Reality

Reading time – 4:46; Viewing time – 7:03  .  .  .

My pal John Calia comments now and again on these posts and he recently declared me to be a far left liberal. “Not so!” I protested, and proceeded to show him a bunch of my views on issues about which the vast majority of Americans agree. For example,

We want sensible gun safety legislation.

We want big money out of our politics.

The wealthy should pay their fair share – and it’s more than they’re paying now.

We oppose privatization of Social Security.

The Earth is warming at a dramatic pace and humans are a key driver of that. We need a climate moon shot if we’re to be able to live in what are now our coastal cities.

Russia is not our friend and we must take action to protect our democracy.

Stop lying to us about “trickle-down economics.” We’ve seen this movie over and over for 40 years and we know how it ends, and it’s not well for almost all of us. Instead of the same old stupid stuff, do something that actually helps the lower 99%, like,

Pass an infrastructure bill to rebuild America.

No more unnecessary wars – and stop the ones we’re in.

There is lots more, but my notions seem to coincide with middlin’ views, methinks. John challenged me to take the quiz on the Pew Research site, so I did. Lo and behold, they say I’m a Solid Liberal, along with 15% of the American public. That’s far left, not centrist. I could look for a second opinion, but that feels more like a desperate attempt to prove I’m right, rather than just accepting reality. My friend Ozzie sensibly instructs, “Reality always wins. Our job is to get in touch with it.” Inconvenient, perhaps, but he’s right.

Annoyingly, there is a lot about our current reality that plagues us and we better get in touch with it. You know about the reality of the Trump craziness that pits Americans against one another and focuses on outrage and petty victimization, while creating roadblocks to accomplishing anything to deal with our vexing problems.

At the same time, though, Trump enjoys huge support from ordinary Americans, irrespective of his terrible job performance rating (that’s down to 36.9%). That support leads to Congressional spinelessness, Senators McCain, Corker and Flake notwithstanding. Indeed, the legislators in Congress who live in scandalously gerrymandered districts keep getting reelected in spite of our disdain for Congress (now with just a 13% approval rating). They don’t fear a challenge from the other party, but are terrified at being primaried from the right by an angry extremist candidate. That’s because we’re living in the era of Extended Middle Finger America. Indeed, as Victor Davis Hanson wrote in the National Review, ”  .  .  .  Trump is a symptom of widespread disgust  .  .  . What created him was furor at a smug, entrenched Republican political establishment.”

Arguably, this anger at the establishment began long ago with the assassination of President Kennedy and the Warren Commission’s apparent whitewash of an investigation. It was abetted by the lies of Lyndon Johnson about the war in Vietnam and the lies and crimes of Richard Nixon and the resignation over corruption charges of his Vice-President. It surely was helped along by Bill Clinton’s – let’s call them dalliances.

Our anger was nurtured by Ronald Reagan, who told us that the 9 most feared words in America are, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” He told us that, “Government is the problem.” He repeatedly encouraged us to be angry at our government. Actually, we had some solid reasons to be angry.

When the I-35W bridge collapsed in Minneapolis we were delivered a very clear heads-up that we have infrastructure problems, yet precious little has been done in the intervening 10 years to protect the American people and ensure our solid presence in the world. In contrast, former third-world countries are modernizing at a ferocious pace, leaving us less competitive in this global economy. That’s a huge trust killer for us, just as our refusal to fix our education system and governmental infighting to prevent poor people from receiving good healthcare undercut our belief in our systems.

Gasoline was poured on the flames of anger at government by Newt Gingrich’s madness in rabidly attacking Bill Clinton on everything and shutting down the government; then George W. Bush and Dick Cheney lied us into two unnecessary wars. It was worsened by John Boehner telling us that it was all about “jobs, jobs, jobs” and yet opposing every attempt to create legislation that would encourage job growth. The furies were angered still further by a Republican Congress that was solely focused on ensuring that Obama had no wins, instead of looking out for the American people.

The worst thing, though, is the ongoing drumbeat of how awful our government is, including blatant lies by legislators and by polarized commentary by the likes of Breitbart, Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones. That has led to a very angry citizenry. And that has led to the election of a president who is incrementally tearing down the very things that make this country work. Somehow, his supporters, otherwise good, solid folks, are so angry that they are willing to ignore Trump’s awfuls. They have and continue to be prepared to elect representatives and senators who spew vitriol.

All of that is backward looking. What will we do about it?

I don’t have the answers, but I’m confident that what is called for is inspired and inspiring leadership in a new direction. We need a Lincoln to call upon our better angels. And we need insightful ideas that are offered in inspiring ways. Who will do that?

It’s self-defeating to live in, “.  .  . the sublime relief of deferred responsibility, the soft, violence of willful ignorance,” as phrased by Lindy West in a marvelous piece in the New York Times. Her reference was to the normalization of the hate of the alt-right, but the phrase works well for all of our current reality.

Back to my friend, Ozzie. The companion piece to “Reality always wins” is this:

If you want to know the future, create it.

What is the future reality you want? The time to start creating it is now.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we’re on a path to continually fail to make things better. It’s my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That’s the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

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Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
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7 Responses to Reality
  1. Douglas Binkley Reply

    Jack, extreme thanks for the ad promoting Refuse Fascism’s protest of November 4, and hopefully times thereafter.
    Wish I could send you a check, but George Soros is not returning my calls.
    I am proud to be among the enlightened 15%

    • Jack Altschuler Reply

      You’re most welcome, Doug. That promotion will appear in my next blogs, too. We wish we could join the courageous folks in Chicago on the 4th, but we have long standing plans that take us out of town. Worse, there isn’t a demonstration where we’ll be.

      One more point, as offered to my pal Calia in my reply to his comment below. You and I may be in the 15% of far lefties, but I stand by my claim that the vast majority of Americans agree with us on the issues I listed and I can point to polls that declare that to be true. Perhaps the American people aren’t center-right, as is often claimed. Perhaps the median is to the left of center. And perhaps we don’t want a dictator.

  2. John Calia Reply

    Jack, I didn’t need Pew Research to tell me you’re a lefty. And, neither do you. Just read this post. You’ve blamed every problem we have on Republicans. C’mon, Jack. You’re smarter than that, aren’t you?

    • Jack Altschuler Reply

      I prefer the word “responsibility”, John. And the Rs are responsible for “trickle-down”. A large portion of responsibility for the democracy-killing big money in politics goes to them because Citizens United was a far righty effort. The Rs want to privatize Social Security and make massive cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. They’re the climate warming deniers and the ones doing next to nothing about Russia hacking our election. They’re the ones blocking immigration reform, an infrastructure bill and more. They are the ones (some of them are) trying to make this a de jure Christian nation (e.g. prayer in school) and force their religion on everyone else. They are the ones who steadfastly opposed same-sex marriage, birth control and freedom of speech when it conflicted with their views. To be fair, we’re seeing that speech restriction business from self-defined liberals on college campuses now, so that sword cuts both ways.

      Again to be fair, the opposition to gun safety legislation is shared with Democrats, as is the responsibility for our never-ending wars. And there surely is shared responsibility for the expanding power of the President, as generations of senators and representatives of both parties have wused out and failed to stand up and be counted.

      I’m confident you can construct a list, the responsibility for which falls primarily on the Ds. Fair enough; regardless, the Rs have plenty to answer for and they are the current primary impediments to progress for all.

      As for whether I needed Pew Research to tell me I’m a lefty, I stand by my claim that the vast majority of ordinary Americans agree with me on the points I raised. Either I’m not a full-throated lefty or the American public isn’t as righty as some claim it to be. So, to answer your question, I guess I’m not smarter than that!

  3. Ursula Small Reply

    This current situation in America was inevitable and now that we are in it, it is incumbent upon us to take advantage of our distress and work together to course a new more hopeful path. I have found encouragement and inspiration in the hundreds of people who have emerged to take part in resistance and protest of the damage being done to the republic that we love and the constitution that directs the best experiment in democracy known to man. I am aging, but I intend to fight with everything I have left to protect and further the democracy that has given me the freedom to speak up, to stand up and defy the actions and attributes of the greedy criminals who would destroy us to fill their bursting coffers. People who band together have always won and we will win again.

  4. Joni Lindgren Reply

    I just took the 17 question test AFTER I responded and, yes, I’m a “solid Liberal” and still proud of it! I even have the nerve to say that with a smile on my face!

    As far as the drumbeat of how awful our government is…..well, if we didn’t have a government, we’d have all our services privatized……like water, heath care, trains, P.O., schools …..anything that people use a lot of…..then the CEOs of those services would charge a lot more for profits over us! No, thanks! I would trust the government more than I’d trust another guy like Trump and anyone in his administration! What a disaster that would be….the rich and corporations deciding what is best for us all, huh!

  5. Joni Lindgren Reply

    I was called a “liberal” recently by a Republican in a political class I attend and the guy meant it as a dirty word. I said, “Yes, I am, and I’m proud of it! I’m for people over a corporation’s profits and for bills that do something for the rest of society instead of every bill enriching the already rich. Without repeating, but every issue you mentioned above is what I ditto and there isn’t a bone in my body that would change it because I believe that anyone who votes repeatedly for those politicians who do nothing for the people they represent is uninformed”. So, go ahead and call me a Liberal because I’m proud of that title!!