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The late 1960s was a deeply troubling time. Political assassinations, civil injustice and upheaval and a divisive war all had America in spasms of confusion and conflict, even down to an individual level.
I spent a large portion of my senior year in college,1967-1968, wrestling with what I would do when my 2S deferment would run out in spring. I felt a deep sense of duty to my country, yet the war in Viet Nam seemed so wrong to me that I did not want to support efforts to prosecute it – not even indirectly. My problem was solved at the end of my pre-induction physical, when a military doc processing the herd of fresh meat for that day pronounced me a 1Y.
That didn’t satisfy my sense of duty to country, though, and it didn’t take a great deal of introspection to realize that if I didn’t go to war, some poor kid from somewhere else would take my place. What did I owe that kid? What did I owe America? I’m guessing the avoidance of military duty left many others with similar feelings, a sense of lack of obligation fulfillment.
I looked into running for Congress as a way to serve my country, but after much investigation realized that I couldn’t stomach the continuous begging for campaign cash that our elected representatives have to do, so I looked for a better way to contribute. That was around the same time that I came to realize the corrosive effect big money has on our politics and on our democracy.
The influx of big money into our politics is the mother lode of our national dysfunction. Jimmy Carter calls it “legalized bribery.” It drives our insanely expensive and second rate healthcare outcomes, our too-big-to-fail banks that are once again driving us to the precipice, our continuing refusal to create and follow any energy policy for this new century (or even the last one) in order to avoid catastrophic global warming, the entrenched refusal to do anything to prevent three dozen gun murders per day – the list goes on and on, and 4 out of 5 Americans who know about the big money in our politics that drives our dysfunction want that changed. Once I saw that with sufficient clarity, not surprisingly, an idea emerged and it turned into a program.
I deliver leadership keynote presentations and workshops for a living, so it was a natural fit to harness the skills I use in the business world to educate and motivate Americans to action over our campaign finance and lobbying dishonesty. That is to say, more Americans need to know what’s really going on, because 80% of those who know will demand that we clean up this cesspool of political corruption. I set out to let them know about it.
I created Money, Politics & Democracy: You Aren’t Getting What You Want. It is a 1 hour, 15 minute presentation that outlines how we got to where we are, the mess we’ve made of our democracy such that We The People aren’t getting what we want and, most importantly, what we can do about it. The program is non-partisan and is not aligned with any political candidate for any office. It is an equal opportunity exposure of the outrageous mess that is our campaign finance and lobbying systems. It is designed to open eyes and catalyze Americans to demand change, the nation-defining transformation we need if we are to remain a democracy.
Here’s the call to action: Connect me with groups where I can deliver this message. I don’t want anything other than to have the opportunity to serve our country and change it for the better. This is about our duty – my duty – to make a difference for America. Will you help me do that?
Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.
ACTION STEP: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe. Thanks! JA
Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
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