The Secret Plan the Republicans Have to Help the Poor!

tax plan

The Republicans have a secret plan for eliminating poverty.  The basis of this plan is that if you eliminate the unfit you will not have any more poverty.  This strategy derives from theories first formulated in the middle of the nineteenth century.  These theories were subsequently labeled as “Social Darwinism.”  The online encyclopedia Britannica gives the following definition of Social Darwinism:

“Social Darwinism, the theory that human groups and races are subject to the same laws of natural selection as Charles Darwin had perceived in plants and animals in nature. According to the theory, which was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the weak were diminished and their cultures delimited while the strong grew in power and in cultural influence over the weak. Social Darwinists held that the life of humans in society was a struggle for existence ruled by “survival of the fittest,” a phrase proposed by the British philosopher and scientist Herbert Spencer.”

Social DarwinismThere have been many theories proposed for the policies held by Trump and his Republican supporters.  They include “Greed Theory.”  The Republicans are held to be greedier than most people and only want to accumulate as much money as they can.  Another is “Hate Theory.”  This theory holds that since most Republicans are White European in ancestry, they loath and detest any people who are different then they are.  This includes Asians, Blacks, Indians, Latinos and any immigrants not from Europe.

The final theory proposed is what I call “Fear Theory.”  This theory holds that the motivation behind Republican policies stem from their innate fear that everything they have will be taken away by those who are less privileged.  Thus, we find Republicans building big houses behind big walls and in gated communities protected by private security police.  In addition, with the help of their friends in the NRA, they stockpile vast array of weapons in case of home invasion or an all-out assault by the underclass of America.

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The above theories assume a very pejorative and negative rationale for the actions of Trump and his allies in Congress.  I have come to a different conclusion.   Why is my conclusion and theory important?  Most of all because it does not ascribe any negative motivations to the Republicans.  My theory assumes that current Republican theory is derived from a set of basic assumptions first formulated in the late 1800’s.  Thus, Republicans are not greedy or hateful or fearful as much as they are misguided and misinformed.  I came to realize this fact through the intersection of two quite different events.  Here is how it happened.

Four or five times per week, I go for a run.  Down here in Arizona, I have been running in the Casa Grande mountains.  I usually get up in the mountains about the time of sunrise.  My runs are over hilly, twisty, rocky, mountainous and desert terrain.  My only companions this early are the cacti and numerous birds that populate the desert.  Occasionally, I see a coyote, javelina or long eared jack rabbit but mostly it is peaceful and quiet.  As the sun rises over the mountains, the blue sky is colored with red and yellow hues that create a pastiche of colors which are simply breathtaking.  It is hard not to think that I am in heaven when I am running in the mountains in the morning.

mountains in morning

I was on such a run about two weeks ago when I was struck with an inspiration.  I suddenly realized that everything the Republicans have been doing is based on one simple idea.  They want to create a system whereby the “elite” have the benefits of their status as superior beings.  Thus, healthcare should be for the elite and the poor can go to the emergency ward because they will not be able to afford insurance.  More of the poor will die but that is consistent with Social Darwinism.

“Their disappearance from the human family would be no great loss to the world.”
― Henry Clay

Education will become an elite system.  The poor will go to inner city public schools deprived of money and resources where they will be treated more like prisoners than learners and security guards will make sure they behave.  The rich will go to well-funded private academies where they will learn to take high paying jobs as captains of industry.

Social Security will be replaced by an elite system of stocks and bonds whereby the rich can use financial advisers to double and triple their contributions.  The poor with little knowledge or skills in the stock market will lose what they have contributed and soon find they have no retirement money.  More prisons will be built (and ironically will be government funded) to protect the rich and lock up any dissidents who dare to complain or who become public nuisances.

“The forces which are working out the great scheme of perfect happiness, taking no account of incidental suffering, exterminate such sections of mankind as stand in their way, with the same sternness that they exterminate beasts of prey and herds of useless ruminants.”  ― Herbert Spencer,

As much as I liked the above scenario, since it seemed to provide a good fit for the current Trump and Republican policies, there was still something missing.  I could not quite put my hand on it, but it still cast the Republicans as “bad guys” with evil motives.  Why should the Republicans be any more evil than the Democrats?  My theory did not explain this.

helping-othersAbout a week later, I was substitute teaching in a Casa Grande High School.  I drew an eleventh-grade social studies class.  The teacher had left an assignment wherein the students had to find certain terms and concepts associated with the second industrial revolution and write definitions for each of them.  Included among such terms as: robber barons, corporations, patents and trusts was the term “Social Darwinism.”  One of the students asked me to explain it beyond the simple definition she found on line.  I tried to recall my ideas relating to this concept from many years ago.  I gave her my explanation and then later I looked up the definition at Wikipedia.  I was struck at how well my memory had served me.  It was at that point that the proverbial light bulb or blinding light of inspiration hit me.  I suddenly realized that the Republican Party was not just trying to create elite systems but they were also trying to build on the theories of Herbert Spencer.  The following excerpt explains this theory very well as it applies to many current concepts such as: trickle down theory, privatization, corporate welfare and tax reform.

“Social Darwinists took up the language of evolution to frame an understanding of the growing gulf between the rich and the poor as well as the many differences between cultures all over the world.  The explanation they arrived at was that businessmen and others who were economically and socially successful were so because they were biologically and socially “naturally” the fittest. Conversely, they reasoned that the poor were “naturally” weak and unfit and it would be an error to allow the weak of the species to continue to breed. They believed that the dictum “survival of the fittest” (a term coined not by Charles Darwin but by sociologist Herbert Spencer) meant that only the fittest should survive.”  – Social Darwinism in the Gilded Age

social darwinismSo, there you have it.  Trump and the Republican Party are not greedy, hateful or fearful of others, they simply do not believe that you have a right to anything unless you are also rich and successful and White like they are.  Based on the concepts of Social Darwinism, they have the right to whatever you have if they can find a way to take it away from you.  If you cannot keep it, that means you are inferior.  If you are inferior, you have no right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  According to Social Darwinism, the elite will eventually Trump the poor because they are stronger, smarter and more fit.  This will eventually result in a society wherein everyone is fit, and everyone is trying to screw everyone else.

“Truly, this earth is a trophy cup for the industrious man. And this rightly so, in the service of natural selection.  He who does not possess the force to secure his Lebensraum in this world, and, if necessary, to enlarge it, does not deserve to possess the necessities of life.  He must step aside and allow stronger peoples to pass him by.”
― Adolf Hitler

Today we have a Fake President, Fake News, Fake Christians and a divide in this country that rivals the divide that we had prior to the civil war.  We have a nation that has forgotten its roots and that has succumbed to the vilest theory to ever afflict humanity.

Time for Questions:

Do you think it would be better if the poor would just die and save us all the trouble of taking care of them?   What do you think we should do with the disabled and mentally challenged?  Should we start a eugenics program to get rid of them?  Who should help the poor, refugees, immigrants, hungry, sick?  What would Jesus do?

Life is just beginning.

“They said ‘specialist children’s wards,’
But they meant children-killing centers.
They said ‘final medical assistance’
But they meant murder.”  ― Ann Clare LeZotteT4

Republicanville USA — 2056 CE

freedom-is-slavery

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.”

obey-jesus-or-perish

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.

woman-vacuum-cleaning

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:

anti_public_education_propaganda_by_8manderz8-d5xz1cj

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.

immigration-reform

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 2

Last week, I started this blog about the degeneration of the Republican Party into a squabble of groups who do little justice to the values that made this country great.  I characterized these groups as follows:

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

These groups are relatively new to Republicanism and many of them albeit attracted to the messages of the Traditional Republicans actually have little understanding of the Traditional Republican values.   You may well ask:  “What attracted them to the Republican Party?”  I will attempt to answer this question.  I will also describe the above five groups in more detail.

There were forces both pushing and pulling these voters towards the Republican Party that started as far back as 1950.  The pulling forces included the attractive messages that they would hear from the Traditional Republicans.  “You too can be rich.”  “Trickle-down economics.”  “Say no to Big Government.”  “No new taxes.”  “Pro-Life.”  “Keep America safe.”  “We protect your rights.”  These messages were very compelling and attracted voters for a variety of reasons.  First of all, these messages built on the core Republican Values that I described in Part 1.  Second, they were taken to extremes by the new marketing techniques that infused politics in the latter half of the twentieth century.  Thus, the “Golden Mean” that I noted in Part 1 was sacrificed on the altar of marketing and political expediency to reflect messages that seemed “too good to be true and suspiciously unambiguous.”

Vote Republican and you too can live like the rich!

Pushing Forces:

The Pushing Forces include the following changes taking place in US society:

  • Demographic changes
  • Ethnographic changes
  • Economic changes
  • Religious changes

Each of these forces contributed in many ways to the movement of a large contingent of voters away from the Democratic Party and into the Republican Party.  We will take each one of these forces individually and see how it has contributed to the popularity of the Republican Party.

Demographic Changes include the aging of the USA population.  It is a well-known fact that as people get older they get more conservative.  The values of conservatism, safety, law enforcement, traditional roles for marriage, relationships and the role of women in society are all powerful forces that have propelled voters to the core value of Conservatism that is well established in the Republican Party.  Liberals (who fell in favor) were seen as wanting to change too many of the “normal” institutions in the USA.  Traditional Religious voters as well as older voters are generally inclined to support the status quo.  The problem  for many was:  “how do we hold onto a status quo that is changing right before our eyes?”

“The population is also expected to become much older.  By 2030, more than 20 percent of U.S. residents are projected to be aged 65 and over, compared with 13 percent in 2010 and 9.8 percent in 1970.”   —  Census.gov

Ethnographic Changes in the USA population include the influx of many groups into the country who hold values that are seen as “foreign” to traditional USA values.  It is one thing for new groups who are Christian to enter the country, but over the past fifty years or so, we have had a much more diverse array of ethnic groups from countries where Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism are the dominant religions.  Many of these religions are poorly understood in the US and the practitioners are sometimes seen as promoting anti-US values.  One example is the fear that many people in this country have for Sharia Law and the belief that Muslims want to overthrow the US Justice System and replace it with Sharia Law.

Partly responsible for a growing intolerance in the USA has been the fact that projections show that “White” people will become a minority in the USA in thirty years.  This gradual erosion of the White majority means that White people must accept a more diverse society in which White morals and values will be one among several other sets of morality and not always the dominant one.  This is hard for many people to take as Whites have always been in the power seat in this country.

“The nation’s demographics are on a clear trajectory: White people are dying faster than they are being born, which means they are on target to become a minority in the United States in 30 years.”  —  Whites projected to become a US minority

Economic Changes in the US economy started to noticeably impact the standard of living for many voters following WW II.  At first it was imperceptible.  There had always been changes in the economy with ups and downs, recessions and the Great Depression following WW I.  However, after WW II, we had a respite from anything that could be called “Global Economics.”  With the demise of Germany and Japan and the economic hardships facing Great Britain, France and several other European countries, we had the economic ball field to ourselves.  The USA economic boom was reflected in a period of rising incomes and relative prosperity.

1280px-US_productivity_and_real_wagesThe attached chart shows that while USA productivity has continued to increase since 1945, real earnings have been either static or on the decline since the mid nineteen seventies.  Whereas, we once had the playing field to ourselves, by the early 70’s the competition from other countries, particularly Japan, was beginning to erode the economic advantage we once had.  By the late 80’s, wages in the USA were being impacted by the growth of industry in countries where wage rates were much lower.  Foreign competition and increased levels of quality goods from other countries helped to erode the market dominance of traditional USA companies.

These economic changes have fallen particularly hard on voters in the USA who worked in what might be called “transitional” industries.  Agriculture transitioned to manufacturing during the mid-twentieth century.  Manufacturing transitioned to service beginning in the seventies.  Finally, service jobs have become increasingly high tech requiring computer skills and often advanced education and training.  People in the “Blue Collar” industries cannot be trained fast enough to fill the jobs needed in the new industries.

The recession in 2008 saw a loss of nearly 9,000, 000 jobs in the USA.  Economists like to refer to these job losses as “creative destruction” or as an “economic correction.”  The problem is that if you are the worker who does not have the skills to transition to a new job and you have a family to support, terms such as “Correction” do not help you to feed your family.

displaced-workers-3Recent statistics show that most of the jobs lost in the “Great Recession” have been regained. However, many of these new jobs are in lower paying industries or have gone to new workers with new skills in the labor force.  The number of underemployed or unemployed people in the USA remains high and a source of major discontent.  Our US system of reeducating workers is poor and in need of major overall.

The Republican Party and its messages have attracted many of these economically struggling voters to their party.  The Republican values of hard work, individual responsibility and economic self-sufficiency resonate well with a group bitter over their economic hardships and who view too many others as getting a free ride.

Religious Changes may just be the single most powerful force pushing many voters and citizens into the Republican Party.  Since 1900, the country has become increasingly secular and to some extent even non-religious.  The following comment is from “Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore:”

“According to the Hartford Institute of Religion Research, more than 40 percent of Americans “say” they go to church weekly.  As it turns out, however, less than 20 percent are actually in church.  In other words, more than 80 percent of Americans are finding more fulfilling things to do on weekends.”

Many of the more conservative religions and branches of religions that may have splintered off from their mainstream congregations have migrated towards the Republican Party.  Again, the conservative family oriented values of the Republican Party have attracted many religious fundamentalists who oppose gay marriage, women clergy, abortion and creating a pluralistic culture where non-Christian religions are free to worship and practice their faiths.  These religious fundamentalists see the secular changes coming to our country as evil and anti-scripture.  They have organized many groups in efforts to resist these changes.  This is from the mission statement of one of these groups:

“The Christian Coalition is committed to representing the pro-family agenda and educating Americans on the critical issues facing our society. Whether it is the fight to end Partial Birth Abortion or efforts to improve education or lower the family’s tax burden, the Christian Coalition stands ready and able to work for you.”

Pulling Forces:

The Pulling Forces are the messages that voters hear from the Republican Party and which reflect its traditional core values.  However, as they play out in the media, these messages are largely nuances and alterations of the traditional core Republican values.  The messages have now gone through a process of “Madison avenue marketing” to make them more alluring and seductive to their intended audience.  It should come as no surprise that various voters are attracted to various messages.  Some of course may be attracted to all of the Republican messages.  Let us now look at each of the individual voting groups that I labeled above to see how the Pulling Forces (Traditional Republican Values) and the resulting messages have attracted each group.

Uneducated White Male Voters:

stupid republicanThis group is largely but not exclusively White Male and under educated.  They are generally blue collar workers and many of them had their jobs displaced by the rise of Global Economics with offshoring and outsourcing of their work.  New technologies and robotics have also taken many of the jobs that these group once did.  They have been attracted by several Republican messages.  From gun control to the value of free enterprise, these low educated voters have bought into the idea that a Liberal Government is out to take their rights away and make it harder for them to earn a living.  Many of them can rightfully blame the government (both Republicans and Democrats) for using their jobs to stoke the fires of Globalization.

This group is attracted to the rhetoric common among Republicans for restraints on immigration and decreased government regulations.  This group believes that if the USA government was not so big they would be much better off. They blame liberals for the laws promoting a Global economy and do not understand that education can help them.  They often are willing to vote against any kind of education bill.  Many of them were marginal students who were ill served by the education establishment in the past.  They are no supporters of teachers, universities or increased funding for education.   The Republican messages have amplified this anti-education theme to the point that Republicans are now deemed anti-science and anti-education and anti-immigration.  It is also very easy for this group to buy into the myth that immigrants have stolen their jobs.  They are lured by the type of messages that Trump has sent out castigating immigrants and particularly Muslims and Mexicans.

Bigoted Voters:

ignoranceThis group is not only uninformed but they are also misinformed.  They have already made up their minds on the basis of limited and misleading information.  They are biased, prejudiced and xenophobic.  The Republicans have had a bag of dirty tricks which probably grew out of Nixon’s escapades in the 70’s and have continued through such political shenanigans as the Swift Boat attacks against John Kerry, the manipulations in Florida with the voting ballots and the Karl Rove fiasco in Ohio.  This group is ready prey for the type of propaganda tricks that the Republican Party now use to lie, distort the truth and defame their opponents.

The Republicans seem to have thrown away any concept of ethics or morality when it comes to political elections.  A squadron of Republican Talk show hosts from Mike Savage to Ann Coulter keep spewing out lies, misinformation, innuendos and calumnies against opponents whom they have no qualms about personally attacking.  I would guess that many if not most of the “urban myths” that often dot the Internet have their genesis in some Republican think tank.

Some other recent examples include the “Birther” movement in which President Obama was alleged to have been born in another country and the messages sent out decrying his support of Islamic terrorists because Obama himself is alleged to be a Muslim.  Those Ignorant Voters who subscribe to these lies and innuendos come to believe so strongly in them that there is no changing their minds.

Greedy Voters:

greedy republicansThe USA has become increasingly materialistic.  Evidence of this can be seen in new traditions like Black Friday, Designer Lifestyles, Reality Shows and the narcissistic values that seem to be replacing traditional moral and ethical values in the USA.  A large contingent of students today are not concerned about how their chosen careers will help their country.  They are more concerned with how much money they can make when they graduate.  Greed has been on the increase in this country for many years now.  Republicans (always the party of the rich) were well positioned to capitalize on a bloc of voters who do not want to share their wealth.  Oaths for no new taxes.  Oaths to roll back taxes.  Oaths to block reforms in Welfare and oaths to block the creation of a more equitable health care system for citizens have become ubiquitous in the Republican Party.

“We were fed this lie that hard work and dedication will payoff.  That’s not true.  There are millions of Americans who bust their asses working tons of overtime or two or more jobs just to get by – just to survive.”  — Trickle-Down Economics, Greed and the Republican Party are Destroying American Values

Fearful Voters:

gated community with watch signA large number of US citizens today are afraid.  They are afraid of crime.  They are afraid of immigrants.  They are afraid of minorities and they are basically afraid of change.  The Republican messages have helped to drive this fear even further into the psyche of people in this country.  Everywhere you go today there are gated communities, security systems, concealed carry permits and people afraid to leave the perceived safety of their feudal like communities.

Part of this fear has come from the aging of the population.  As people get older, they get more concerned for safety and security.  Part of the fear has come from constantly reading about “crime in the streets.”  The news over reports and over emphasizes instances of crime and violence on a 24/7 daily basis.  Finally, a large part of this fear comes from constantly hearing messages about the imminent attack of terrorists and others who are supposedly jealous of our lifestyle and want to destroy our country.

“In a Pew Research Center poll conducted in September, 75 percent of registered voters surveyed said that “terrorism” was “very important” for their vote in the congressional elections. Also last month, a CBS News/New York Times poll found that 57 percent of Americans surveyed thought Obama has been too soft on ISIL.”  — Republican ISIL fearmongering amplifies extremists’ message, experts say.

Religious Fundamentalist Voters:

911 Never Forget the Dangers of Religous ExtremismpsdThese religious extremists are attracted to the family and religious values messages constantly being sent by the Republican Party.  Anti-gay, pro-family, pro-god in the schools, anti-abortion, anti-women’s liberation messages are a theme of most Republican politicians today.  The dramatic changes facing religion in the USA since 1900 has seen a decline in the traditional role of church and pulpit in family life.  The increased number of working women, gay couples, divorces and abortions have fueled a desire on many conservatives to return to what they saw as the “good old days.”  This actually means the good old days for white middle or white upper class heterosexual males.  Not so good for women, minorities, disabled and poor people.

This group of voters believes less in a strict separation between church and state than that which was proscribed by our Founding Fathers.  They would put GOD back in the schools and in some cases declare the USA a “Christian Nation.”  There are many of these voters who have little or no tolerance for anyone outside their own religions.  These so called Christians are characterized by a strong proclivity to support capital punishment, war as a first resort for political persuasion and the Ten Commandments as a foundation for a morality for all citizens.  They seldom think of peace or diplomacy as a means of resolving disputes between nations.  They do not see the hypocrisy between their contradictory messages of pro-life and pro-capital punishment.   Furthermore, they are generally extremely literal and particularly narrow in their selection of Bible verses to support.

See the following short video for further evidence of what I mean.

Martin Sheen Burns a Hypo-Christian

Whither Goes the Republican Party?

trump-building-a-wallWhere should the Republican Party go?  A party that has endorsed the immoral in its political campaigning.  A party that fosters fear and war mongering.  A party that is against immigrants.  A party that is intolerant towards minorities.  A party that minimizes the role of women in society.  A party that discriminates against gay people.  A party that will not treat disabled people as respectable members of society.  A party that does not believe in the value of science or education.   A party that fosters a contradictory and out of date set of moral codes (The Ten Commandments) as a foundation for our nation’s morality (My spouse disagrees with me on this, but there is ample evidence of the hypocrisy inherent in the Ten Commandments. Who observes the Sabbath and foregoes work on Sundays?).  A party that has no compassion for the poor and underprivileged who may not have the ability to “pick themselves up by their bootstraps.”

Time for Questions: 

Where should the Republican Party Go?  You tell me please.

Life is just beginning.

“But my revulsion at the Republicans doesn’t begin and end with Iraq and Benghazi. It’s spread to many other issues over the years. Frankly, the GOP increasingly looks like a party in the grip of some form of hyper-partisan madness that takes self-destructive delight in alienating everyone who isn’t a far-right ideologue. What else can explain the up-is-down, black-is-white, counterintuitive perversity of the stances Republicans increasingly take in response to national news and trends?”  — I’m not a Democrat. I’m an anti-Republican.

Consider:

 

 

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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