Whats Wrong with the Democratic Party?

night mare

It’s been a year now since the bad dream or worst nightmare in the history of this country burst upon us.  For many of us, we still cannot believe it happened.  Never in America has a man with so little character and absolutely no qualifications to be president been elected to this office.  In my lifetime, I have seen several presidents whom I did not think were good presidents.  Nixon and Romney come to mind.  I thought Clinton should have been impeached over the Lewinsky thing.  I thought Reagan’s Star Wars Initiative was the height of stupidity.  Neither of the wars started by the Bushs did one thing to make either America or the world safer.  But the new president takes stupidity, arrogance and downright evil to new heights.  Every day, Americans wake up to a new Trump tweet declaring our hatred and belligerence to the rest of the world.  If there was ever a great depression, it is the feelings that many Americans now share about the fate of their country.

I wanted to start a blog this week without going into another political diatribe or rant as some would call them.  I know we all get tired of the unremitting bad news from the papers, radios, TV, Internet and incessant analysts that surround us like flies on poop.  Bad news sells and in our 24/7 daily schedule of unceasing commercial bombardment, we now must hear bad news from any part of the world and not just our own local geography.   If a mother murders her babies in Angola, we will see it on the front page of our local news.  If a young woman is raped in France, we will be treated to a torrent of trending stories until they get tired of the story or catch the perpetrator.  News is now not only 24/7, it is global as well.

Shortly after Trump was elected, the analysts started to figure out why Hillary lost.  I think I counted over 20 different rationales for her losing.  Everyone had their theory.  The idea of multiple causality seems to have eluded many as each pundit hawked their own explanation.  I won’t bore you by subjecting you to the list.  In a complex answer, each of these theories would be weighted and we would find that some carried more weight then others.  Among the weightier was the issue of racism.  Nevertheless, no single cause contributed entirely to Hillary’s defeat.

One issue is still important today.  There is no longer any reason to worry about Hillary’s email server or about her seeming lack of warmth.  These problems are water under the bridge.  The problem though that is still substantial and that must be addressed concerns the problems within the Democratic Party itself.   If the Democrats want to regain their former influence with Americans, they must do more than fight Trumpism.  They must also stand for something.  The Democrats may be looking better today but that is only because the Republicans and Trump look so bad.  The Democrats were once seen as the party of the working class and the champions of the underprivileged.  They clearly lost this mantle in the years leading up to the Trump debacle.  The Democrat Party has three big challenges:

  1. Moral cowardice
  2. New ideas and creativity
  3. Championing all classes as well as the working class

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Moral Cowardice:

John F. Kennedy wrote a book called Profiles in Courage.   It was about senators who defied the opinions of their party and constituents to do what they felt was right and suffered severe criticism and losses in popularity.  One of the famous stories in Profiles in Courage concerned Senator Sam Houston.  He was pulled from a train by an angry mob of constituents and threatened to be hanged because of his vote.  He steadfastly faced the mob and explained why he voted the way he did and why he would do so again.  Stories like this are rare and while that makes them inspirational, it also makes them sad.

We have a US Senate with 100 members and a US House with over 400 members.  On any given day, most of these men and women are more concerned with their poll numbers than what is good for the America people.  Partisanship has become the norm in Congress with both sides mutely aping their leadership’s call to “back their party.”

I remember well the drum beat to the first Iraq War called Desert Storm in 1990.  A year before the invasion, I could hear the calls going out for an Iraqi Invasion.  I looked for some logic for this war but could not find it.  I waited for my political leaders to counter Bush’s need for an invasion.  Almost everyone in Congress sat mutely by while Bush and his cohorts planned the invasion.  Gradually, they found more and more reasons to invade Iraq.  Gradually, the religious leaders jumped on board to support the administration.  Billy Graham declared it a justified war and held hands with George H. W. Bush while he pretended to agonize over his already foregone decision.  And still I waited and wondered why so few Democratic leaders challenged this war.  Where were the Democrats?

The Second Gulf War was not a repeat of the First Gulf War.  It was an even worse unmitigated disaster.  Trillions of dollars spent, and nothing accomplished except to make some private war contractors rich.  Where were the Democrats?  They seemed to be out looking with the Republicans for the so-called Weapons of Mass Destruction that Saddam had supposedly stockpiled.

I had a button many years ago that said on one side “Democrats: The Party of Wimps” and on the other side “Republicans: The Party of Greed.”  I do not know who printed this button but thirty years ago, the writing on the wall was clear.  The Democratic Doves feared the Republican Hawks.  Better to be labeled a Hawk than a Dove.  The term liberal was once a term of pride but under the Democrats it became associated with wasteful spending and half-baked solutions to social problems.  Bleeding heart liberal has now become a term despised by all.

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New Ideas and Creativity:

I live in two counties.  Both are predominantly Red Republican strongholds today.  However, my county in Wisconsin was once a Democratic stronghold.  Wisconsin was once a great bastion of Democratic ideas.  It was a state that was proud to have produced such champions of the underdog as Fighting Bob La Follette, William Proxmire and Senator Gaylord Nelson.  If anyone had ever told me that Wisconsin would have gone Red, I would have said they were crazy.

Now many of my “old” friends and many of my acquaintances in Wisconsin (A state I have lived in on and off for nearly twenty years now) are old line Democrats.  I confess I would rather have Democrats for friends than Republicans these days.  We share many of the same values even though I have never and will never be a card-carrying member of the Democratic Party or any other party.  I take pride in voting as an independent and not someone mindlessly following some party.

I have been each year for the past seven years to the local county Democratic Fundraisers.  Each year, I have listened to Democratic speakers who are jostling for political positions with hopes of defeating the Republican incumbents.  In some cases, more recently they have succeeded.   I can only hope this trend will continue but I am dubious.  My skepticism comes from looking at the people I see running.  Generally, they are well intentioned.  Some might even have the moral courage I want to see in leadership.  However, too many of the candidates that I have seen are either stuck in ideas from the past or lack new ideas that would bring some creativity and innovation to the Democratic Party.

Our political system not only needs new people, we need new ideas.  The same old ideas that worked in the past will not work in the future.  We need forward looking people that can challenge the existing system by promoting innovative ideas that do more than just support the status quo.  Our education system, our health care system, our prison system, our military system, our legal system, our infrastructure system and even our electoral system are all in need of more than reform.  They all need a complete restructuring.  These were systems designed for the 19th and 20th Century.  We need systems for the 21st and 22nd Century.  It is folly to think that simple reforms or piece meal patches to these systems will fix the blight and decay endemic in them.

I see too few of the emerging Democratic leaders as having a vision beyond fighting Trumpism.  That is clearly a start, but we need more than just reaction to Trump we need pro-action in our politics.  We need positive ideas.  We need new ideas.  Good intentions are not enough.

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Championing All Classes as well as the Working Class:

Once upon a time, the Democratic Party was known as the champions of the working class.  They stood up for unions, higher wages, income parity and equal opportunity.  The working class was once the class of high school graduates.  Today, more than one-third of the adult population in the United States has a bachelor’s degree or higher.  The average earnings in 2016 for those ages 25 and older whose highest educational attainment was high school were $35,615.  The average earnings for those with a bachelor’s degree were $65,482 compared with $92,525 for those with an advanced degree (Census.Gov).  The composition of the American workforce has undergone a long evolution from the agricultural era though the industrial revolution to the new information era.  Definition of working class has continued to change as social structure has changed in the age of computers and the Internet.

As educational levels continued to increase, aspirations by Americans continued to increase.  Whereas once perhaps most Americans saw belonging to a union and retiring with a pension after 30 plus years to be the epitome of working life, that vision became obsolete.  The typical worker today sees themselves as a college educated salaried worker whose interests are more aligned with their company then with any union.

My father worked for the Post Office for over 30 years before retiring.  He never thought it was a fun job or an interesting job.  For my father, it was a job that paid the bills, had good benefits and would enable him to retire with a good pension.  My father’s aspirations and attitudes towards work were like most of his generation.  The idea of being passionate about your work would have been a joke to my father and his peers.  Times have changed dramatically.  Workers today want to believe in their work and their companies.  Workers want their jobs to be challenging, rewarding and fun.  The old days of waiting to enjoy life until you retire are dead.

The workers in America are different than they were twenty or thirty years ago.  The Democrats forfeited their allegiance to the American worker and allowed the Republicans to become the champions of the American worker.  From coal miners to computer programmers, from trailer parks to gated communities across America, once proud Democrats have become Republicans.  The sad part of the story is that the Democrats did not seem to raise a finger to stop the migration.  They did little or nothing to prevent it from happening.  They allowed the Republicans to become the standard bearer of wealth and prosperity.

Unfortunately, few workers realized that their Republican champions were more about privileges for the elite than sharing the wealth.  Or that gains for the upper class would come at the expense of other classes in this country.  The concept of Trickle Down is alive and well in the Republican Party.

Conclusions: 

Democrats need to build a new party.  Trumpism is a short-term aberration.  Euphoria might be high right now for Democrats who see Trump as the best thing to ever happen for Democratic candidates.  With one of the lowest popularity ratings of any president in history, Trump will help insure a wave of Democratic Party victories.  However, it can be nothing but short-sighted folly to mistake the present disgust for Trump with a disgust for Republican principles in general.  The Republican Party became strong because they offered the American people a vision of society which promised a better life for millions of them.  Unless Democrats can come up with a compelling vision of society that addresses a wide spectrum of workers, the Republicans will regain power once their debacle with Trump is over.

Time for Questions:

How do you decide who to vote for?  Do you belong to a political party?  Why or why not?  What do you like about political parties?  What do you dislike?  What changes do you think we need to make in the political system in America?  Why?

Life is just beginning.

“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”  — GEORGE WASHINGTON, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796

“If a political party does not have its foundation in the determination to advance a cause that is right and that is moral, then it is not a political party; it is merely a conspiracy to seize power.” — DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, speech, March 6, 1956

 

Republicanville USA — 2056 CE

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I live in Republicanville USA.  It is a small town of about 1,500 people in the rural Midwest.  Today in my town, all the women are barefoot and pregnant and all the men are stupid and misinformed.  It wasn’t always this way.  Things started to change about 75 years ago, when Ronald Reagan became President.  My town had always been very progressive and liberal but we started hearing more and more about how we were being taken advantage of by the poor, those on government handouts and those too lazy to work.  The Republicans who in our town had always been a minority began to grow in numbers.  The more we heard about welfare cheats and welfare freeloaders and those on drugs taking advantage of us, the more my town embraced a new concept of democracy.  It was more like “every man or woman for themselves” rather than “all for one and one for all.”

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Our U.S. democracy which had always prided itself on a separation of church and state seemed to forget the reason for this partition.  Increasingly, a group called Evangelical Fundamentalists became more popular along with their criticism of many progressive institutions.  Republicanville USA moved more and more to the right.  The concept of unbridled capitalism became enshrined as a religion and many people began opposing “big” government and taxes.  The Republican Party preached that the marketplace could provide for all social, physical and economic needs of U.S. citizens.  My town moved even further to the right.

trump-state-of-the-unionThis conservative trend was already well underway when in 2017, a billionaire real-estate developer named Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States of America.  In addition to the hard core conservative beliefs of many mainstream Republicans, Trump added the once discredited idea of American Isolationism.  We would now put America first, no matter what.  No more negotiations with other nations unless it was clear that we got the better of the deal.  We would build a big wall to keep Mexicans and other immigrants out and we would renege on our trade deals with China and Europe.  About the only country that Trump liked was Russia.   Eventually, he agreed to give Alaska and parts of Canada back to Russia.

Trump came through on his promises to the Evangelicals that he would make America White again and put women back in the bedroom where it would be okay to grab their pussies whenever you wanted to.  Minorities were targeted for deportation and women libbers promoting abortion or equal rights for women were arrested in wholesale sweeps and sent to special detention centers for chronic complainers and protesters.

I would like to describe in somewhat more detail what my town is like now in 2056.  Things are a lot different than when I was born in 2017.  I will divide my discussion of these changes into three areas:  Family, Education and Social Issues.

Family:

another-day-in-paradiseI am 39 years old and have two children.  I have never worked (at least outside of the home) as women have not been allowed to work since 2022 when they passed the “Women in the Home Law” as it was popularly called.  The Federal government passed the law and it was ratified by every state and municipality in the nation.  Some places tried to hold out but the government cut off all funding to them until they capitulated.  This law effectively outlawed women working.  It also barred women from the military.  Ten years later (2032) they passed the “Mandatory Birth Act.”  This bill proscribes that every woman (physically able to) must give birth to at least two children.  Any woman who reaches the age of 32 and still has not given birth to two children is forcibly removed to a National Birthing Center where she will be artificially impregnated and kept confined until she has had at least two healthy children.  Sickly or unhealthy children are sent to Disposal Camps where they are “recycled” per official government propaganda.  No one is quite sure what happens during recycling but the children are never seen again.

Many gay women resisted the Mandatory Birth Act and the National Suicide Rate went up dramatically.  The “Fathers” (as our political leaders are now called) made it very clear that the country would be better off without such deviates.  Since women were no longer allowed in politics, the leaders of the nation decreed that they would all be called “Fathers” instead of being referred to as politicians or legislators as they once were called.

My husband works at a local mill where they make t-shirts for Japan, China, Brazil and some of the more developed t-shirt-workersnations.  Since banning imports of such items, we have created millions of jobs making goods that were once made in low wage countries.  The demand for such goods has skyrocketed but now we are providing them.  Unfortunately, the wages and education needed for such work is still low.  My husband did not finish high school but most men in our town do not.  The Fathers have repeatedly stated that real men don’t need higher education.  (I will talk more about education later.)

When my husband is not working, he spends most of his time watching football, baseball, basketball, golf or hockey.  I ammen-watching-game not allowed in the living room when his sports are on except to bring in some beer or chips.  This does not really bother me much as I have plenty to do with the kids, housecleaning, cooking and all.  I have my own TV in my sewing room where I can watch any of the approved programs for women.  We have 30 different “Women Only” channels where I can learn more about cooking and cleaning and how to be a good wife. There are some good romances and family drama stories that are occasionally on.  I look forward to watching these when the kids are in bed.

Our two children, Mary and John are 12 and 15 respectively.  Mary is in a finishing school for girls where they are preparing her for being a mom and wife.  She takes subjects such as homemaking, cooking, cleaning and parenting.  She has one more year to go before finishing school.

When Mary turns 14, she will be eligible for marriage.  Her name will be put in a marriage registry.  If she is lucky enough and pretty enough, some up and coming town Father will select her for a wife.  Men who qualify due to income levels are allowed to have up to five wives.

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My son John is not in school any longer and he works part-time.  The Fathers decried that girls did not need schooling after the age of 13.  John hopes to get a job in the t-shirt plant where his dad works when he turns 16.  He quit school because we could not afford a private school for him.  Only the rich kids in town go on to education beyond the 10th grade.  Private schools are very expensive and the Fathers do not believe in funding education any more.  It has been emphasized that education is an elitist program that creates class divisions and makes some people feel more entitled than other people.   Most young men in our town will work in one of the mills or plants.

Education:

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I have already talked about some aspects of our education system today.  Basically, most people do not believe in higher education anymore.  It is only for the rich.  All funds for public education were cut in 2035 when they passed the “Private Education Act”.  Most folks now send their kids to private schools through the 8th grade and then find work for their children after that.  Girls will be shortly married so school is not thought to be that important for them anyway.  They can learn whatever they need to be a good wife on the “At Home Wives Channels.”

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Boys from families with lower incomes can opt to go to privately funded vocational schools to learn such trades as t-shirt making, sneaker making, jewelry making, gun repair, taxidermy, and many other skills that might be in demand.  There is still some funding for such programs that is available for lower income families.  All public colleges have been closed now.  As I noted earlier, such schools were decried to be elitist and the Fathers were unanimous in un-funding them.

Boys from wealthier families go to the more prestigious private schools where they will learn such skills as: Leadership, Accounting, Business Development, Entrepreneurship and Medicine.  Law was abolished as a field of study in 2030 with the passage of the “No More Lawyers Act.”  This act basically made lawsuits illegal thus dramatically decreasing the need for lawyers in the U.S.

Courtrooms abolished “adversarial” trial procedures with the “No More Lawyers Act” and replaced the old-fashioned method of two people arguing trials with modern Computerized Forensic Tomography.  Using CFT, a cross section of the case and evidence pro and con is presented to the jurors.  All the available facts and data are reviewed and jurors vote on the verdict.  Trials are much more efficient and there is no need for lawyers.

Anti EducationLibraries are now mostly museums.  With the passage of the “Books Only Lie Bill” in 2038, all funds to public libraries were cut.  The Fathers decried that books did nothing but cause trouble and stir up discontent.  Anything citizens really needed to know could be found on the “Citizens Channels” offered by the government Department of Public Wisdom.  There are over 100 of these channels which are available on public TV.  They are on 24/7 and offer many programs for good citizenship.  Some of the programs are:

  • Disciplining your children
  • How to take proper care of your guns
  • Disciplining your wife
  • Obeying your supervisor
  • Getting along with co-workers
  • Obeying authority
  • Keeping a clean house

Social Issues:

Social issues or problems (as some people thought of them) have been mostly eliminated in our town.  Our Fathers banned minorities in 2040 with the “America for Whites Act.”  Under this act, no immigrants or people of color can live in the same community as White people.  In 2041, they passed the “Christian Only Act” making Christianity the official Religion of the USA.  All other religions were banned along with atheism and agnosticism.  The “Mandatory Religion Act” in 2042 made it a felony crime not to attend a Christian church every Sunday.

In our town, there is only one church now.  It the Fundamental Evangelical Christian Church for Christ.  We have two pastors who are both well versed in Old Testament theology.  They are fond of saying that “Heaven is for the obedient, the disobedient will all go to hell.”  We are taught that Jesus will come again before the end of the century to judge the living and the dead.  The good folks will go to heaven and the bad will burn forever in the flames of hell.

We still have crime in our community but not very much.  It is severely punished with public floggings, beatings and hangings.  Criminals are banished to work rehabilitation camps for hard labor.  Drugs are still a major problem but the new “One Strike Act” passed in 2050 decried that anyone caught with an illegal substance would face a mandatory life sentence at a penal colony somewhere in the South China Sea.

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Gay men still can be found but homosexuality can be punished under the “2045 Purity of Purpose Bill” with mandatory castration.  Boys are encouraged to be manly and any evidence of femininity in our boys is severely dealt with.  Our town brought back “town stocks” a few years ago, to punish any boys or men caught in homosexual activities.  These punishments plus the threat of castration have decreased the rate of homosexuality considerably in our community.

Well, I could tell you a great deal more about life in our town in 2056, but I have cleaning and cooking to do.  Furthermore, if anyone knew I was writing this I would be in big trouble.  Under the “Against Propaganda Law” passed in 2041, no one may criticize the government, any Fathers or any laws without official authorization from the local town council.  I could be publicly flogged or worse for saying these things.  Thus, for now I will just hide this away.  I don’t mean to be either a coward or a complainer.  Our Fathers say this is the Golden Age of America and that we are living in the greatest Christian country in the world.  Who am I to argue?

Time for Questions:

Are you living the good life?  Do you live the life you dreamed of?  Do you think you have a right to your dreams?  Do you think other people also have a right to their dreams?  How much authority do you think a government should have over your dreams?  What kind of dreams do you have for your children?  What do you call progress?

Life is just beginning.

“No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal.  He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves.  But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?”  ― George OrwellAnimal Farm

Republicans:  Why They Were Once a Great Party but are Now the Party of Hate, Bigotry and Greed – AKA Donald Trump– Part 1

dumb-republicansToday the Republicans have become the party of Dumb and Dumber.  The likes of Palin, Bachmann, Inhofe and Sessions are not so mute testimony to the fools that now dominate the Republican Party.  Add Donald Trump to the hand and you have a five ace hand of losers.  Every day, we read of some new evidence that shows how bigoted, hypocritical and vile the core beliefs of the Republican Party have become.  The leadership of the Republican Party seems to have no integrity.  Half of them spend their time trying to explain the inane and dangerous comments spewed out daily by their party nominee. A candidate so devoid of any character or morality that many in his own party are trying to dissociate themselves from him.  What is left of the party leadership are running around like chickens with their heads cut off.  There is no longer any true leadership in the party. Trump and his supporters are destroying what once was a grand old Party.  The party of Lincoln, which stood for freedom and equality has now become a party of fear, greed, intolerance and hatred.

Today, the Republicans even hate themselves.  They are now trying to destroy their star candidate for the 2016 Presidential elections.  A gross Neanderthal who equates money with character and morality named Donald Trump has upstaged the Party’s chosen one to rally the extremists who have now come to dominate the Republican Party.  The grand old Party which once attracted many progressives who believed in the power of the individual over the power of the state now is controlled by a clique or power structure which has no connection to the traditional core Republican values. (I will say more about these values in this blog)

“Republican voters view Donald Trump as their strongest general election candidate, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll that highlights the sharp contrast between the party’s voters and its top professionals regarding the billionaire businessman’s ultimate political strength.”  – Steve Peoples and Emily Swanson  

In addition to those who I would call the traditionalists, the Republican Party has attracted a large contingency of supporters that we can divide into the following five blocs:

  • Bigoted Voters
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  • Uneducated White Male Voters
  • Greedy Voters
  • Fearful Voters
  • Religious fundamentalist Voters

I will say more about each of these in Part 2 of this blog.   Suffice, it to say for now, that the voters in these five blocs have now taken over the Republican Party (I will also explain in Part 2 how and why this happened.)  Just like the Nazis took over Germany, the traditionalists in the Republican Party made a pact with the devil and the devil has now tinfoilhatrush3come to collect his dues.  The Traditionalists know that the candidacy of Trump will destroy the party.  There are indeed a large contingent of voters who will support Trump but by and large, the people in the USA are not so stupid or ignorant that Trump will be elected.  Mark my words on that!  Trump, who hates women, minorities, immigrants and anyone with a brain, will go down in defeat in the biggest landslide in history for our next Democratic president and he will take the entire Republican Party with him.  The stalwart traditionalists in the Republican Party understand this and that is why every day we see headlines like:

The Republican Party Tries to Take Out Its Front-Runner

“Trump has proven highly successful in manhandling a parade of bland Republican politicians. To him, Carson and Fiorina present different challenges because they both possess the outsider status that elevates them over Republican officials who have to deal with reality of some sort, and they symbolize demographic groups that are some of the biggest stumbling blocks for Republicans. The party wants to show the world that it has a black friend and a lady friend.”  — The National Memo

Returning to the concept of traditional core Republican values, you may well be wondering what they are.  The first core Republican value is freedom from intrusive government interventions.  The traditional Republican is not so much against big government as they are against a government that might try to dominate the will of the individual with the will of the state.  Hence, traditional Republicans hate the idea of gun control, federal regulations, government red tape, and government watchdog agencies.  However, they are not against “Big Military” since the military is seen as protecting those very values that Republicans cherish most.

“Where the people fear the government you have tyranny. Where the government fears the people you have liberty.”  — Barnhill, John Basil (1914)

A second core Republican value is the right to earn and keep as much money as possible.  “You earned it; it is yours to spend.”  This is a value that still resonates with much of our society.  The idea being that if I work hard, I should be entitled to spend my money anyway I chose.  What Republicans and many people in the USA hate most is the thought of working hard to earn a pot of money and then having that money taken away by a government agency to distribute to some unnamed “others.”

“That government is best which governs least;” — Henry David Thoreau

A third core Republican value is the value of a capitalistic economic system.  This value overlaps to some extent the two named values above but I believe it is a distinct value of its own.  In the USA, we are and have been a country strongly against communism and to some extent socialism.  The values of these two economic systems are seen to be in direct contradiction to the value of free enterprise and a capitalist economy.

“A market economy based on private property, buttressed by the rule of law, is truly the best environment for mankind. People will work harder and with ingenuity if they know they have earned rewards from that labor. When the rewards are given to them for nothing, there is frustration and despair. Capitalism benefits more people than any other economic system. To work for oneself and reap the rewards is a basic human aspiration.” –Sally Julian, Writer of ‘The Case for Capitalism’

The fourth core Republican Party is a conservative approach to adopting new laws or changes to the US Constitution.  Traditional Republicans have long resisted change to the US Constitution as well as new laws that they see as infringing on the rights and dictates of the US Constitution.  Hence, the Republicans have resisted many changes in the Constitution which were intended to create a more equitable society for women, minorities, disabled and those below the poverty line in this country.

Part of this resistance lies in the belief that a government cannot and should not dictate how people chose to live their own lives.  If you want to be a racist, that is your right.  If you do not want to hire women and minorities and the disabled that is also your right.  This core value has resulted in a fundamental contention between those who say that the constitution must be changed to reflect new times and new circumstances and those who do not want to see changes that might infringe on rights or responsibilities prescribed in the US Constitution.

“Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.”  — Abraham Lincoln, Speech at Kalamazoo, Michigan, August 27, 1856

The fifth core Republican value lies in the doctrine of fiscal conservatism (There are other important Republican values but I think these five are the most important).   Fiscal conservatism finds its roots in the theory of scarcity.  Money and time are both scare commodities and must be carefully managed.  Trends like cheap credit, government bailouts, deficit spending are anathema to a fiscal conservative.  A fiscal conservative wants a flat tax, balanced budget and strict guidelines for loans and government spending: “Thou shalt not run budget deficits.”  “Thou shalt not spend more money than thou maketh.”

Its-not-Obamas-faultI must confess, that I am not critical of these five core values.  I have long ago learned the value of juxtaposing opposite viewpoints so as to provide a clearer roadmap to truth and progress.  Every “ism” needs a counter “ism” and a system where the two opposing viewpoints can debate each other and Aristotle’s “Golden Mean” needs a democracy.  Capitalism must be balanced against socialism.  Liberalism must be balanced against conservatism.  Individualism must be balanced against collectivism.  One of the strengths of the United States has been its ability to allow opposing viewpoints and to strive to find a consensus among dissenting political perspectives.  Sadly, of late the constructive dissent of old has given way to a practice of destructive warfare between the two dominant political parties that has put the good of each party over the good of the country.

However, to return to the theme of this blog, the dumbing down of the Republican Party, the majority of the Republican Party now no longer seems to understand or care about these five core values.  Instead, the narrow-mindedness and shear obstructionism of the five voting blocs that I noted above have taken precedence over political compromise and searching for 1193-20120917-NoSmartPeoplethe Golden Mean.  The “Stupid Voters” are hijacked by the anti-intellectualism that has always characterized much of the political right.  The “Ignorant Voters” already believe that voting-republican1they know the truth and there is no persuading them otherwise.  The “Greedy Voters” want to keep as much of their wealth as they can and have no concern for the poor or needy.  The “Fearful Voters” are worried about crime, immigrants, health care, growing old and losing what they have already worked hard to obtain.  The last of the five Republican blocs, the “Religious Fundamentalist Voters” are worried that their biblical Christian God will be taken out of the USA and replaced by an obscure assortment of new Gods from various religions that are confusing and esoteric.

The Traditionalist Republicans (many of whom I know and hope still tolerate my views enough to call me a friend) are aghast at this assortment of new Republicans and their extreme uninformed viewpoints.  The Traditionalists could reach across the aisle and talk to their Democratic counterparts.  The Traditionalists realized the need for dialogue, discussion and compromise.  Furthermore, the Traditionalists also appealed to many independent voters (Which I am and remain to this day).  They appealed to us because we while we could ally ourselves with Democrats over many social issue, we could also see the value in the economic policies and positions often adhered to by the Traditionalist Republicans.

I can see the value in all five of the core Republican values I described above.  God Forbid, I would ever live in a country that totally extirpated even one of these core values.  Nevertheless, while I am for a balanced budget and against deficit spending, I can see making some concessions to Keynesian economics during times such as the most recent recession.  I am also for less government intrusion in our lives.  However, unlike Perry who could not name even three government agencies he would abolish, I can name ten I would abolish tomorrow if I were able to.  I am also against government bailouts.  I did not think GM should have been bailed out although I could concede with the value of hindsight that it may have been the right thing to do at the time.  And while I am against big government, I can and am equally critical of big unions.  Nevertheless, in my USA, unions and government would still have a place at the table.  I would like to paraphrase a part of Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream Speech.”

Let the Golden Mean ring from the hallowed halls of Congress!

Let the Golden Mean ring from the esteemed corridors of the US Senate!

But not only that; let the Golden Mean ring from the benches of the Supreme Court of the USA!

Let the Golden Mean ring from State Capitals in the east to State Capitals in the west!

Let the Golden Mean ring from every school and university of America.  From every village, city, town and hamlet in this great country, let the Golden Mean ring.

In my blog next week, I will explore how the Republican Party let stupidity, ignorance, fear, greed and intolerance come to dominate its political agenda.  If you are a Republican, you might not like what you are going to hear.  However, if you are a Republican, perhaps the truth that I have to tell could help you to understand what you must do to restore the Republican Party to its rightful place in the US political system.

Time for Questions:

Are you a Republican? What did you find that you disagreed with in my blog today?  What did you agree with?  Which of the Republican voting blocs are you in? Why?  Do you think the Republicans will take the next presidency?  Why or why not?  If you are a Democrat, what did you like or dislike about this blog? Why?  What do you think I should have added?

Life is just beginning. 

Republicanism is the guiding political philosophy of the United States. It has been a major part of American civic thought since its founding.[1] It stresses liberty and “unalienable” rights as central values, making people sovereign as a whole, rejects aristocracy and inherited political power, expects citizens to be independent in their performance of civic duties, and vilifies corruption.  Wikipedia

Hillary versus Bernie:  Why I Don’t Feel the Bern!

Vote HillaryOver the past few months, the vitriol between Hillary supporters and Bernie supporters has increased in both intensity and animosity.  I have had numerous arguments with Bernie supporters.  I suspect many of them were once my friends and are now no longer so.  This is interesting since you would think that we would have more in common than not.  It would not surprise me if you were a Republican or Trump supporter and banished me from your Facebook, Twitter or any other list of friends that you maintained.  However, it seems sad that so much rancor has been generated by the Hillary/Bernie battle as to result in lost friendships when we have so much in common.   I must take some of the responsibility though since I am not and never will be one to shy away from a fight.  If a fight is what you want, I will give it to you and no holds barred.  I support my candidate and I will explain my reasons but when you get personal or insulting that is the end of the line.  It would seem to be a line that is easily crossed and that reasons and emotions are two very different things.

This past week, a good friend of mine sent me the following attached letter.  It was written eight years ago.  He was supporting Hillary (The establishment figure) and I was supporting Barack (the outsider).  I hope some of my Bernie supporter ex-friends will read this blog but I sort of doubt it.  I would like for them to see that I have supported outsiders as well as insiders and my support of Hillary has nothing to do with supporting the establishment or not supporting the establishment.  Indeed, I would argue that my logic for supporting Hillary today is very similar to my logic for supporting Barack eight years ago.  How can this be?  How does one justify supporting an “establishment” figure when most of my work and writings have been anti-establishment?  Well, a quote that comes to mind is as follows:

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.  With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.  He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall.  Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said to-day. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood?  Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh.  To be great is to be misunderstood.”  —- Ralph Waldo Emerson,

I rather think I might be misunderstood by my allegiance to Hillary, but if I can stand for even a brief moment of time in the shadow of such as Socrates and Pythagoras, I will die a sublimely happy man.  In the letter below, you will see that my friend has laid out his very practical and logical reasons for supporting Hillary.  He acknowledges my candidate (Obama) but does not try to disparage or denigrate him.  This is an apt lesson that many Bernie supporters might pay attention to.  I don’t remember any of my friends calling Obama a liar or evil.  Many felt that he was unrealistic but they did not disparage his character to the extent that Republicans and some Bernie supporters have been disparaging Hillarie’s character.  If you think you are going to win me over with such attacks, you do not know me very well.  Anyway, here is the letter my friend, the Hillary supporter, wrote me eight years ago while I was then in the Obama camp.  BTY, I also voted for President Obama four years later and still have no regrets.  History will remember him as a great man, a great leader and a great president.

Hi John,

How are you doing? You know I miss speaking with you as well. There’s night time talk show here in Philadelphia. They address diverse topics. The host, Dr. Maz, reminds me a lot of yourself regarding his tone, and speed of speech. Of course, I believe that you could do a much better job because of your wit and broad range of interests. This might be something that you could look into.

Well, this certainly has been an interesting political campaign these past 2 years. I must admit that I voted for Hillary at the NJ Democratic Primary. I’ve listened closely to both people, and I believe that Hillary is the person who is most likely to bring change needed to this nation. I don’t see trying to recapture the 90’s as moving backward, but rather as retreat to a solid foundation on which one can move forward.  No change happens by itself, and one person can change little. Anyone who has tried to run an organization knows how consensus is essential to getting anything done.

One can look with pride at what our ex-presidents have accomplished after leaving office. Jimmy Carter, George Bush, and Bill Clinton have accomplished near miracles. Their experience, their contacts, and their savoir faire have changed ideas into reality. I don’t believe that those same men could have been as successful if they tried to accomplish the same tasks in their 40’s. Not because of the age but because skill takes time.

When I listen to Obama, I too am enthralled. I remember the speech Ted Kennedy gave at Robert Kennedy’s funeral. He said “Some men speak of the way things are and wonder why. My brother spoke of things that never were and asked “why not? “ I do believe in inspiration, and do believe that leadership can do wonders. But also know that this nation has done nothing of consequence to restrain the violence that is being done to Arab people around the world by the United States.  Do you expect these same people who acquiesce not only to an insidious apathy but the mindless shelling of their own tax money to promulgate a hell on earth? You think Obama’s pipe dreams will be realized? We can’t even shut down Gitmo!

My friend, Dave P, who passed away 2 years ago used to explain his reluctance to embrace radical change like this. He would say that the USA is like a large ship of state. When you want to change its direction it must be done in very small increments over a long period of time with a great deal of planning.  To do otherwise could harm the vessel and sabotage the voyage.  Radical change can not be applied to a large ship.

If I were to vote with my heart, I would have voted for Dennis Kucinich. I am in complete agreement with him, even with regard to UFO’s.  I did as much in 2000 when I voted for Ralph Nader.  These past 7 years have made me take my vote much more seriously.  If change is to come, it has to come from the ground up. My pipe dream is that as I get nearer to retirement that I will become more politically active and begin to advocate a progressive agenda at a local level.

A United States where the grass roots of the people embraced this agenda would bring far more success to an Obama presidency.  Perhaps our best shot would be the ideas of Dennis Kucinich advocated by Obama to a populous prepared to accept such changes.

Well, John, sorry it took so long to get back to you but I knew that some time should be set aside to explain myself.  There’s really so much to talk about. I don’t have a cell anymore. I do still have my home phone, 856.xxx.xxxx. I became a grand-father last year. My son, R, had his son, R. Wonderful, wonderful.

Take care of yourself, and I hope to hear from you soon.

Your friend,

Greg

————————————-

Well, it is now eight years later and today I am supporting Hillary.  The reasons I did not support her eight years ago had nothing to do with her being evil or mean or a liar.  In fact, if you believe this propaganda about her then go ahead and vote for Trump, because you deserve him.  Here is what I recently wrote to one friend who seemed sincere in understanding why I am supporting Hillary:

My reasons are as follows:  1. I cannot support most of the prevalent Republican policies ergo I need to support someone on the other side.  Either Bernie or Hillary would do here.  2. I think Bernie has been given a pass by the Republicans since they see Hillary as the biggest threat, thus I think that Bernie would soon be slaughtered when they labelled him a Commie and/or Socialist which the majority of Americans either do not support or could not tell the difference between.  Thus, he would be defeated in the general election and we could get Trump.  3. I think Hillary is a highly intelligent well qualified candidate for the POTUS.  I think she has been subjected to a double standard in which opportunistic aggressive competitive male behavior is called leadership but the same in a woman makes her a bitch or mean spirited.  Finally, I think her being labeled as a liar is part of the Republican smear campaign that has been targeted towards her for the past 4 years.  I think all politicians lie and prevaricate and she is no worse and perhaps a lot better than most.  I am voting for her not just on her character but on her policies which I think will move this country in a progressive direction.  I hope that explains my position.

My friend made several good points in his letter above about change.  Heraclitus said that you can never step in the same river twice.  Is it irony now or has the water changed?  I think times have changed.  I have obviously changed my mind.  While, I regret losing friends over this difference, I am more troubled by the Bernie people who say they will not vote or will vote for Trump before they will ever vote for Hillary.  Sometimes half a loaf is better than no loaf.  William James said:

“I am done with great things and big things, great institutions and big success, and I am for those tiny, invisible molecular moral forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, yet which if you give them time, will rend the hardest monuments of man’s pride.” 

We need visions like both Bernie and Barack brought to their campaigns.  However, we also need a large dose of pragmatism to make these visions a reality.  Rome was not built in a day.  If the people energized by this present campaign (even those who support Trump or those who support Bernie) truly want to make this country GREATER than it ever was, if they truly want to create a fair and just society, if they truly want to create a land where all its citizens are happy and prosperous, then the only way they will ever be able to do this is by staying engaged in the political process.  Coming out every four years, regardless of how much passion and how much zeal you bring to the process, will not change the systems in our country that so badly need to be changed.

I have written about many of these needed changes in my blogs.  I have put forward many progressive ideas which I hope someday will be propagated in the Congress, legislatures and courts of this land.  Reading my blogs, some might say I am too idealistic.  I would probably agree but I am not running for office.  I am trying to be a herald whose ideas might someday resonate throughout this nation and speak loudly to the American people of the changes we need.  Read some of my following blogs and see what you think.

https://agingcapriciously.com/2014/12/01/social-legacy-systems-how-they-block-change-and-prevent-progress-part-1-education/

https://agingcapriciously.com/2014/12/08/social-legacy-systems-how-they-block-change-and-prevent-progress-part-2-the-legal-correctional-system/

https://agingcapriciously.com/2015/09/27/we-need-a-fair-immigration-policy-not-an-anti-immigration-policytru/

https://agingcapriciously.com/2015/11/09/towards-a-policy-of-diplomacy/

https://agingcapriciously.com/2015/01/12/when-the-truth-will-not-set-you-free-part-1-of-2-parts/

Time for Questions:

How much time do you spend on politics?  Do you speak your peace or do you avoid confrontations?  How do you tell when you should speak up or shut up?  Can we be too political?  Can we be political and still be civil and respectful to others?

Life is just beginning.

“Revolution is about the need to re-evolve political, economic and social justice and power back into the hands of the people, preferably through legislation and policies that make human sense.  That’s what revolution is about.  Revolution is not about shootouts.”  — Bobby Seale

 

 

 

Debate versus Discussion:  Why Debates are a Waste of Time!

(Listen to the Debate Song, while you read my blog this week.)

berniedebateOnce upon a time, I thought debates were the answer to the question of “how do we discover the truth?”  I thought that if you put two intelligent people together and each took opposing positions on an issue, that through the interplay of ideas the truth would emerge.  If you think about this a bit, it is the basis for our judicial system in America.  One side argues for the defendant, the other side argues for the prosecution or against the defendant.   It is also the basis for an academic exercise called Dialectical Research or Dialectical Inquiry.

dialectical inquiryA dialectical investigation is a form of qualitative research which utilizes the method of dialectic, aiming to discover truth through examining and interrogating competing ideas, perspectives or arguments.  This latter method is often applied through the use of case studies in which students or investigators discuss real world examples of complex situations.  The purpose of a case study is to provide a more thorough analysis of a situation or “case” which will reveal interesting information to the reader.  As I use them in my classrooms, my goal for my students is to help them understand how to better form strategies for success in business.

159_TJ_Dillashaw_vs_Dominick_Cruz.0.0Unfortunately, in the real world the strategy of debate does not work.  Debates are a waste of time when honest discussion takes second place to winning or looking good.  Dialectical Inquiry is also often useless since the complexity of the subject can be beyond the ability of many students to grasp.  Real world situations are froth with uncertainty, volatility, complexity and ambiguity or as some have called it VUCA.  VUCA is an acronym used by the military to describe or reflect on the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of general conditions and situations.  Many complex situations are seldom able to be accurately modeled leading in most instances to weak images or portrayals of the actual situation.  This is why debaters opt for simple explanations rather than complex explanations.  Another example of this watering down of reality is a Hollywood movie depiction of a supposed “true” story.  Recent movies that come to mind include the following:

  • The Revenant – Story of legendary frontiersman Hugh Glass.
  • American Sniper – Story of U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle
  • Steven Jobs – Story of the founder of Apple Corporation
  • The Theory of Everything – Story of physicist genius Steven Hawking

Hollywood loves to take stories of great enterprise and or daring do and change them into a 1. 5 hour dramatic show full of love, heroism and imaginary situations that often did not exist.  Did I say lies?  Perhaps that would be more accurate.  For often, these Hollywood epics are no more than half true.  The other half are stories added for dramatic impact.  Even worse perhaps are the often skewed biases that intrude into the movie which distort the reality of the character or situation.   For instance, here is what one critic had to say about the Steve Jobs movie:

“With all this in mind, I was disappointed in the Steve Jobs movie.  Partly because as an Apple expert I watched the film in dismay as events were pulled out of context and people appeared in locations and at times where they simply wouldn’t have been around.  I can’t help but think that in his desire to avoid the chronological retelling or Steve Jobs story, a traditional childhood to death epic, in favor of three acts (which would be better suited to a theatrical production) Aaron Sorkin constrained himself too much.  The only way he could tell the story was to pull events from all corners of Jobs’ life and present them as if they had happened in the 30 minutes before a keynote presentation.”  — Karen Haslam, 10 Nov 15

I mentioned earlier that debates cannot work when winning is the primary objective.  Hollywood’s version of winning is making money.  Making money becomes a more important objective than telling the truth.  Similarly, the truth takes second place to winning in political debates.  Winning for the networks means providing entertainment to sell ads, not necessarily a stage full of erudite rationale individuals trying to discover the truth.

The 2016 debates for both the Republican and Democratic candidates have not only been a farce but they have been an insult to the American People.  Here is one comment regarding the Republican debate on TV a few nights ago:

“The GOP debate on FOX last night was an embarrassment.  The talk show hosts said it best.  This debacle stooped to a new low. Penis size?? C’mon people.  Seriously. We need to respect our President.  It is beyond my comprehension how anybody could respect this pathetic excuse for a candidate.”

politifact-photos-Trump_gesturesI have watched several of the debates now and I see no evidence that truth is being discovered.  The debates have become hyperbolic spectacles of insults, half-truths, reality distortions, innuendos and petty personal attacks.  I doubt if anyone has found much truth in these debates never mind elucidations of complex policy positions for any of the candidates.  Trump 2495-so-funny-and-true-rhetoric-wallpaper-427x454will build a giant wall.  Cruz will fix Syria.  Rubio will fix health care.  Sanders will fix inequality in America.  Hillary will fix Obamacare.  Do you know how any of the candidates will accomplish these lofty goals?  Of course not, since they know that the “debates” are no place for such a complex discussion.  Trump perhaps realizes this fact better than anyone and has kept his discussion and clarification of his policy positions to less than fifteen second descriptions.  The general consensus seems to be that if a candidate cannot explain their position on any subject in less than fifteen seconds, they are doomed, i.e., they lose.

In their book, Presidential Debates: The Challenge of Creating an Informed Electorate, (1988) Jamieson and Birdsell make a case for the importance of Presidential debates but only if certain changes are made to the usual format.  Their book was written over twenty five years ago and if you have watched the recent debates, you will note that their recommendations were not heeded.  Furthermore, the present debate formats have probably encouraged worse excesses in rhetoric and sophistry than either Jamieson or Birdsell could have imagined in 1988.  Looking historically at debates, the Lincoln-Douglas debates were the epitome of rationality and decorum.  Today, the networks want drama and entertainment.  Debates such as took place between Lincoln and Douglas would never qualify as either drama or entertainment.

debate parrotsOn a more personal level, I have a problem with debates.  I have a few friends who love to debate.  I have noted as a result of recent discussions with them concerning the Presidential elections that do not want to understand or clarify any issues, they just want to argue or perhaps debate.  I say that they want to argue, because their main agenda seems to be looking good or advancing their points and not understanding my points.  They often enter into these contests (Since that is what a debate means to them.  It seems to be a contest between winning their points and looking good or losing their points and looking bad.) with a pretense of trying to understand why I think or feel a certain way.  Sometimes, they start the “debate” with a flat out rejection of my position or with a declaration such as “you are dead wrong” or “you don’t know what you are talking about.”  I confess that such latter utterances often preclude my disposition to have a rational discussion with them.   I see no point in it.

Have you ever changed anyone’s mind which was made up?  Have you ever tried to have a rational discussion with someone who was being emotional?  Have you ever tried to explain something to someone whose main objective in talking with you was to score points or make you look stupid?  Under the rubric of “debate,” are we to think that our antagonists give one farthing for the truth or where we stand on an issue?  There is a big difference between debating me on an issue and discussing an issue with me.

The result of these “debates” with erstwhile friends have led me to two inescapable conclusions.  First, I don’t need or even want debaters in my life.  I have little time left for scoring points or winning games by making someone else look bad or proving that they are wrong and I am right.  Second, debates do not start from an honest position of fruitful and objective inquiry and thus cannot lead to truth or relevant knowledge.  Rather, most debates start from a position of “I am right and you are wrong.”  The antagonists goal being to show you or the audience how right and smart they are and how wrong and stupid you are.  Is there a point to such an exhibition?  I presume winning is the payoff and reward.  As Vince Lombardy once said:  “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”

If your objective is to understand something or if you want to find the truth, I suggest that you think more of discussing and less of debating with others.  A good discussion aims to find an understanding and comprehension of complexities that is often beyond our singular abilities to understand.  The truth can usually (but not always) be found between two extremes.  However, the process of truth seeking is more important than the process of truth finding.  The truth will inevitably change over time.  You will never have found a truth that will be good for all eternity.  There will always be a new truth to be found somewhere.  Thus, the process of truth seeking becomes a way of life that outfits the seeker for a journey through the cosmos that may take the seeker to the end of the universe and back to the beginning.

Well, if you finished my blog and you think I did not give a fair presentation on the evils of debate, then please listen to the song I noted above.  This song makes a case for the value of debate.  It does it in an Indian Rap song with great visual effects, music and choreography.  I am probably undoing my entire argument by including this song but Amen or so be it. 

(Listen to the Debate Song, it makes a great case for the value of debate)

Time for Questions:

Do you seek first to understand or first to be understood?  Do you debate others or discuss with others?  Are you more concerned with understanding or looking right?  How do you grasp complex issues?  How do you insure that you truly understand and are not being duped by charlatans trying to sell you simple answers to complex issues?

Life is just beginning.

“And finally, that Truth is great, and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them:”  — The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom written by Thomas Jefferson in 1777.

 

Happy Days Are Here Again?

happy-days-logo-1I like to think that my writing falls in the category of political and social satire.  I suppose I am giving myself more credit than I deserve since it is not easy to be a good satirist.  My spouse is always saying that my satire often misses the mark.  Nevertheless, I aspire that at least someday my writing can be compared to Mark Twain or perhaps Kurt Vonnegut.  I will have to leave it to my readers or at least posterity to find out if I ever achieve this lofty aspiration.  Who can judge the quality of their own writing without a large degree of prejudice?  (To hear the “Happy Days Are Here Again” song, click here.)

One element that seems typical of good satire (be it Mark Twain or Jon Stewart) is the ability to evoke humor in ones writings and ideas.  To make people laugh at the same time that you are getting them to see the absurdity of their viewpoints or society’s viewpoints.  You can have “dark” satire or “light” satire and in my opinion they form a continuum.  I think of Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut as falling on the darker side of this continuum and Mark Twain and Jon Stewart as falling on the lighter side.

pollyanna-glad-game-quote One of my goals is to keep a balance on my perspectives that helps me to fall more in the middle of this continuum.  I see being repeatedly on the light side as too comical or humorous.  I do not want to be thought of as a comic or entertainer.  I concede that these people can make a difference in the world as one of my early heroes was Lenny Bruce.  I think Lenny was a great comic and a great social satirist.  However, I do not see my nature as capable of embracing a very high degree of humor in some of the evil and stupidity I see in the world.  I have never been very Pollyannish.  I want to stay away from embracing a view of the world that resembles the “Happy Days” syndrome.  All is good, nothing is wrong, everything will be all right.  Just sit back and watch TV.  This attitude can lead to the pitfalls of complacency and neutrality.

6836-do-you-look-at-life-through-rose-coloured-glasses-i-crushedGetting repeatedly too close to the position of “dark” humor on this continuum also has its pitfalls. I think I have lost many friends along the path of life because I have sometimes become too critical and carping on the evils and stupidity of the world.  You start condemning evil and stupidity and before you know it, you are attacking people.  It is easy to start associating individuals with policies, ideas and positions that you loath.  Soon, you are surrounded by former friends who are all stupid and evil.  The final stage in this process is to see nothing but a world that is evil and stupid populated by evil stupid people.  Everyone in the world becomes your enemy.  The exact opposite of Pollyanna becomes your gestalt.

happiness in moderationI do not choose to follow either extreme.  I want to follow the Greek “Golden Mean.”  In ancient Greece the Golden Mean meant to pursue moderation in all things.  I don’t really want to hate all Republicans despite the fact that today I can see little good in the Republican Party.  Nor do I want to love all things associated with the Democratic Party.  In some ways, the Democrats have helped to create the Tea Party and Right-Wing extremists in the Republican Party. Though I doubt many Democrats would either see or confess to their culpability in this matter.  There has always been and there always will be excesses and vices in both parties.  Politicians of either stripe have more in common with each other than they do with the average middle class worker in this country or any country.

death of socrates bookI was really too honest a man to be a politician and live.” —  Socrates (Ancient Greek Philosopher, 470 BC-399 BC)

Things do not seem to have changed much in respect to politics since Socrates was executed for his anti-political beliefs.  Socrates openly expected the youth of Athens to challenge and question authority.  This stance was no more valued in ancient Greece then it is in 21st Century America.

Apocalypse revelationsThe title of my blog this week was meant to be somewhat humorous and somewhat satirical.  Hence the question mark on the end of the title is not an accident.  I know many people who think that the world has never been in a worse state.  One of my ex-friends kept reading Revelations to me and telling me that the world was going to end about a year or so ago.  Our friendship ended but the world did not.  I have other friends who say “Obama has ruined this country.”  Many Americans say that the USA is in decline and that the end days are near.  I don’t understand this negativity.  I understand that much of the world economy is coming out of a bad recession.  I truly see that the world has more problems than anyone can count on two hands.  We have poverty, war, famine, drought, global warming, disease, inequality, injustice, tyranny, evil of all sorts and a great deal of stupidity and ignorance.  Is there a silver lining in this maelstrom of disasters?

good_old_days_specials_magazineSome people believe that if we can only go back to the “good old days” that everything will be all right.  I don’t want to say too much about this option since I think it is a fantasy.  Only in the movies, can you go back in time.  Time marches forward and waits for no one.  Either get on the train or they will bury you where you stand.  We are not going to go back to pre-cellphone days, pre-internet days, pre-abortion days, pre-global warming days, pre-nuclear power days or pre-any other days.  We can only go forward.  We can embrace many of the old values that made our countries great but we must pay them forward.  We must embrace new values and blend the old and the new together in a modern version of the Golden Mean.  This is not an easy task.

I published a book about fifteen years ago that I called “The New Business Values for the 21st Century.”  The book did not become a best seller but it had several good chapters which IMHO have stood the test of time.  The basic idea for this book was based on a model that I called the “Five I Model.”  My mentor Dr. Gary N. McLean told me to always work from a model.  I tempered his advice with the advice of Dr. George Box that “All models are wrong but some are useful.”  My Five I’s included the following:

  1. Informationnew business values
  2. Improvement
  3. Innovation
  4. Inclusion
  5. Incentives

The premise of my book was that new organizations must revolve around these five key elements which I had elevated to the status of values.  I think these same five elements or values also pertain to building a great nation or great country.  I do not want to repeat what was in my book; you may still be able to find it on Amazon or E-Bay if you are interested.  However, one element that I think has significant relevance to this blog today is the 4th Value of Inclusion.

Inclusion is a value that embraces diversity and working together in a win-win fashion rather than working in opposition.  Inclusion abhors a culture or position of divisiveness such as we see in politics today.  In fact, many of the conflicts in the world today are caused by the divisiveness that is the enemy of inclusiveness.  Inclusion is a friend of immigration and not an enemy of immigration.  I have a T-shirt that reads “We need a fair immigration policy and not an anti-immigration policy.”  Too many of our politicians today are preaching a divisiveness that borders on hatred and bigotry.  I do not need to mention names here.  All you have to do is read the newspapers or listen to the TV to see the politicians that are preaching exclusion rather than inclusion.

We cannot go backwards into “happy days.”  We can only go forward.  To do so we must practice the old values that made our nations great alongside of the new values that have become critical to success in the new millennium.  My book addresses at least five of these new values.  Do doubt there are others.  I am not certain of what they are, but I am certain of what they are not.  They are not values that foster:

  • Exclusivity
  • Divisiveness
  • Inequality
  • Anti-intellectualism
  • Anti-immigration
  • Bigotry, racism, sexism or discrimination of any kind

There is a major US election coming up in the next fourteen months.  No doubt the news will be full of “trending” stories concerning the pros and cons of various candidates.  It will be easy for many of us to take sides.  He is a Democrat.  She is a Republican.  They are independents.  He belongs to the Tea Party.  She belongs to the Coffee Party.  Such identification can and will only lead to more divisiveness, more intolerance and a greater inability to understand the arguments that are often critical to a comprehensive solution that can result in a win-win.  There is an antidote to this problem.

I suggest we look at all of the candidates running for office and ask ourselves “Will they bring our country together?”  “How do they rank in terms of the new values?”  “How do they compare in terms of the negativity values in my list above?”   I offer that we need to care less about party affiliations and more about the values that we see our candidates espousing.  We are no longer a “New nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”  The USA is nearly 250 years old now.  We can remain true to the values of our founding fathers only by realizing that it is now the 21st century and that there are new values that must be added to the old values that made our nation great. This truth applies to every country in the world.  The path forward can be to a future that will be a happier world for all of us to live in.  As Jesus said:

“No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”  — Luke 9:62

Time for Questions:

What can we do to help create a better world for everyone, not just those in our country?  Which of the USA candidates for president do you think will most care about people?  Are you picking your candidate out of fear or distrust of the future?  What candidates will do the best to be inclusive, ethical and moral?  Are you supporting these candidates?  Why or why not?

Life is just beginning.

“Nothing brings me more happiness than trying to help the most vulnerable people in society. It is a goal and an essential part of my life – a kind of destiny. Whoever is in distress can call on me. I will come running wherever they are.”   — Princess Diana

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