Dem’s, Rep’s & Money for Winning

Mid-term election season is in full swing…yea…

I say that somewhat sardonically because as much as I consider voting a deep privilege that I will never regard as unworthy of my time and attention (or, as in my rantings on the August 15th show, as a means of protest by not doing it…sheeesh, how ineffective is that?!), it’s distinctly about who has the most money, not who has the best leadership platform.

Unfortunate, given that there’s quite a few candidates providing a terrific alternative to both our very tired 2-party system, and/or ye olde politics as usual within it, who will never see anything but the visitors bathrooms in the US or their State Capitol because they simply have insufficient funds to compete.

But, hey, in a capitalist society, that’s how things get done…with money…and lots of it.

Of the two parties, well-connected Republicans tend to win the money-raising contest with their eyes closed (and their hands wide open…).  The reason:

  • Republicans represent the interests of business and the wealthy, primarily – both having deep and gold-lined pockets
  • Democrats primarily represent the interests of the poor, the disenfranchised, and the elderly – all with no pockets, and even less voice

Democrats too have both hands open for business…the only problem is their monied constituency is much more limited.

Yet Obama set records for his fund-raising in 2008 – winning him the election.  Huh?!  How can that happen given this equation?

He filled his coffers one $5 – $10 donation at a time.  The Teaparty is doing the same. It’s the power of numbers over the power of “numbers”.

So, anyone who believes the power of the “little people” can’t match or even surpass the power of Big Pharma, Big Biz, and Big Wigs, rent “Erin Brockovich”, revisit the 2008 Presidential election, and then make your little donation to your “underdog” candidate – and tell everyone you know to do the same.

History has proven that it really adds up....and it works.

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Restoring Honor…Boomer Style

This is an excerpt from a chapter of my soon to be released book Is That My Light at the End of the Tunnel? that speaks directly to what we Boomers can and must do to find our “lights” at the end of our “tunnels” – this one relating well to the notion of restoring what’s been lost:

Boomers, Unite!

Yeah, right….  We are about as single-minded on how to individually handle the important issues I’ve raised in our “tunnels” as are the Europeans on how to run their Union.

But, that said, there are some basic concepts which I believe the vast majority of us can comfortably get behind, and on which we can build our comeback.

These are the aspects of our Flower Power revolution (even without the LSD) that are a combination of common sense, common kindness, and the underpinnings of all the major world religions.  They are:

  • Living your beliefs while allowing others to live theirs (e.g. walk the talk…no finger pointing)
  • Being kind to our planet, and those less fortunate than ourselves
  • Actively rejecting any form of tyranny
  • Standing up against abuse and exploitation of other humans (which, according to Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Weisel, was the correct reason for invading Iraq), and other species
  • Having one martini a night to get us through all of this (just checking to see if you were paying attention…)
  • Finding government and corporate deceit unacceptable
  • Believing in the power of love, from being non-judgmental of others’ lives to eschewing meanness

So, when it comes down to it, here’s the “honor” we must restore right now, associated with grinding issues we’re facing at this moment, based on the above ideals – we’ve lost track of them, and with our great influence/power must ensure we find again:

  • As the most educated generation alive today, start using our great brains to learn and work with the facts, whether we like those facts or not;
  • Remember and reclaim what we believed in our youth: love conquering hate, & equality for all (thus our fight for women’s/civil rights, eliminating discrimination in housing & hiring, etc.); to abandon those society-altering-for-the-better ideals with our Muslim neighbors because of their radical minority (hey, Christians have the KKK & Neo-Nazis) is beneath us;
  • Another reclamation from our youth: refusing to accept the poor behavior of “the man” we so reviled back then…which, by the way, is now us…we became “the man” (we are the ones in charge of most big corporations, and governments) – we can and must rise up against our own generations’ misdeeds, greediness, & complete lack of interest in the greater good.
  • Although history debates the motivation for our society-bettering deeds back then…was it out of pessimism or optimism? – I say it was a combination of both…pessimism about the direction our nation/world had taken, and optimism that if we fought hard enough we could change it.  In our age-related crankiness we have lost our optimism, settling comfortably into a world-view based too much on fear and self-protection.  Opening up our minds and hearts again is imperative if we hope to make changes that are for the better.

Do these things, and our honor – as the generation that historically made a greater impact on social change than any other in the history of our nation – will indeed be restored.

A Fairy Tale for the Silent Majority

Once upon a time, in a land that was the mightiest throughout the world, the people in charge known as “Boomers” became very disgruntled and returned to their roots of activism; well, actually, only a small number of them did, but the media made it seem like it was lots & lots of them…

Yes, the protestors, on the extreme of both sides of the political divide, became very ugly…ooops, uh, vocal… about their unhappiness with many things the rulers of the land were doing, things like:

  • Passing “health care reform” where the peoples’ money was to be used to keep lots & lots of loyal subjects from, well, dying because they couldn’t afford care
  • Or not passing the part of health care reform called the “public option” whereby all subjects get government backed insurance no matter what
  • Or being too hard…or too soft… on a problem called “illegal immigration” whereby millions of people from another land called “Mexico” sneak in without permission to get work that no one else wants, but also get publicly funded healthcare and education…

These protestors were portrayed by the mainstream media as representing what most people of the land believed.

But low and behold, they were actually:

  • only 24% of all Republican voters, and only 20% of all Democratic voters
  • Boomers who were overwhelmingly White & male
  • Boomers who were retired or semi-retired so they had lots of time on their hands
  • or Boomers who were unemployed so they had lots of time on their hands and they were really cranky…

The most widely publicized complaint made by a group of these protesting subjects was that government money spent on programs called “entitlements,” designed to help the people of the land, are bad…except the ones they use (like a thing called “Social Security,” a government program designed to help the aging people of the land…or something called “unemployment compensation,” a government program to help people pay their bills while they’re out of work…).

And they vowed to take their revenge on any of the land’s leaders who voted for any such programs like health care reform without a public option, or health care reform of any sort which some protestors believed wasn’t needed at all, since most of them would soon be eligible for a thing called “Medicare” – another government program providing medical coverage for older subjects…

Thus, over a short period of time, and with help from the entire range of main stream media, it appeared that a minority of the land’s subjects would be able to dictate what the majority would get & what they “should” believe.

But alack, what about the other 56%?  Where did they stand?  What did they want?  Why were their voices not resounding out across the land?

We don’t as yet know the answer, but the moral of the story is:

In a land where the majority rules, and that majority is a “silent” one, the many will see their fate sealed by the will of the few…and in any other land, that is called a “dictatorship.”

We want to know what you think of our fairy tale.

Warning to “Non-voters”

I want to address the concept of not voting, which many think is an effective way to show discontent with candidate choices or the system in general.

Boy is that a fool’s errand.  Similar to snipe hunting.

The classic  fool’s errand comes in three varieties: going after something that in reality is non-existent, trying to accomplish a task in an impossible way, or trying to accomplish an impossible task.  By any of these criteria, not voting as a form of “protest” qualifies.

Because not voting is a completely inane method for getting your point across…right up there with, say, not paying your credit card bill as a way to protest high interest rates, or not calling a plumber to fix the leak that’s flooding your bathroom as a way to protest high contractor costs… the entity you’re protesting either doesn’t care or doesn’t know the difference, and the only one you’re hurting…is you.

The problem is…our form of government relies on a nifty concept known as majority rule, yet in any given race, the highest voter turn out, particularly from Boomers, is anywhere between 38 & 47%; the 2008 Presidential race had the highest turnout seen since 1968…at 56.8%.  Pathetic, isn’t it?

Such abysmal turn-out means two things:

  1. we have turned into a minority rule form a government: candidates are voted in by a majority, but it’s a majority of a minority of all registered voters…and
  2. you’re letting folks you don’t know, choose for you…bet you wouldn’t do that with even the most inconsequential things, so why would you do it for something as unequivocally imperative as who leads our country/states/counties/etc.?

Now I’ll break it down one step further, so you can see who is doing the voting for you…:

  • Only about 33% of consistent voters know precisely who they want to win regardless of party affiliation, and vote based on a candidate’s actual record of accomplishments…
  • but another approximately 33% of those who vote regularly do so along strict party lines regardless of the candidate’s qualifications or leadership capability
  • the remaining approximately 33% are undecided, usually until the last few days, and base their vote almost solely on the ever so truthful and fact-filled campaign ads they see on TV, and their vote oftentimes can determine who wins….
  • This means that approximately 66% of those who vote are doing so not based on candidates’ track record and true leadership capabilities, but upon pure rhetoric or party affiliation – which is why we have the kinds of rampant unprofessional, unethical, and unlawful behavior on an ever increasing scale that we see regularly on Capitol Hill, and more often now on the State and local levels
  • If companies/business owners hired their top managers on the above basis, Enron would be the norm….
  • Bottom line – the laws and priorities of the most powerful country on the planet are set by folks who were elected by a minority of voters, 2/3 of whom chose these folks for all the wrong reasons…

This is 100% scarey…. And we’re responsible…not the political parties, not the PAC’s, not big business….us.  We can stop wondering why those who get elected to public office are better suited for the National Enquirer than the House/Senate floor.

So, my fellow Boomers, as I said last post, keep doing the same ineffective thing and you’ll keep seeing the same dismal results.

Remember, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again, but expecting a different outcome.

Or, perhaps it’s yet the best definition of a fool’s errand.

What do you think?  Let me know.

Have the Rules of Politics Changed?

At the end of Star Trek II, The Wrath of Khan, Mr. Spock dies, and when asked by an anguished Jim Kirk why he sacrificed himself, he states simply: “Don’t grieve, Admiral: The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few…or the one”

Jonah Goldberg, an editor at large of the conservative National Review Online, bemoans the shifting of the rules of politics, from what has up to now been straight lines from point A of a societal shift, to Point B, our typical response to it; I quote:

“For more than 40 years it has been a rule that environmental disasters – and scares over alleged ones – help environmentalists push tighter regulations…  According to the rules populism is a force for getting the government to do more, not less…According to the rules, Americans don’t care bout the deficit during a recession….And yet (today) none of these rules seem to be applying; at least not too strongly…As a conservative…it’s becoming harder and harder to shake the feeling that something bigger than politics as usual is at work here.”

Indeed, something bigger than “politics” as the public generally defines the concept is at work, and I believe Mr. Spock’s dying words provide the explanation.

We have…voters and legislators alike…abandoned the willingness to do what is best to meet the needs of the many, wanting instead to ensure that our idiosyncratic needs, i.e. those of the few, are met.

Thus the schizophrenic reactions from every body politic, left/middle/right.  The extreme Right wants less government….unless it negatively impacts entitlements they hold dear like Social Security and Medicare; extreme liberals want more government…unless it interferes with individual causes like immigration and sensible regulation of the internet; Centrists may see both sides of the issue, but are paralyzed by indecision, or flip-flop, because they too get mired in what will best serve an individual vs. greater good.  We want what we want when we want it, without regard for either the long-term or overall impact of our choices.  We don’t seem to care about the big picture…the needs of the many.

In Star Trek III, Mr. Spock comes back to life in perfect sci-fi form…so his sacrifice wasn’t a final one after all.  The same is true for us.  By doing what’s best for the many over time, even when it will create some hardship for the few in the (relative) short-run, our sacrifices, too, may be difficult, but will not be permanent.  From energy sources to social security, only once the many agree to place the country’s wellbeing as a whole above their own individual wish lists, will we at last be on the path to a better nation.