Conservatism

Conservatism Today

Conservatism can be defined in many ways, although dictionary definitions typically use the word itself as a descriptor: We should conserve the values and ideas of the past.  Surely, there is some good sense in that.

Another definition, the attribution to which I have not found, defines today’s conservatism this way: Conservatism has become the search for a superior moral justification for self-interest.  That certainly fits well with Paul Ryan’s budget, which calls for $1.1 trillion of tax cuts for wealthy and super-wealthy people.  That’s a lot of self-interest.

Conservatism has evolved from traditional bedrock values to something hateful and uncaring.  It is an expression of the vitriol that permeates society today, the pervasive view that if someone disagrees they must be some form of low life and perhaps unpatriotic.  The focus of today’s conservatism is fiscal, along with a testosterone fueled national defense and war making capability.  That’s it.

Today’s conservatives seem to have strange ideas about why they lost the last presidential election, lost seats in the House and lost the congressional popular vote count.  They don’t think it was because their ideas were unpopular, nor because they were disrespecting of huge segments of the American public and not because they lied and got caught.  They think it was because they didn’t couch their message in the right terms.  They just don’t get it.

People don’t want what they are selling.  It really is that simple.  Their trying to win upcoming elections by “enlarging the tent” to include people of color makes no sense, because once those recruited are in the tent the conservatives are going to metaphorically club them over the head and steal their wallets.  Here’s an example.

As mentioned, Ryan’s new budget proposes $1.1 trillion in tax savings for the wealthy, revenue that would be lost to the federal government.  What is interesting is that when Ryan is questioned about the cost to the government of his gift to the wealthy he declares that it will be paid for through some undefined magical process, perhaps a deus ex machina contraption from days gone by.  That’s what Reagan sold to the American people as “supply side economics” 33 years ago and which was described by President Bush the First as “voodoo economics.”  Bush was right.  It was voodoo then and it is voodoo now.  There is no deus ex machina that could restore that loss of revenue and save us from our self-inflicted national impoverishment.

All that would be accomplished would be to make fabulously wealthy people even wealthier and cut funds for critical national needs.  That is exactly what Ryan proposed and which was overwhelmingly rejected by Americans in the last election.  Regardless, Ryan plods on with his same tired ideas, now in a nifty new green wrapper.  His sleight of hand, though, hides his mean ideas, that taxes and costs will inevitably go up for all but the rich, including the newbies in that conservative tent.  That’s the wallet theft.

Meanwhile, there are other provisions to Ryan’s budget.  Everyone agrees that at some point Medicare will become too expensive.  Ryan’s plan to deal with that is to give each senior a voucher to go to the private healthcare insurance market and buy their own medical insurance policy.

  • Never mind that seniors are, by definition, older and therefore a poorer risk for those insurance companies who may not offer them coverage at all.
  • Never mind that many of our seniors will have pre-existing conditions that insurance companies will refuse to cover.
  • Never mind that those vouchers couldn’t possibly cover the cost of a medical insurance policy and will necessarily mean that seniors will have to take a lot of money out of their piggy banks to pay for their policies.  That assumes that they have enough in those piggy banks both to pay for their policies and also to eat.

Ryan offers absolutely no detail about how his proposal that would kill Medicare is not a proposal to kill Medicare.  Apparently, we should just trust him.  How well did that trust process work for us when President Bush started the war in Iraq on disinformation?

This third iteration of Ryan’s budget proposal is just another effort to kill social programs that so-called conservatives have been trying to kill for decades.  Doing that and making wealthy people even wealthier while leaving everyone else to scramble for crumbs is today’s conservatism.  There is nothing remotely conservative in the historical sense of the word in Paul Ryan’s budget thumping or in the hearts of today’s self-interested conservatives.

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

I Hope The President Fails

That’s what he said in mid-November, 2008.  A colleague was expressing his fondest hope for the newly elected president.  What is most significant about this is that he didn’t say that he disliked the president’s policies or that he fervently wished that they would not become law.  He did not hope for a resolute senate that would moderate President Obama’s initiatives.  He stated clearly that he hoped that the president would fail.

I put my best effort into making sense of that, of seeing his comments in a constructive light.  I imagined that this colleague was simply saying that he preferred a conservative world, so he didn’t want to see progressive/liberal ideas become successful.  That thinking refused to last, though, as the full depth of this guy’s meaning sunk in.  He really wanted a failed president and presidency.

His is the point at which present day conservatism departs from traditional conservatism, and from patriotism, as well as from any semblance of good sense.  How could a true conservative want to see our institutions fail?  How could a true patriot want his president to fail?  And where in the world did good sense go in wishing for America to fail?

Weirdly, the Republicans hate President Obama more than they love America.  They killed the jobs bill, they took the country over the fiscal cliff, they threatened national default, they dragged feet on providing disaster relief from Hurricane Sandy – the list goes on and on and all of the crazy stuff that was designed to make the president fail instead hurt the economy, veterans, job seekers, homeowners, workers, the elderly and even the world economy.

Don’t bother trying to find refuge in this “hoping that the president fails” business by seeing it as solely that of my former colleague or just within the R’s in congress or the far right talking heads.  A recent poll showed that 40% of Republicans want the president to fail.  Clearly, a lot of them don’t care who else gets hurt by their destructive attitude, as they pursue their agenda of hate.

The real problem is that they don’t just hate the president’s policies.  In fact, the R’s themselves introduced and supported many of those same policies that would have helped Americans, right up to the moment when President Obama agreed with them.  Then they beat a retreat and shifted into name-calling and derision.  It wasn’t about policy at all:  It was about hating and wanting to defeat President Obama.  For the R’s, that overrode everything else.

Some say that’s race-based, and surely some of the obstruction answers that description.  The R’s did the same kinds of things, though, to Bill Clinton.  Remember that Speaker Newt Gingrich shut down the government while trying to neuter Clinton.  They launched investigations into everything that happened during the Clinton Administration, effectively tying up much of the executive branch resources and the president’s attention.

That’s the single strategy in the Republican playbook: oppose anything a Democratic president supports, national consequences be damned.  Our country is tied up in knots by people who don’t care how badly the rest of us suffer, by politicians and pundits who have lost their focus on a better America and instead are focused on destruction.

There was precious little many of us found to support during the eight years of the presidency of George W. Bush, but I never heard anyone hope for his failure.  You might want to mention that the next time you hear someone voice a belief in the equivalency of the political parties in their craziness.  That 40% of Republicans who want the president to fail are clear about what they hate.  Try asking them what in America they love and support.  See if they can get past their vitriol.  I bet they can’t.

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Fundamentalism

Staying informed requires that we do more than exchange views with the smart people – you know, the people who agree with you.  Indeed, much more important is that we listen to the people who do not agree with us and hear what they have to say – actually seek to understand.  Often that is less comfortable than being validated by those aforementioned smart people who agree with us, but we have to listen to all views if we are to learn anything.

And so it was with great pain that I watched a piece on Fox News with Suzanne Venker telling me that boys and girls are different and that women are either less than men or should act that way, so, honey, get back in the kitchen.  Okay, she didn’t say the kitchen part.  She does, however, seem to subscribe to the same attitude modeled by Gov. Huckabee (included in her interview video) of women as “other” creatures and needing the protection of men.  It’s a “ women as less-than,” paternalistic worldview.

This seems to be yet another piece of retro thinking, the kind of simplistic, anachronistic attitude that has brought us self-justified science deniers, religious extremists, fiscal rejectionists and white supremacists.  Come to think of it, that kind of fundamentalist polarization is reminiscent of Islamic fundamentalists.  You know, the guys who strap bombs to their kids and send them into restaurants to blow themselves up, all in the comfort of religious justification; the people who learn to fly an airplane but not to land it, so they can suicidally/homicidally fly it into a tall office building and kill lots of people to promote their notion of justice; the butchers who mutilate and kill their own people in the name of Allah.

Wait – Americans are like Muslim fundamentalists?  Well, how would you characterize us when President Obama receives over 30 death threats per day – from Americans?

The head scratcher for me is not that we Americans are impassioned or that we disagree with one another.  From the time of the Articles of Confederation we’ve always had disagreements and will continue to do so.  A case can be made that we are better for our disagreeing.  What is curious is how we came to the point where we just shout at one another and don’t listen at all.  We have made this a country of self-righteous, “my way or the highway” attitudes.

Us-Them is now the flesh searing brand on the American brain.  If that is to change for the better, we have to figure out how we became this dysfunctional.  Exactly when did fear and hate take over as the official attitude of American culture?

Recently, I attended a talk by Jim Kenney, co-founder of Common Ground, and I asked him what he thought was behind our fundamentalist, absolutist fervor.  He’s a well-educated, well-informed guy and he answered without hesitation that the primary cause is The Big Lie.

That’s “Big Lie” as in Josef Goebbels-type propaganda.  It’s about a program of disinformation, telling the lie over and over until people believe what you want them to believe, like calling our president a Muslim or a Kenyan, like dividing Americans into creators and takers, like saying that people of color are not like “us” and, the ultimate, that those who don’t believe in God exactly as you do are doomed: there is neither god nor heaven for them.  There are millions of people persuaded by such messages and they eventually carry them and justify their resulting hatred with their fundamentalist fervor.  They think they are bedrock right.

Presidents Nixon and Bush II both promoted an us-them attitude by overtly saying that you’re either with us (meaning their administrations) or you’re against us.  Bush told us that you either supported the Patriot Act as originally written, including the illegal wiretapping, illegal search and seizure, perpetual detention without charges or trial (the end of habeas corpus) and illegal CIA investigations of Americans in America, or you were unpatriotic.

You can hear Big Lies any time, as they are pounded through the airwaves and online in a nonstop parade of vilification, fear and hatred.  The repetition somehow creates an altered perceived reality for many and the divisiveness is expanded.  Daniel Gardner’s book The Science of Fear will help you to understand just how easy it is to manipulate people.

Those manipulated by The Big Lie think they are adhering to fundamental truth, but maybe they’re just terrorists, like the thirty nut jobs who threaten the life of our president every day.  We can’t let them win, because if they do, America loses.

The way out of this national polarization is not through hitting back with frenzied counter-hatred.  It is through seeing those with whom we disagree as opponents, not as enemies and it surely doesn’t mean seeing them as less than.

So, the next time you hear someone saying things you passionately disagree with, observe where you go with your reaction.  Are you having an amygdala moment of fear response?  Do you instantly judge and dismiss the other person in some way, labeling them with disparaging adjectives and nouns?

Not much will get a lot better until we stop vilifying one another and start listening to someone other than the Big Liars.

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Conservatives, Have You Reached Your Popeye Point?

Immediately after President Obama won the 2008 presidential election Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, Republican leaders in the Senate and House, announced to the world, “Our number one priority is making sure that President Obama is a one-term president.”  That came as quite a surprise to those of us who thought that their number one priority was to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, that they were in Washington to promote the general welfare and the other things outlined in the Preamble to the Constitution.  Not so, as we continue to be reminded.

The Republican Party has devolved into nothing more than opposing anything offered by Democrats and the President.  They have even opposed their own bills, once President Obama said he supported them.  They continue to oppose the mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act, even though it is exactly what the Republicans proposed in the ‘90’s, then accompanied by their battle cry of personal responsibility.

Since the 2010 mid-term election the Republicans have been telling us that what is most important is “jobs, jobs, jobs.”  Since that time, though, the House, led by John Boehner, has passed bills against gay marriage and women’s healthcare.  They have voted against immigration reform and have had temper tantrums against ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  None of that has anything to do with promoting jobs for Americans.  The only job related legislation the Republicans passed was one promoting jobs for our military veterans, and they had to be shamed into passing it.

Two things are clear.  First, the Republicans don’t want President Obama to have any wins, so they oppose anything he supports.  Second, the Republicans want to run in 2012 against President Obama’s record on the economy and jobs, so they stonewall any effort to make things better for Americans, completely ignoring the suffering of the people in their selfish quest for power.

They have opposed keeping our promises to creditors in hopes of blaming President Obama for a global humiliation of their own making.  They have repeatedly called the president a liar, most recently by flagrant fact falsifier Sarah Palin.  Oddly, they offer absolutely no proof of prevarication.

They call him “Mr. Obama,” instead of using the proper title, “President.”  They accuse him of being an un-American Kenyan, a socialist, a Marxist, a fascist.  In short, they have reduced themselves to being pitiful name-calling schoolyard bullies throwing taunts.

Republicans, is that all you have?  Tell us you have something more than that, because if that’s all you have, you have nothing.

There is nothing conservative about the party of personal responsibility abdicating its responsibilities.  There is nothing conservative about ignoring the suffering of the American people.  There is nothing conservative about preventing Americans from voting.  There is nothing conservative about going to war and refusing to pay for it and lying to Americans about nonexistent death panels.  In short, there is nothing conservative about today’s Republican party.  Conservatism is dead.  Radical dishonesty has taken its place.

The old Popeye cartoons had a recurring theme.  Popeye would get into terrible trouble, pummeled and nearly helpless, when suddenly he would declare, “That’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more!”  A can of spinach would magically appear, he would eat the contents and be revived and then go about righting the wrongs.

The question now is whether you have reached your Popeye point.  Have you had enough of the lies, the abdication of responsibility, the demeaning of the highest office in our land?  Have you had enough of being manipulated?  Is this all you can stands and you can’t stands no more?

Get your can of spinach right now.  It’s time for you to start righting the wrongs and reclaim your party.

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

For Righties

You say you’re a strict constitutionalist and you believe deeply in the principles of that marvelous document.  Let’s have a look at that

Of course, you’re a firm believer in freedom of speech.  Yet, did you howl in protest when the Republican Party set up “free speech zones” far away from their 2008 convention in Minneapolis and prevented any display of dissent that might become visible to convention attendees or television cameras?  How about when Mayor Rahm Emanuel attempted to stifle protests around the then-upcoming NATO and G-20 conferences this year with his “Sit Down and Shut Up” law?  I thought all of America was a free speech zone and so did you.  “Free speech zones,” indeed

Of course you believe in freedom of religion as outlined in the Bill of Rights, but do you tolerate those who insist that America must be governed according to their interpretation of the Christian Bible?  That religious turf grabbing has the practical effect of establishing a national religion and marginalizing anyone who is not a Christian in their mold.  And did you hit the Send button to communicate with your representatives in Congress about your disgust with the anti-Muslim hatred that now is masquerading as patriotism?  Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion or from any particular religion.

The second amendment was crafted to ensure that immediately following our revolutionary days civilians could quickly be conscripted into an army in case the British invaded again.  The second amendment wasn’t and isn’t about the right to own an unlimited stockpile of weapons of war.  Since you probably don’t think the British are going to invade any time soon, why exactly do you think you’re guaranteed the right to own those assault weapons?  Charleton Heston’s “cold dead hands,” testosterone-filled declaration may give you a dark side thrill of self-righteousness and cause your blood to boil, but your weapons cache is far more likely to make some innocent person’s blood spill.

If you’re a strict constitutionalist, are you taking action to stop Republican state legislatures from stealing the right to vote from millions of our fellow Americans?  You should be in the front lines fighting that unconstitutional threat to our democracy.

The framers of the Constitution had a well-founded and deep seated distrust of excess power in a few hands.  So, as a strict constitutionalist, you must be outraged over fabulously wealthy people stealing our elections from you and our fellow Americans.  What action are you taking to counter that theft of democracy?

If you’re a strong supporter of our military, you probably thank soldiers for their service and perhaps you attend parades in their honor.  But did you scream at George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld when they sent our soldiers into battle without personnel and vehicle armor, leaving them vulnerable to being blown to bits or left with debilitating brain injuries from roadside bombs?  Are you sending checks to the VA so that we provide the after-action medical help our injured military people need, rather than making them wait a year for medical help?

Surely, you’re marching in protest against the war in Afghanistan, where most of our military deaths are due to bullets fired by the very Afghan security forces our soldiers are training.  Part of “provide for the common defense” – that’s from the Preamble to the Constitution – means protecting our military people from pointless conflicts that produce little more than dead soldiers.

The Constitution that you hold as sacred is just as sacred to the rest of us, so here’s my proposition for you:  Take a break from waving flags and slinging epithets and start taking action to protect the Constitution.   It is long past time that we stop the outrageous screeching that serves only to make us feel powerful for a moment and instead start honoring our duties as Americans.  That’s where the real power of the Constitution lies.

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The Common Wisdom

We all know that the country is center-right.  Perhaps it’s there as a result of a pendulum swing from the socially farther left pendulum of the 60’s and the politicians and pundits now like to tell us we’re center-right almost as throw-away line.  Or maybe people just keep saying that and have done so for such a long time that we’ve come to believe it, but repetition doesn’t make the claim accurate.  Take a look at just a few issues before us.

Jobs – About 306 million of we 307 million Americans want the government to take energetic action to ramp up the economy and create jobs.  The noise from the far right is the only thing that is making it seem like there is huge opposition to that.  As a nation, we are left of center now on jobs.

Voting rights – Americans believe overwhelmingly that all of us over the age of 18, with the possible exception of convicted felons, should vote.  That’s pretty much smack dab in the center, not center-right.  On the other hand, there are Republican strategists who have openly stated that the only people they want to vote are those who will vote Republican.

In the 2010 election many states voted far right legislators into office and they have enacted laws they have fraudulently proclaimed are to protect us from a blight of voting fraud.  The thing is that voting fraud almost never happens – not even in Chicago.  These laws serve solely as an obstacle to voting for young people, the elderly, the poor and those in minorities who tend to vote overwhelmingly Democratic.  Let’s see, righty R’s preventing D’s from voting.  Hmmm.

Immigration – Most of us believe that if people do something wrong that they should bear the consequences.  And most of us believe that children of illegal immigrants, born in this country and who have broken no laws should not bear those consequences.  Righties don’t want to pass the Dream Act and they are completely out of step with the majority of Americans.  The R’s continue to oppose it because they’re afraid they’ll get “primaried” in the next election by a fanatic on the lunatic right fringe.  That keeps them disconnected from everyone but the aforementioned lunatic right fringe.

This issue is complex, but as a nation we’re pretty much in the center.

Taxes on the wealthy – Depending on the week and the poll, anywhere between 62 – 80% of Americans favor increased taxes on the rich.  Only the righties who signed Grover Norquist’s pledge to never raise taxes, along with some already wealthy people are opposed to that.  That is to say, the country is center-left on this issue.

Contraception – Do you really need an explanation about this?  Even 98% of Catholic women have used some form of birth control and only some fundamentalist righties have a problem with it.  It’s just that a few of them have very loud voices.  We Americans are far left in favor of contraception.

Women’s choice – The majority of Americans continue to be pro-choice, although by a smaller margin now than in past decades.  In part that’s because of the loss of institutional memory of how things used to be before Roe v. Wade.  It wasn’t pretty.  We are center-left on this.

Global warming – It’s not just all the environmental scientists; most Americans believe that the Earth is getting warmer and that mankind’s activities like burning fossil fuels is contributing to it.  The only question is why anyone denies that.  To find the answer, follow the money.  It’s way on the right.  (Ref: “And another thing” below)

Social Security & Medicare – These are the two most popular programs ever created by the federal government and America is far left on them.  Only the righties want to abolish or privatize them.

Note to budget hawk absolutist righties: We made a contract with the American people, who pre-paid for these services and we must keep our word.  I know you’ll understand that.

Education – The righties want to abolish the Department of Education at both the federal and state levels.  They are starving schools of funds, so teachers, administrators and janitors are being laid off.  School maintenance and improvement projects are being halted and the disparity between the education of our poor children and the rich kids who get to go to elite schools continues to widen.  Our children are suffering, their future becomes bleaker every day we fail them and we are putting the future of America in peril.

Americans don’t like this.  They want their children to be educated and think public education is a very good thing.  The righties are completely out of sync with America on this.  This country is way left on education.

Healthcare – Most Americans want the government to do more to fix it.  All that is standing in the way is the resistance borne of the hundreds of billions of dollars being collected every year by the medical insurance companies, big pharma, big hospitals and a few others.  We’ve tried letting the market fix this.  That has resulted in our having the most expensive healthcare in the world, while at the same time we’re getting just middling results.  Only the far righties with megaphones attached to their faces think that continuing to let the free market work is the solution.  We want affordable healthcare and are at least center-left on this issue.

The list can go on until sunrise.  Those saying that we are a center-right nation have either bought into the Big Lie or think they will benefit by making you believe it.

It turns out that the common wisdom isn’t so common, nor is it so very wise after all.

—————————————————————————–

And another thing .  .  .

Have you seen the TV commercials with the pleasant looking blonde lady in a black pants suit talking about American energy?  She tells us how plentiful it is and all we have to do is go get it.  As an example, she walks across a map of the lower 48 and tells us about, ”  .  .  . tapping Canadian oil sands for U.S. consumers.”  Sounds great.

Except the plan for the Canadian oil sands crude is to transport that heaviest, dirtiest crude oil with the greatest global warming footprint via the XL Pipeline to our gulf coast for exporting to other nations.  I need for them to explain once again how that stuff is for U.S. consumers because I’m not seeing how exporting it makes it for us.

One last comment: That ad and the others like it are sponsored by the American Petroleum Industry, the promotional organization of Big Oil.  Just so you know.

“We move through life like a man in a rowboat, looking back even as we move forward.” – William Landay

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

O’ See Can You Say?

Scratch any neo-con and you’ll instantly hear the vision: “We want small government, low taxes and the government out of our lives.”  Clear, crisp and compelling.

Scratch a progressive and you’ll hear paragraphs of theory and a rant that will make your eyes cross and will hurt your brain.  And the message will change with each progressive you listen to, leaving you confused and reaching for something solid on which to steady yourself.

The righties have been selling their message consistently at least since Richard Nixon.  He wanted to discredit the press – he called them the “eastern liberal press.”  They were the people he saw through his paranoia as always attacking him.  So, he had his felon vice-president Spiro T. Agnew call them “nattering nabobs of negativity” and Agnew used that moniker over and over.  It didn’t matter whether people knew what a nabob was, because the message that the press can’t be trusted got through.  And it is continuing to get through.

The attack on the press (now the “media”) has most recently and shrilly been blared through the snarling lips of Sarah Palin, who calls the press the “lamestream media,” which is odd, since she is a regular on Fox News, making her part of the “lamestream media.”

The press used to be called the Fourth Estate.  It was seen as a de facto check on government and was trusted to do that job.  Not so much any more, though, after 44 years of being slimed by the self-appointed Republican attack machine.

Ronald Reagan was up front in selling distrust of government.  He told us that the nine most feared words in the English language are, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”   He played into people’s stereotyped attitudes and frustrations and got himself elected as the head of the government, strangely doing this by denouncing government.

He told us he was for small government, low taxes and the government out of our lives.  Then he set about massively increasing government, raising taxes twelve times and building national debt that surpassed all other presidents combined.  Yet strangely, he’s still remembered as the president who was for small government and low taxes.  That disconnect can be traced to neo-cons selling the Reagan image (not the substance) consistently for twenty-four years, so that few Americans hear the lie and realize that the Republicans are largely responsible for the terrible economic situation in which Americans find themselves and their country today.

At the most recent Republican primary debate one of the candidates used the post office as an example of government failure and illustrative of how we don’t want government running our healthcare.  The South Carolina Republican audience loved it, even though the post office is a model of low cost mail delivery that consistently produces excellent results.  It was fiscally solvent until the Republicans required it to fully fund the pensions of workers not yet born.  Furthermore, the government runs Medicare and nobody on Medicare – not a single person – will say they don’t like it.  Still, the image of government bungling and inefficiency sells to an already jaded public.

The point is that the Republicans have had great success in keeping their hands on power by selling a clear, crisp and compelling vision in a clear, crisp and compelling way.  And they have done that while pursuing exactly the opposite of what they promise.  To be sure, that dichotomy is not solely the province of Republicans; however, what is most important to learn is the excellence of their messaging.  It sells.  It gets votes.  It wins elections.

People have chuckled for decades over Will Rogers’ declaration, “I’m not a member of an organized political party.  I’m a Democrat.”   Somehow, that isn’t quite as funny today, when America is desperate for organization around a clear, crisp and compelling vision that is worthy of us and doesn’t pander to extremists.

We’re struggling through the largely fact-free world of politics with little but lies and distortion to be seen.  It’s time the progressives got it together to produce a clear, crisp and compelling message to go along with a clear and vibrant strategy.  The best products don’t always win, but the best marketing does.

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Not Very Brave New World

During one of the Republican primary season debates Wolf Blitzer posed a question to the candidates about healthcare.  He imagined a young fellow who was significantly ailing and was in the emergency room of a hospital where they determined that he would die if not treated immediately.  Blitzer further said to imagine that his hypothetical subject was without financial means and did not have healthcare insurance.  His question was about what the hospital staff should do.

After a couple of beats someone in the audience shouted, “Let him die.”  There were cheers from others in the audience.  And every one of the Republicans running to be the party nominee for the office of President of the United States went silent.  Not a single one of them stood up to the hate, nor chastised the meanness of the shouted comment.  Not one had the spine to display compassion for a fellow human being.

They displayed that same kind of spinelessness at another debate when a gay serviceman was shown on video with a question about gays serving openly in the military.  Audience members booed him and once again these would-be leaders were silent.  Be clear that this soldier is a man who puts his life on the line every day to protect those very same candidates and audience members, yet the candidates displayed neither spine nor compassion for him or for others like him.

Those yelling the loudest today are the far right radicals and they are not conservative.  They are not even defenders of the Constitution.  They are short sighted and closed-minded bullies masquerading as bible thumping Christians.  America is suffering through an aggravated case of absolutist minds and it is killing our democracy.

In the early part of the last century one of the hateful signs hung on the doors of some companies read, “No Irish need apply.”  There were signs all over the Jim Crow south that read, “Whites only.”  And for decades and perhaps centuries there was and, in some places there still is, a “gentlemen’s agreement” to exclude Jews.  That’s rapidly metastasizing to include Muslims.  It’s more complicated than this, but at root it is a discrimination against anything that is not “us.”

We are seeing a willful brain numbing that says that anything that is not just like “us” is wrong, unpatriotic, godless and perhaps evil.  How odd that is in a country that draws its strength from its diversity.  We’ve always had that schizophrenic duality, but now the hateful side, the Mr. Hyde personality, is dominating the landscape in a razed earth war against everyone and everything that is not just like him.  Worse, those who would be leaders are spineless against Mr. Hyde’s voice of hate and exclusion.

This is America, so the haters have the right to their hate and the candidates have the right to their cowardice.  The key question is this:  How long will you tolerate the hate?

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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