliation because it does not challenge the candidate to remain true to those ideals, and it’s quite often necessary, to counterbalance the ‘influence’ placed by way of campaign contributions.
The onset of the era of the ‘progressive’ politician, who surfaces to serve as savior and great equalizer knows no better recent example than the rise of Barack Obama. The ideals placed in the forefront throughout his record-breaking advertising shenanigan became virtual products, ready to scan and bag up for the ride home. You could have expected to walk away from a rally with ‘hope’ in a box, or a battery-powered ‘change’ module of some sort to take with you. These very ideals that were uttered time and time again have long been rally points for the Democratic Party, but anyone able to remain a free thinker, anyone not still mesmerized and blinded by that commercial campaign of ’08 is able to say with much accuracy that it’s perhaps the most brilliant bait and switch operation ever devised and carried out.
When you look at each and every promise made on the campaign trail and then compare the actions and results obtained in these past three years of President Obama’s term, you cannot say he exemplifies the ideals the Democratic Party has long championed. It’s quite easy to divert from the issues at hand by bringing into the conversation other candidates and what they have or have not done. I believe in any man or woman assuming responsibility for promises made, and for the actions they take in either following through, or going against what has been promised. It is much too easy to say a man’s hands are tied because Congress would have not have ratified his plans when the man himself has gone against what he promised to do. Though I hold the same contempt for the overwhelming majority of Congress that is in office today, the responsibility for their actions rests on them, much as the President’s actions, or lack of, rest on him, solely.
Were we in a nation of individuals who cherish their individual freedom, liberty, and principles, the stubborn and unyielding loyalty to a politician that has reneged on virtually every promise would not exist. It is very common to hear people say things like, ‘I’m voting against him’, ‘I have to vote Democrat’, ‘I’d vote for him, but he’s not winning, so I’ll vote for the lesser of these two evils’, or ‘I would never vote for a Republican’. It is these very modes of thinking which assure that no significant change comes along. Career politicians who espouse endless war, debasing of our currency by way of borrowing and through the expansion of the already too-big government, and who take part in the ongoing war that’s been waged on the American people with the undermining of civil liberties under the guise of protecting us and our freedom do all these things, and it matters very little if they are Democrat or Republican, because a consensus has been reached by the overwhelming majority of candidates from both parties, since they all stand to gain when we lose.
Big government, that acts arrogantly and egotistically, devoid of true democratic participation, that acts without considering the will of the people, has proven time and time again that it does nothing but act for its own self-interest. It is why I hold such distrust for government that wishes to infringe upon more aspects of our lives. It will always claim to want to solve our problems, but the truth is big government is primarily the reason, not the solution, to most of our woes. It is why I have much more trust in people than I do in government. Charity has always benefited most from individuals, not government. It is not government or its corporate allies that give back most to a community, it is those who have least, who live life much in the same way as most others, in the middle or lower classes, that know the troubles of living paycheck to paycheck, who may wind up with a bit extra money one particularly prosperous year, and are thus compelled to give back to their community.
The great majority of politicians are already wealthy individuals, and too often have lost touch with the perils and challenges afflicting the working class. It is for this reason that I remain skeptical of those same politicians, who are usually influenced most on a financial level, rather than by principles or ideologies that serve people as a whole. When one stays away from granting government the power to choose for us we choose to trust in people instead of power-hungry men and women of wealth. There are men and women of wealth and power who remain in touch and who truly work to serve people, but they are the exception, rather than the norm.
Were the measures being implemented truly for the benefit of the nation, implementing measures or tactics that have proven effective in socialist economies, perhaps one could believe that big government’s intent was benevolent, and that it hoped to bring about change for the good of the nation. But as it’s been proven time and time again throughout history, the principles of an ideology like socialism or communism are truly diffiult to bring into existence because of the greed and corruptibility of leaders, regardless of ideology or political leanings. Power intoxicates and has a way of dissolving principles and it nearly always assures the reign of self-interest over the welfare of the masses. To surrender free thought to social associations of any sort is virtual suicide. Individuals who rely on his or her party to define the principles they hold dear, and who pledge unquestioning loyalty to fad candidates of no integrity—who are all bark and no bite—do so out of ideological intoxication and/or laziness, and are surely destined to completely surrender the very freedom which once defined this country.
J. González Solorio