Tag Archives: vision

Telling the Truth: Political Realities, Part 3

People and politicians (who are the elected subset of “the people”) are full of contradictory feelings and ideas. The tendency to overgeneralize and universalize is rampant. Who speaks for “the people?” Why are we so quick to opine on what African Americans, Hispanics, White Blue Collar folks, Evangelicals, Women and even LGBTQ folks think on any and every subject? If we are going to engender consensus on vital issues and chart a prosperous future for America and the world, we must end such facile thinking and begin to regard people with more respect and expect more of the political leaders elected and supported by the people.

Each person capable of moral action and self-reflection is unique. This does not mean they are disconnected and do not share beliefs and qualities of particular groups. America’s founders understood the tensions between individual liberty and the common good, between public service and political factions. Some of the founders and framers hoped there would never be political parties, just gentleman (few could foresee the female franchise) farmers and citizens serving for a season and returning to work after their public service was complete.

This idyllic vision quickly gave way to parties and philosophies competing for voters’ attention. By itself, two or more parties are not bad for the public, provided all parties and people share enough common virtues for social cohesion.

For 2016 and beyond, catering to constituencies must take second place to framing a vision and set of values that people of many backgrounds can embrace. This is much more than a “big tent” ethos or chanting, “we have something for everyone.” Such pandering has led to the severe challenges we face today.

Progress begins with personal character being more important than perceived competencies or charisma. Back in the 1820s, a member of Congress wrote a letter back to a disgruntled constituent: “You elected me for my moral character and sound judgment, not to procure public resources.” Imagine politicians saying to the voters, “You cannot have everything you want from the hands of government.” If this kind of integrity is united with a spiritual awakening, there is hope for America and the world.

Telling the Truth: Political Realities, Part 1

Every Presidential election in the USA is important and 2016 is no exception. Economic uncertainly, global and local Islamic enemies, racial tensions, immigration debates and the values and visions of our future are all part of the mix. Conservatives feel more alienated every day, with uncontrollable federal (and some cases state and local) deficits, attacks on free speech and gun ownership and a militarized EPA declaring almost every private puddle a protected watershed. Progressives are frustrated by the lack of enthusiasm for global governance on climate change and the stubborn refusal of millions to see the light on abortion and alternative sexual identities and lifestyles.

The conservative and progressive lists above are, of course, generalizations – written to call attention to the hot button issues.

Telling the truth means that facile opining, straw man arguments and exaggeration must yield to critical thinking, examination of foundational values and principled compromise that produces proximate justice on the way to a preferred future. This will not be easy in a culture used to bumper sticker wisdom and sound bite debates.

Our “ADD” culture is not used to careful listening and critical thinking. In 2008 millions voted for “Hope and Change” and even said, “I pledge!” with little idea of the ramifications of President Obama’s radicalism and post-American global vision. Facile reflection is not the preserve of the Left. Conservatives salivate at the sound of military drums or pro-life slogans, but often turn a blind eye to cronyism and rapacious environmental policies.

How about “I pledge…to read the Constitution, study the local and national issues and demand accountability from elected officials.” That is a pledge worth making, regardless of party or positions.

Courage and Grace: The Morning After 2014

Once again, midterm elections humble an incumbent President. Since 1938, almost all midterms bring favorable gains to the party outside the White House. Apart from an idiotic editorial in the New York Times calling for the elimination of midterm elections, what does this mean for America during the next two years…and beyond?

The drubbing of the Democrats in the House and Senate means little if the Republicans cannot articulate a fresh vision for America’s future that is inclusive and inspiring, passionate and principled. In my next essay on this sight, I will present one of my most important posts ever: “Vision 2016.” It is vital that clear and courageous directions are offered with sincere attempts at bipartisan cooperation. The “ether/or” polarization of the past six years must yield to integrity and statesmanship as we forge a preferred future.

Moral courage and political grace is needed, with Republicans adopting a principled and practical agenda that will benefit America for generations, not just secure the next election. There are four things that I hope ‘the morning after’ will bring:

First, a willingness to bring all legislation to the floors of both houses of Congress. The more the people know about the debates over pending bills the better for our democratic ethos. Harry Reid’s refusal to bring bills forward must change. Oh, and by the way, the lawmakers should actually read the bills before debate and passage!

Second, The House must give leadership to fiscal stewardship of public monies, reversing the last 50 years of White House control of the budget. It is time for federal financial matters to originate from their Constitutional source while challenging the Senate and White House to real negotiations over how our money is spent.

Third, President Obama’s judicial nominees deserve thorough scrutiny for both their ideology and legal records. When it comes to lifetime appointments, our nation needs better appointees.

Fourth, the spirit and tone of Republican communication must be civil and compassionate, firm on principles and flexible on some details. Republicans must learn the art of winning hearts as well as minds, garnering emotional support as well as being “right.” People of all classes and cultures want a better future for the next generation.

The next two years are the greatest test for the American Experiment in virtue-based liberty since the era of the Civil War. Will we reaffirm our first principles and articulate a fresh vision that inspires our nation/ Or will we continue on our present trajectories of anarchy, dysfunction and polarization? May we choose courage and grace and forge a better tomorrow for generations yes unborn.