I think artists are always investigating how to have an economic, political platform. —Jeff Koons
Another Sunday morning. I’ve already taken the dog for his morning walk, both of us enjoying the extra light from the full Hunter’s Moon. The second pot of coffee is on. Dishes are washing in the dishwasher. Clothes are drying in the dryer. For the moment, everyone is asleep except me and the black cat, Burberry. She’s taking advantage of the quiet to give herself a thorough cleaning. For however many seconds this lasts, it is calming.
We are so incredibly inundated with politics this season that there seems to be no escape. I don’t mind admitting I’m concerned. I doubt the accuracy of polls in a race where a large number of voters are likely to go with a literal coin toss on election day. With Russia threatening, Yemen simmering, and Syria ready to explode (again), moments like these where my blood pressure is almost back within normal range are few.
At moments like this, I can’t help wondering what might be Poppa’s sermon topic were he preaching this morning. He disliked politics and didn’t think they belonged anywhere near the pulpit. Yet, in an atmosphere as politically charged as this one, even the church isn’t immune.
Perhaps he would artfully dodge the matter by talking about love as a political platform. He would use John 13:34 as his text: A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. He liked that passage. From there, he would develop the political platform based on the qualities of love. Perhaps something like this:
Love As Domestic Policy
When developing any political platform, one has to first consider how they are going to handle matters here at home. Certainly, we can use a lot of love right here, right now, and there are myriad ways love could be applied. One strong move might be to dissolve the two existing major political parties. They have become so incredibly polarized that they are no longer able to function. The hate between the two sides of the aisles in Congress has brought much-needed legislation to a standstill. Dissolving both parties and starting over with a stated intent of working from a basis of respect, loving those of contrary opinion, willing to sacrifice for the sake of consensus, would set a strong example for the people of the United States to follow.
Across the country, applying love through everything the federal government does would have a profound effect. We would end mass incarceration, mandatory sentencing, and find ways to actually help those who are challenged to fit into society. We would take an attitude of moving from community policing to community helping, perhaps putting more social workers on the street who can help people address problems before any law is broken. We would abolish the failed war on drugs, look at the legitimate power of cannabis, and address the basic conditions that lead to severe drug use.
A political platform that uses love for domestic policy invokes radical changes in the way we think, in the way relate to each other. We are not adversaries as many would have us believe. We are brothers and sisters committed to each other in Love, and that is a power that can take communities from the slums to the heights of prosperity, from crime to celebration, and from desperation to hope.
Love As Economic Policy
The economy is a huge and very sensitive issue in any political platform. When President Obama first entered office in 2009, we were in the throws of the worst economy since the Great Depression. Yet, while the numbers say that the economy has improved dramatically, those improvements haven’t been felt on the street where people are still struggling. That we need to apply some love to our economic policies seem obvious, but exactly how would we do that?
Perhaps we need to start by de-incentivizing greed. Love does not hoard, love gives. We have, since the beginning of the stock markets, based our measurements of economic growth based on monetary accumulation. We look at sales growth as a primary indicator of a company’s value with no consideration of whether they bring any actual benefit to the national or global population. If we change our valuation away from one that rewards greed to one that rewards actual benefit, we incentivize growth that is actually felt outside the corporate boardroom.
Love also is found in an economy where no one has too much and no one has too little. Our national wage system is in tatters and reinforces a social caste system that keeps the poor and disadvantaged, especially people of color, from making any personal economic progress. Yes, love rewards those who achieve, but it does not turn its back on those who struggle. Love sets a wage standard that allows everyone to live without need, without fear of being in want, and with an ability to be proud of who they are and what they do.
Love As Foreign Policy
Insomuch as the United States is a global power, we have a lot of influence in what happens around the world. We have the ability to change everything from the spread of deadly disease to the ability to grow crops and make a region self-sustaining. We have, too often, used our influence and power for bad. The world desperately needs for us to turn our foreign policy around and use it to spread love across the globe.
We do that by funding programs and providing assistance to efforts that help people, not those that hurt them. We spread love by helping to stabilize economies so that there is an absence of need. Love comes not when we sell our surplus weapons so that one tribe can have power over another, but when we trade their weapons for food, medicine, and economic support.
To those who insist on war and doing harm to others, we respond first to those they victimize, welcoming refugees, especially those persecuted and in need of medical attention. We keep our offers of love on the table at all times, but we fund no one’s aggression and do not allow our acts of kindness to be manipulated and misused. We defend where we must, but we do not utilize aggression as a means of getting what we want.
Love As Education Policy
Love facilitates learning throughout one’s lifetime. Love looks for ways to remove the barriers to learning whether they be financial, logistical, emotional, or intellectual. Love finds ways to help those for whom learning is a challenge and is not satisfied with any excuse for one not being taught to the full level of their potential. Love rewards those who learn and encourages them to use what they know, along with the skills and talents they possess to make the world a better place.
Love also understands that as much as we are all lifetime learners, we are also teachers. Some may teach in a classroom, others may teach through skill development or helping to advance understanding in critical thinking. Love values teaching because it understands the necessity of teaching to improve the learning that moves the world forward. As a political platform, teaching is critical because we have, for too long, relied on inappropriate standards of measure that punish actual broad instruction. Love gives teachers room to utilize different styles, methods, and pedagogies to meet the instructional needs of their students.
More than anything, Love shares knowledge and wisdom with respect, teaching history with regard to its impact on different cultures, teaching science as the progressive understanding of the earth based on fact rather than mythologies, teaching mathematics in light of its practical applications, and teaching the arts as an open expression of culture and personhood.
Love As Healthcare Policy
There is no political platform that can promise to make everyone well, to increase everyone’s longevity, or prevent new disease. Living and loving involves risks and where there are risks there is inevitably pain and infirmities that love on its own cannot prevent nor take away. How love responds to these critical moments of need starts by, once again, removing the greed incentive that has placed adequate healthcare out of the reach of many. Healthcare as a profit center is not love. Medicine as a source of profit is not love. Instead of rewarding the healthcare system based on the amount of profit it can produce, love dictates that reward instead be based on the amount of good being done.
Love does not deny anyone the best available healthcare, neither does it distribute care based on status or economic or social standing. Love provides to each the treatment they need at the time they need it without any unnecessary delay. Access to medicines is universal and availability of appliances such as artificial limbs are unhindered.
As policy, love takes medical care wherever it is needed, looking for creative and different ways to reach remote rural areas where care has too often been sparse and insufficient. Love leaves no one hurting and seeks to improve the quality of life for all.
Love And The Interior
Responsibilities for the Department of Interior are overly broad and too frequently under-funded. Everything from infrastructure to energy to the environment falls under this enormous umbrella and its myriad subdivisions. Yet, here too, a political platform based on love offers a more balanced and practical way of addressing the many physical needs that occur throughout our country. Love reaches out, looks forward, and protects our resources.
Love develops infrastructure based less on what currently exists and more on what is necessary for the future, looking at new technologies and embracing means of transportation that improve efficiency while reducing environmental impact. Love longs for sustainability in an energy policy that relies less on resources that can not be replaced and emphasizes those that are naturally occurring and provide benefit to the environment.
Love understands that we are firmly connected to this planet and must be good stewards of its use. Protections for waterways and all that exists within them is critical to a loving environment. Reducing our own footprint is a demonstration of love that allows those who come behind us to continue enjoying the natural wonders that fill our lives with beauty and pleasure.
Love As Social Policy
Our society is ill from all the partisan bickering to which we’ve been subjected. This is not a new disease for our country, but one which has reached such a critical point that have lost the use of some through alienation and marginalized many through hate. We need a political platform that brings love back as the dominant force in our society, encouraging and rewarding those who do for others before doing for themselves.
We need a national social policy that is wholly inclusive, so that people of color needn’t cower in fear, so that no one should ever be afraid to express who they are or what their sexuality might be, so that everyone gets an equal voice, even those with little to offer in return. A political platform based on love does not disregard the elderly no matter their age or level of ability. Neither does it leave children abandoned, starving, and without sufficient care.
Love rewards those who give, whether in terms of finances, or skills, or time spent holding the hand of one whose days are nearing their end. Love rewards those who strive for peace, diligently working to end conflicts before they escalate to violence. If the United States is to be the shining beacon of hope we want it to be, we must utilize love more than anything to stamp out all the fears that keep us from trusting, from engaging, and from appreciating those around us.
Starting A Conversation
We are, quite obviously, too late to impact this election cycle with a political platform so radical as that dominated by love. We can, however, begin a conversation that moves us forward toward a future where our political discourse is less dominated by hate. There will always be those who disagree. Vice is as much a part of the human condition as is virtue. Yet, the one we feed, the one we emphasize, the one we practice in our own dealings is the one that will dominate the next election.
All religions, not just Christianity, hold the same mandate given in scripture that we are to love one another. Love is not an option. Even if one holds no belief in a higher power, the universe demands unity, cooperation, respectfulness, and peace. We have seen the depths to which the ravages of hate can take us. Now, let us reverse course and set our sights for the heights possible through love.
Yes, I realize that this all sounds so very Pollyanish. Ideals set goals that are seldom achievable in reality. Still, we get out of our government exactly what we put in . We have endorsed hate for too long. Perhaps it’s time we try the alternative.
Peace be unto you.