Politics


What Does This Country Need?

What this country needs is a good five-cent cigar. Thomas Marshall, United States Vice President

The cigar quote is attributed to Woodrow Wilson’s two-term Vice President, Thomas Marshall. Presiding over the Senate and after listening to an interminable senatorial speech on what America needs, Marshall allegedly leaned over to a colleague and offered his pithy assessment of what the country required. And, of course, Marshall is remembered today. A footnote.

What do you think America needs today? Seriously, if you could wave a magic wand, what would you implement/initiate that would make America a “better” place?

I think the nation is “half-measuring” itself to the dustbin of history. We seem incapable of achieving two important tasks: 1.) Determining (as a society) important national priorities and, 2.) Agreeing (a consensus) on how to achieve/pursue them. I am sadly disheartened regarding the course of America.

Is there one particular example that best exemplifies where 21st century America finds itself? I am sure that my more reflective readers could provide an illustration, or two. Send me your examples but I insist they be unambiguous as to how they clearly demonstrate the nation’s descent to mediocrity.
I make the distinction between specific acts of self-interest (recall Alaska’s bridge to nowhere), which was merely legislative “PORK” run-amuck. It is a timeless practice, based on greed and power. No, I want clear-cut examples of systemic deterioration of the national fiber.

Among the many examples that immediately come to mind, I’ve one that clearly captures the challenge confronting the United States.

In the summer of 2012 the Texas Republican Party agreed to the following provision in its Party Platform: Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills . . . which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

To go on record, publicly no less, that as Republicans you oppose teaching our children critical thinking skills is a staggering indictment of the nation as a whole. Why oppose critical thinking? Because it might challenge one’s “fixed beliefs?” What? Critical thinking might actually lead to behavior modification? For shame, that we ever change our thinking or –horrors!– our behavior!

My goodness, Jepson, I’m not sending my kid to school so she learns to think for herself! Sacrebleu!

What does it say, that the governing political party in the second largest state in the United States goes on public record opposing higher order thinking skills, critical thinking, because—bottom-line—authority may be challenged?

This is at the crux of much of human history. Time and time again, authority opposed change because change is threatening. To power. To privilege. To wealth. To what is known. To the status quo. To the “sacred” unchallengeable verities.

Fortunately, for humanity, such rearguard reactionary actions never succeed in the long run. Change is as predictable as each new day. Mercifully so. No nation, no people remain “in” power forever. We like to think we (Americans) are different in that regard. That history is irrelevant, that we will be on-top forever.

To oppose the teaching of critical thinking facilitates America’s decline and is emblematic of us today, as a culture. Someday future Americans will sadly ask, “What were those people thinking?” The answer: we weren’t.

Nay, Republicans are actually on record opposing it.

Whammy Burger Nation

The Platonic idealist is the man by nature so wedded to perfection that he sees in everything not the reality but the faultless ideal which the reality misses… George Santayana

Irony, of late, has garnered a bad name. Sincerity is the valued coin of the realm these days. And so it is with the burgeoning Secessionist Movement, where disillusioned Americans petition to withdraw from the Union. My inclination is to ridicule such sentiments particularly since the location of secessionist rhetoric is centered in the Heart of Dixie. I do attach racist and nativist underpinnings to the Secessionist “argument” but I think something else is going on as well.

An appropriate illustration of where a number of our fellow citizens find themselves (me, too, at times) is in our sympathy for the character Michael Douglas plays in the 1993 movie “Falling Down.” Douglas portrays a recently laid off defense contractor employee, William Foster. Foster is divorced, disillusioned, depressed and in despair. All he wants is to attend his daughter’s birthday party but has a restraining order against him by his divorced wife. Caught in LA freeway traffic, he abandons his car and begins the long walk across the city to see his daughter.

Foster has many run-ins on his journey crossing a modern American hell but the classic confrontation (for me) occurs in a fastfood restaurant featuring the Whammy Burger. Foster orders off a visual menu showing the quintessential perfect hamburger—The Whammy Burger—photographed to steaming culinary perfection. Alas, when it arrives, it is anything but. It’s pathetic. Soggy bread, wilted lettuce and a piece of meat the size of a burnt quarter. What happens next is what all of us have all dreamed of—Walter Mitty-like—doing. Worth a look-see.

I liken the Secessionist mindset to Foster’s viewing of the perfect Whammy Burger. In the back of the Secessionist mind is some ideal of an American golden-age, a blessed America, of that “shining city on the hill.” Yet the reality of our pluralistic democracy, with all our diverse constituencies vying for power and preference, well, it is a shockingly rude slap to the face to those who have an idealized (or infantile) conception of American history. As has been observed the making of slaughterhouse sausage and representative democracy have much in common.

Secessionists lament the loss of freedom. I am unsure of what loss they mourn. I recently attended a private Shoot’N’Annie along the St. John’s River with enough guns and ammo to have respectably defended Stalingrad in 1943. I do not see any loss of freedom when it comes to the Second Amendment. No one is requiring anyone to attend a specific church. You definitely can speak your mind in America.

No, Jepson, loss of freedom when it comes to taxes and onerous regulations (like being required to contribute to your healthcare). Ah, taxes and regulations. “Oh, wouldn’t it be loverly” to again have an American population of 3.9 million, as was the United States in 1787, with an entire continent at your feet, virtually vacant, to exploit. Just over the next hill, the long arm of “that” onerous government nonexistent.

America was never the “faultless ideal,” the most perfect of Whammy Burger Nations. And this, Dear Reader, is what is. A diet of illusion and ignorance are always menu options in a democracy. What’s the tagline? Tastes Great! . . . Less filling! Not very sustaining in the long run, however. For the individual or the nation.

New Tricks For Old Dawgs?

A lot has been said about the Presidential election that unless the Republicans expand their base of support, the GOP will inevitably slide into irrelevant obscurity, modern day Whigs, if you will. The GOP is essentially a white person’s political party. Break it down even further, it’s essentially an old man’s whites-only club. Deconstruct it even more, Romney carried the Old South (Dixie) and a few low population western states. It begs the question of how much of the anti-Obama white vote was based on the President being a black?

Racial prejudice is something I’ve never quite understood. Interesting that some of the whitest states, Iowa for example (90%+ white) voted for Obama. A majority of white Iowans voted for Obama whereas that was not the case in Southern States. A vast majority of white Mississippians, for example, voted for Romney. Why the difference? Why would Iowans, an overwhelmingly white state vote for Obama yet a majority of white voters in Mississippi would not?

I believe a percentage of the anti-Obama white vote was based on voter discomfort with having a black man lead the United States. A black president does not validate or confirm “that” voter’s worldview. I think if you pressed such a voter, they would predictably deny racial prejudice.

Of course, there are a myriad of reasons why anyone selects one candidate, one political party over another. I do believe, however, that a candidate’s race does, pardon the pun, “color” some voter’s perspective and how they ultimately vote.

What does any of this mean for the Republican Party winning national (or even statewide) contests? If a vast majority of your party is made-up of old white men (and women), future demographics are running against you. The reality is running, contrary to the lyrics that, “Time is on my side, yes it is.” Except it isn’t. Our growing multi-cultural, ethnically diverse population will not come “running back” to white America. It’s over, white boys.

As a white boy myself, I grew-up in lily-white Iowa. In my hometown of Sioux City in the 1950s & 60s, there were perhaps, at most, 50 black families. Even during the demonstrations and violence of the Civil Rights movement race was not a regular topic of discussion around my dinner table. Vietnam was a much more discussed issue because of its potential impact on the family (my brother and I were of draft age).

None of my friends, save my best friend Ron Jones, ever mentioned black people or the challenges they faced. Racial epithets were never thrown around because, I believe, it was not the language we heard in our homes. Not because “we” were better but because race wasn’t an issue, in the community’s face, so to speak. There were no civil right’s marches in Sioux City that I ever recall.

In 1974 while back in Sioux City, my father volunteered (out-of-the-blue) something to the effect, “You know, son, I had it wrong. Negroes have had a raw deal in America. They were enslaved and are horribly treated yet today. They are just seeking their due justice. They want to have what the rest of us have.” Amen, Dad.

That didn’t mean he’d have been overjoyed with a black family moving in next door. My father is dead. As will be the GOP if Republicans do not lose their prejudice of minorities—of every color and, as importantly, of every persuasion.

All Aboard!

There is a part of me that wants to be more detached from the daily hub-bub of modern life. I don’t want to care so much about who won Tuesday’s election or whether or not the Florida Constitution is amended—again—by right-wing craziness. Obama-Romney? Tweedle-dee-Tweedle-dum. But, but, but he’ll nominate Supreme Court judges who’ll, who’ll . . . Yep, he probably will. Yet, as Annie sings, “The sun will come out tomorrow.”

I’ve been reading of late on Epicureanism. I recommend, my informed reader, that you do as well. The faithful are typically told to dismiss Epicurus and his philosophy as treacherous hedonism because of his emphasis on the pursuit of pleasure and happiness. Oooooh. Nasty, nasty. Pleasure and happiness. Nasty. Read last year’s Pulitzer Prize winning book for history titled, The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt. Quite an enjoyable read on how the West (Europe) was fortuitously reintroduced to Epicurus in the 15th century.

Epicurus was a 3rd century BC Athenian philosopher who advocated sensible approaches to living, one of which, however, I have a hard time following. Epicureans avoided politics (governance), that hot, tumultuous cauldron of public life. Epicurus recommended we literally tend our “garden” and avoid the meaningless distractions from that riotous mob forever barking nonsense at your “garden’s” edge. Mind your own business, be contemplative, pursue friendships, live moderately, happiness and pleasure are life’s legitimate pursuits, think/live rationally and do not fear death. That is quite a reasoned agenda. And, one sadly at odds with our increasingly superstitious and religiously reactionary times.

I am drawn by the idea of withdrawal from society or, rather, withdrawing from actively participating in the idiocy of my fellow man.

I am such a fatalist, at this point, concerning the environment of Florida, or of any of the, as yet, still pristine parts of Earth. For that matter, I am beyond weeping for what “we” are losing or have already lost. Everyday a new report is issued on the ongoing rape of the planet. If Republicans think—really?—that women experience illegitimate rapes, one can only imagine their explanations for the ongoing rape of our Mother Earth. Democrats are complicit as well in the desecration of the planet. It’s all a matter of degree, of proportionality. It’s all about jobs don’t-cha see.

As well it should be. Seven billion swilling at the trough today, another two billion predicted to arrive this century. 310 million Americans today, perhaps 500 million before 2100? Won’t that be just great, so environmentally healthy for North America? Sustainability? Why consider such nonsense?

Our industrial farming is poisoning our land and water and our agricultural practices are washing our topsoil at record levels to the sea.

Our military is a bloated albatross around our national neck but instead of lightening the burden we forever mindlessly salute the Stars & Stripes and look for other world “opportunities” to liberally impose democracy at the end of an American gun barrel.

I enjoy mindless bromides such as, “There is no I in Team.” Well, we’ve reached a point where, “There is no “WE” in America.” Our politics, our leaders, our policies are obscene.

Perhaps this is what fixes our interest and participation. With fingers splayed, we watch transfixed at this utterly fascinating train-wreck called humanity. Such art! Obscene? You bet! But, my gawd show me more.

Mr. Conductor, puh-leeese, punch my ticket through to the end of the line.

I’m going all the way! Woo-Woo!

I See Republicans . . .

Recall the 1999 Bruce Willis movie titled The Sixth Sense. Out of that quite good little drama came the now famous line, “I See Dead People. And They Don’t Like You.” That catchy expression morfed into many variations but my t-shirt favorite went, “I Hear Voices . . . And They Don’t Like You.”

I’ve been trying to understand what is going on in the Republican Party when it comes to women, their bodies, sex and fertility. It’s essentially a male run concern, the Republican Party, although you have a predictable number of Republican women serving as faithful acolytes. Outliers, if you will, at odds, in their solidarity with their American sisters at large.

American women who willingly participate in their own subjugation remind me of those unfortunate women who perform the barbaric female genital mutilations in Sudan and Somalia. No woman, free of male domination (thinking), would voluntarily oppress other women in such ways.

It is as if Republican men are ignorant of history. For past 8,000 years, the male boot has been firmly placed on the neck of females. I do not know if we’ll ever understand the historical origins of why men came to consider women as “less” than men, but it is undeniable that that is/was the case. Bigger, more ferocious, men like to dominate.

Religions, too, historically, have played a tragic role in the marginalization of women. Although, interestingly enough, it was Martin Luther who, during the 16th century Reformation, jump-started the change in the status of women. He advocated that women be taught to read (imagine that!) and he married (radical idea: a married clergy). Educating women (reading) was the game-changer, however.

Go back and examine the status of Western women even during our more enlightened times. They were hardly enlightened for women. Plato’s Greece, The Renaissance, The Age of Reason were all unquestionably oppressive for women. In 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft issued her now seminal A Vindication Of The Rights of Woman and the case for female equality was formally up for public discussion.

It took until the mid-19th century before British women could make any claim to personal property or even to her own wages. Reflect one second on this fact: the United States gave the right to vote to emancipated male slaves—SLAVES—decades before America’s daughters were afforded that right. That is how little women were considered.

There was a time in my grandmother’s adult life when she could not vote. Less than 100 years ago, American women could not vote. That is a nano-second ago, historically speaking.

The Republican Party is the party of female oppression. It revolves around who will control a woman’s sexuality and fertility. The Republican Party Platform (Mitt Romney & Paul Ryan) would have the government, for all intents and purposes, regulating and managing a woman’s uterus. Will our daughters someday—upon the onset of menses—be required to register their uteruses to ensure their compliance with state fertility laws?

Abortion, birth control, fertility, reproductive prerogatives are individual, fundamental female (human) rights. To interject the state into this dynamic is totalitarian and unacceptable.

Republicans would deny female autonomy, would continue to place the historical boot heel of oppression upon the necks of our daughters. Expect each American woman to think and act for herself.

I See Republicans . . . And They Don’t Respect Women.

Vote accordingly.

The Newly Reminted Moderate Mitt

Lady Astor: My God sir! You’re drunk!
Winston Churchill: Why yes madam, I am. But when you wake up in the morning, you’ll still be ugly.

Relax. I want all my liberal Democratic friends to just breathe in and relax. It’s going to be just fine. Take a deep breath. It’s will be all right. Barack Obama is going to be re-elected President. He is.

Yes, Obama had an off night in the first debate and Romney, well, Romney was himself.
By that I mean, Mercurial Mitt was in full makeover mode. Taxcuts for the wealthy? What? Mitt ain’t for that. Shut The Front Door! No way. $5 trillion in tax cuts. Mitt never implied that (except, of course, he did). Cut education funding? What? And hurt our kids! Not ol’ moderate Mitt!

Yes, the Mittster did recently state, “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what . . . and my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” But guess what? Mitt didn’t mean it! Really. He now likes 100% of Americans. Even smelly unwashed impoverished Americans on commie food stamps. Mitt likes’us all. Really.

Don’t worry about the newly reminted moderate Mitt who was rolled-out last week during the Denver debate. You remember Moderate Mitt. Once upon a time he supported abortion rights. Yes, he did! Really! Not only that but wifey-Ann gave Planned Parenthood a $150 contribution at a fundraiser. She did! Honestly! So when Mitt found “Life” so, too, wifey-Ann. Imagine that! Mitt claimed in 1994 that, “I don’t line up with the NRA,” and then he actually enacted a measure of gun reform. See Massachusetts Mitt have a backbone. Really.

Oh, my! Mitt, in another life, said that humans cause climate change. Noooo, you say? Yes, really! And previous Mitt, not so many years ago, advocated an individual insurance mandate. Really. Yes, something Republicans supported before Obama advocated as much.

Two phrases come to mind when I think of the newly reminted Moderate Mitt. The first is “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear” and the second is “hoisted on your petard.” Ol’ silk stocking Moderate Mitt slummed too long with the Tea Party/Sow’s Ear wing of the Republican Party for any miraculous “moderate” transformation to be even remotely believable. What Mitt says this week—this moment—is no guarantee what he’ll believe tomorrow or next year.

I’m surprised Republicans support Mitt’s dissembling. Most Americans consider it an unappealing quality in a man. Mitt Romney is essentially a coward when you get down to it. He does not have the courage of his own convictions. Because he has few. For any longer than a week or year. Ultimately he will be hoisted on his own petard. He tossed out the moderation “bomb” and public blowback will inevitably sink his candidacy. There is no “there” to Romney. He’s an apparition, a ghost, a man with neither compass nor backbone.

I’m reminded of that exchange between Astor and Churchill.

However Romney might characterize Obama, the President might respond, “Why yes Mitt, perhaps I am. But when you wake up in the morning, you’ll still be Mitt Romney.”

A thin shell of a man. A Republican without conviction or principle. A tawdry, shape-shifting business oligarch, a shameless opportunist and presidential loser.

The Message Versus The Messenger

A gentleman provided a letter to Monday’s (10/01) Orlando Sentinel that read in part, “If it’s God’s word . . . there needs to be no discussion – end of story.” He closes with, “God’s word is final and supreme in the United States of America.”

This is “red meat” rhetoric of a Bible literalist. I sometimes fanaticize about publically debating such an individual (Possible topic: “Is a belief in a personal god necessary for living an ethical life?), but then realize what would be the point? I’d stand-up and give what I believe in and why (something along the lines of the Crash Davis, “I Believe In. . .” speech from the movie Bull Durham). The opposition would stand and say, in essence, “Cuz the Bible says it’s so.” I’d offer some facts (science/logic/history). He’d respond with dogma/scripture/faith. And, as is said, “never the twain shall meet.”

He’d leave the debate thinking me a “damned” apostate and I considering him little better than the village simpleton.

One of the real joys in living in 21st century America (the West) is we can experience our individual lives (generally speaking) without fear of censorship or repression by the state. Believe what you will but mind your own business – that’s the ticket to a free society. Unfortunately, my conviction of “Believe what you will and MYOB” bumps into the prescriptive dogma of the religiously certain. You see this when it comes to such issues as stem cell research, abortion rights, birth control, Gay rights, Gay marriage, women’s rights, censorship, climate change, population control, stewardship of the Earth, etc. And, unbelievably, facts are irrelevant.

Facts are irrelevant? If I were to characterize one of the most troubling changes in America during my lifetime it would be the diminution of fact as the basis of discussion and public discourse. I believe as Daniel Patrick Moynihan observed, “You’re entitled to your own opinions. You’re not entitled to your own facts.”

Here’s the crux of the challenge facing America. We’ve substantive problems needing to be addressed. We know what they are. Poverty. Opportunity. Racism. Education. Economic viability. Sustainability. Infrastructure. Environment. Imperialism. Healthcare. And on and on. The polarization we see in America has a number of explanations but one of the primary reasons is, again, as Senator Moynihan pointed out, “You’re not entitled to your own facts.”

Oh, I can hear the objections now, “Jepson, who died and made you Pope? Such that “YOU” get to determine what is fact?” I don’t. But I will rely on learned, scholarly minds, scientifically-based research and reason to make a decision or formulate public policy. And here’s the rub, whether you are conservative or liberal in perspective, who “gives” you the facts is often as important (sadly so) as the facts themselves.

In other words, the messenger is as important as the message. Imagine if Billy Graham’s last words to the faithful were, “God wants you to cherish Mother Earth as fervently as you love God Himself. The environmental desecration of the planet must stop today. It is sinful not to.”

Or, if Bill Clinton said, “We need to means-test Medicare.”

Opinions—even ones we don’t like—should stand on their own merits (Just the facts, Ma’am.). Sometimes, however, they are more palatable when they “stand” on the shoulders of those we already believe.

Quite The Contrary

Fiddle Dee Dee, I’ll think about that tomorrow. So says Mitt Romney on how he’ll balance the Federal Budget. First he’ll cut taxes by, oh, four-five trillion dollars and then he’ll square the accounts by eliminating loopholes, cutting waste and fraud and other specific government programs. None of this adds up, of course but when pressed to give specifics, Romney demurs saying all will be revealed after he is President. Just wait.

Anyone with half a load on (and that is you Dear Reader) knows that it will require a combination of tax increases and program cuts to achieve a balanced budget. It will involve cuts to the military and Medicare for sure. Age requirements for Social Security will be raised and SS payroll tax rates will be increased as well. What has to be done isn’t that complicated except for the political will to do the unpopular. Neither political party speaks candidly to the nation about realistic solutions for fear of alienating specific voting blocs.

What absolutely slays me is how any American considers the Republican Party the party of fiscal sanity or responsibility. What a joke. The Republican economic mantra—brayed long and loud—is “Cut taxes and job-killing regulations” for a stronger America. Kids, we’ve tried that and how’s that working out for you?

We deregulated Wall Street and banking (a big mistake Bill Clinton) and got the economic debacle of 2008. Bush 43 cut taxes, predominantly for the wealthiest Americans and here we are today coming out of a Republican-induced recession, and the GOP has the unmitigated gall to claim that if only, if only we cut taxes further and eliminated all those troublesome business regulations, all would be right as rain. Republicans, ironically enough, support taking government out of the boardroom yet think nothing of putting it in our bedrooms.

Again, how’s that Trickle Down Economics working for your family? Clean water? Clean air? A clean environment? At the expense of jobs? What? Are you un-American? Republicans would allow soot in our air and the deterioration of our water and call it progress.

We Americans should be slapped in the face for thinking so short term. Perhaps we have been collectively “slapped in the face” by this recent recession. We should be throwing the spear down the field ten or 15 years (minimum) and developing strategies for achieving long-term sustainable prosperity. Lifting the entrenched impoverished out of “their” circumstances has to be pursued (over decades) from a multi-generational approach. What will America be like once the bulge-in-the-python Boomer generation passes (by 2040)? Do we really need/require another 150-200 million Americans in the lower 48 states? How do you balance generational needs (education vs. healthcare for example)? Is it possible to have a sustainable economy that is environmentally green (healthy)? Could money spent on an imperial foreign policy (war) be better invested at home, in America?

Should we respect today’s Republican Party? Is there a “we” in their vocabulary that is inclusive of all Americans? Or, has the Republican Party devolved into “we” vs. “them?” You know, them—the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Once upon a time America stood for something besides the next quarterly earnings report. Remember.

Mitt Romney has been good at making money but it does not follow that he’d be good for America. Quite the contrary.

Is It The Stockholm Syndrome?

Gays, blacks and women. I cannot, for the life of me, comprehend why a gay man or a black woman or women, in general, would claim or want membership in the Republican Party? What is going on? What have Republicans the last 50 years represented that would have you as an African-American, gay or female identifying with them? I simply do not understand.

Depending on the specific state, anywhere from 85% to 96% of Republican Party affiliation is white. The Republican Party is the party of older, white, male America. Which is fine. All Americans have the right to associate with their like-minded brethren. I want it no other way. Such polarity, however, suggests underlining values that make the Republican Party exactly what it is, the party exclusively of old, white, straight America.

I am frankly stunned (SHOCKED!) that there is a group such as the Log Cabin Republicans purporting to represent the interests of gay and lesbian Republicans. Why belong to a political party so at odds with who you are as a human being? Not only at odds but aggressively militant (see GOP platform) in opposition to gay rights.

Oh, I imagine the indignant responses now, “Jepson, the gay and lesbian community is about more than just sexual identification.” Un-huh. As well we all should be. We all have issues (economy, environment, banking reform, etc.) that concern us but to belong to a political party that for the past several decades has vilified you and your “choices” begs the question, “Why?”

Whenever I witnessed African-Americans at the Republican convention (all six or seven blacks) I wondered are these individuals bereft of memory? Did they just fall off the bus (homage to Rosa Parks) that they do not recall President Nixon’s 1970 Sothern Strategy (see: Kevin Phillips) of picking-off disaffected Southern whites, disillusioned with the 1960s civil rights initiatives? It is a strategy still very much in play and one that has state Republicans nationwide attempting to suppress minority voter turnout. Shameful. As one critic observed about the oddity of black Republicans, “Isn’t that like black Klan members?” Harsh? Unfair? Tell me again the exact intent of Nixon’s Southern Strategy?

I wonder about the mindset of gay and African-Americans who identify with Republicans. I don’t get it. Anymore than I do with women, in general, who align their futures with the Republican Party. Again, for thousands of years men have run roughshod over women. It has only been in the last several generations that American women have achieved anything like equality with men. Someday historians will proclaim that one of the most significant developments of the entire 20th century was safe, effective and readily available birth control for women. It changed everything. Undeniably. Yet Republicans eagerly restrict your daughter’s fundamental right to control her own body and fertility.

I suggest the Stockholm Syndrome as an explanation as to why some women align themselves with Republican values. Drink the Kool-Aid long enough and you eventually do “embrace” the shackles that bind your thinking and limit your freedom. You end-up identifying with your oppressor. Yet, it can be different.

Join a better future and attend the Friday, September 7th (5:30 PM to 8:00 PM) grand opening of the Winter Park headquarters for the Re-election of Barack Obama. The Obama office is again in the Fountain Building, at the corner of Morse Boulevard and Denning. Jacqueline Jones and her quintet will be entertaining. Bring your enthusiasm and your checkbook.

Fits and Starts

I am of two minds when it comes to America. One is detached, analytical and historical based. I see America as part of a “continuum” that stretches back 2500 years to Greece. We are part of a Western European tradition and trajectory that—through fits and starts—pushed the “individual” to assert his rights (“life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”), to emancipate himself from the tyranny of either church or state (nation or tyrant).

I do feel a pride in our accomplishments. From an historical perspective, however, America was created out of a cauldron mixed with racism (slavery/Jim Crow) and genocide of Native Americans. That is fact. Yet, for two hundred years we have tried—again through fits and starts—to “level” the playing field so that all Americans may freely participate in our democracy and prosper from the fruits of their own labor. This has been a wrenchingly tough slog, particularly for America’s oppressed (minorities, women and impoverished). And, much unfinished business remains.

We all must recognize that nothing lasts forever. This includes nations, governments, even people. America has had a great ride, historically speaking. We (white people) were fortunate that North America was apart from Europe. Our ancestors settled a continent with incredible natural resources of fertile land, bountiful water and phenomenal mineral/energy deposits. Our Founding Fathers embraced Enlightenment ideals of deism, science and representative governance. Understand, of course, that what they established (the United States) counted blacks as three-fifths a human being and limited participation in our democracy to white men with property. That is our history.

And—through fits and starts—all white men eventually did achieve the right to vote. And after the Civil War, emancipated male slaves, too, achieved voting rights. Of course, Jim Crow was implemented and for the next 100 years it was much more a “paper” right than a “real” right. Is it not particularly perverse that our white ancestors gave the right to vote to emancipated male slaves decades before they considered women (their wives and daughters) worthy of that right?

We’ve arrived in 2012 a deeply divided, polarized nation. We have a long history of an evolving (expanding) democracy. Yet, arguably, we are not evolving as a nation, as a people. Many Americans are reactionary when it comes to religion, race, sexual orientation, nationalism/imperialism, progressive governance and the environment/climate. Some resistance to change is understandable. All of us, to varying degrees, want certainty in our lives. Yet, historically—through fits and starts—what was once thought unfathomable or unrealistic (women voting, eight-hour work day, environmental protections, Medicare, etc.) became reality because someone tilting at a windmill of injustice became many pursuing just that — a better, more just America.

Fits and starts. The Republicans are convening (in an angry fit) in Tampa and what we are viewing is a reactionary, last-gasp carnival of essentially older, whiter Americans who remember an America that never was and long for a future that will never be. They bark and bray about an America that has lost its way.

But it is “these” Republicans who are the wrong side of history. While I may dispassionately assess the state of America today (too reactionary, frightened and insecure), I do not despair. The Republican vision will not prevail long term.

The Republican Convention is just one of the many historical “fits” that has preceded yet another human start (step) forward.

You may weep while watching but do not lose hope. Buck-up Kiddos.

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