What is to Come

In our rush to fix all that is broken, it is possible to go too far. There is always that single step that will be over the line, where even the staunchest of allies will begin to look askance and turn away. Once taken, it is difficult to walk it back. I see this coming, where all the justified fury of decades, centuries even, will be lost as the righteous cause is hijacked by those with a different agenda or purpose.

The murder of George Floyd was the spark; however, it is the desired outcome that must resonate with all members of society. Believe me, it must be the majority, or that change will never happen. During the first Civil Rights fight, there were multiple small fights, each time more people were moved. The final straw then was Bull Conner, Birmingham, Alabama, the spring of 1963 and his attack on peaceful protesters. The pictures of police and dogs attacking men, women and children were shown on televisions and in print media across the world; finally, nobody could ignore the brutality of racism. Today we are at another crossroads with the majority finally saying something must change. Still, without a coordinated message, this surge will trickle out to nothing more than a sidebar in history.

The problem we have today, from my perspective, is one of ‘my way or the highway’ thinking. There is zero room for divergent thought or for questioning. To challenge is to be ostracized, quickly and very publicly. This new orthodoxy is narrow and frankly without depth. Instead of presenting real and actionable ideas, shutting down the distractions, each “leader” has their own plan and wants to be heard. They are grabbing the nearest microphone and without centralized counsel, they are defining their agenda and strategy, whether it is defunding police, new segregation, burning down cities among them.

Let me tell you what I see happening and what will be lost in the rush towards the great void.

Each time someone says, “Ban a Book,” it hurts my feelings, it depicts a new ‘bigotry.’ There are many Americans from all sectors of society who will consider this and say, “No, this is wrong.” Yet, for fear of being hated, of losing their job or being shunned, they will remain silent. Eventually, we will hold bonfires to the vanities of the few, burning books in the parking lots of libraries. We will look like the ignorant backward nation to the rest of the world. Still, we will satisfy the minority who refuse to accept different eras had different norms and we must look through the lens of time to fully understand our history.

Each time a statue is pulled down in the heat of the moment, though many might agree with the reasons they are still whispering, “No, this is wrong. There is a process for this.”  Yet, they remain silent, for fear of being shunned or shamed. It isn’t I don’t think those statues should come down, I know the history of them. I believe now is the time to teach civics and history, to show the nation and the world what Civil Rights and Jim Crow was, confederate-monument-protest-durham-ap-jt-170815_16x9_992what disenfranchisement did. I simply believe we are better served if we follow the lead of Mississippi and use the system.

Each time there is a demand to erase another name from buildings or elsewhere without consideration of who that person was, what the full contribution of their life was, I grow increasingly concerned. Oh don’t get me wrong, I read history I understand they were persons of their times, that is the point though, they lived in their time, not ours. Some had terrible world views, especially when placed in the prism of modern times. They were not ‘woke’ and did not act in accordance with today’s standards. But, I wonder how many of us could pass a purity test if our entire lives were examined? Maybe we should judge them in accordance with the standards of their time and not our own. We should start with specific statements of truth we can all agree upon then dive into where those men and women diverged and debate the moral and ethical issues based on their time and not their own.

I keep hearing we don’t teach history in our schools. That is true, we don’t teach accurate history in our public school systems. I think we should. I think we should show all of history, all of the good, bad and ugly of history. I don’t believe we should hide behind our desire to uplift or demonize. Let’s call things what they are and put them in historical context so we understand how we got here, thus raising young people who are capable of independent critical thinking. Maybe if we start telling the truth, start pointing out both the brilliance and the clay feet of those who came before us, we will stop being so damned hateful.

The truth, though, this virtue-signaling taking over the public square has to end. Suddenly everything is offensive; everything should be damned and banned? Suddenly books and movies should be banned because of their content; they offend you and you demand I be offended too. From Tom Sawyer to To Kill a Mockingbird, literature with historic relevance insults your sensitivities. You want to reverse Loving v. Virginia because you want to purify the race? You want enclaves of your own and are not book burningembarrassed to say you hate “White” people, God help a White person if they were to return the favor, actually, we know how that turns out.

So what is it really? What is the change that will begin to make right a society that has hundreds of years of systemic racism to correct? Surely it isn’t just a change to policing; while this is significant, it will not move us forward in any real or meaningful ways. Indeed, the real change should be a seat at the table to address more than just police brutality. It should be a plan to progress this nation forward, correct generational wealth disparities and access to opportunities in education, housing, jobs and business development. It should be a plan on how we are going to bring this nation together, not rip it further apart. The truth is if we continue down the path we are on now it will not get better, it will erode any and all progress made in the past 100 years.

Scheme of Things

In the grand scheme of things, nothing is right with the world today. Some of us know this, deep inside of ourselves, we know. Some of us guess it; something just doesn’t feel right. Some of us continue to believe everything will be alright, all we have to do is ignore the truth and believe in the fantasy, and the world will right itself without intervention. Those in the third group, they scare the hell out of me. They are conspiracy theorists, end-of-days evangelists, science deniers and other fringe hanger on’rs who will argue with the truth no matter how many facts are before them.

The world is tilted on its axis. White is Black with no shades of gray. Facts are Lies and not those little white lies we all tell sometimes, but boldfaced and easily fact-checked. Science is a conspiracy to lead fools astray, despite science once made this nation the greatest and most inspiring in the world. Nothing, not a single thing makes sense to those of us seeking something, anything to hang onto in a world seemingly out of control.

Our world is changing; it will affect how we exist going forward. None of us know what the change is only that it is coming. As we sit, isolated in our homes alone or with our family, we realize it will impact us, and it is at every single tier of our society. Most of us recognize finally that we have no control. We are all trying hard to wrap our arms and heads around what it all means, to our futures, our children’s future, and finally, our nation. If we are in the first two groups mentioned above, we know something is changing; nothing will be the same, we just don’t know what it means.

Oddly, we all keep asking when things will return to ‘normal’; I think the relevant question should be, what will our new normal be? Possibly even more importantly, who will determine what the new normal will be? Maybe we should also ask, what normal is it everyone is so eager to return to because I can think of several things right off the top of my head that was not so great. Then really, we should be asking, when the doors are finally flung open, and we return to whatever ‘normal’ is, will most of us actively participate or simply be shoved aside to survive as best we are able.

With millions of jobs lost, millions out of work, incomes lost and the potential of homes lost, savings and retirement lost, we are facing a depression far worse than the Great Depression of the 1930’s. The difference, this time the wealthy will keep their wealth and everyone else will fall further behind. This time the middle-class will entirely disappear and poverty will become a sliding scale of have not. This time, it will be bad, worse and terrifying. This time, instead of a nation coming together, standing together and trying together, we will be a nation split apart by distrust, partisan politics and pure unadulterated hate in some cases. Do not get me wrong, we certainly had some of that in the first Great Depression, but we also had pride and a common foe; we didn’t have the “wholehearted” look across the table at one another and see the enemy as we do today.

What will we do when the nation returns to ‘normal’?

Will we return to work as if nothing has happened to change the landscape of our nation? Will the thousands of small businesses shuttered through this pandemic suddenly reopen, rehire and begin working as if there was no break in their business operations? Will the restaurants and neighborhood bars, the lifeblood of many communities suddenly find the working capital to start up again? The barbershop or beauty shop on the corner unlock their doors to welcome their shaggy and disheveled customers back after weeks, if not months of self-service. We pay lip service, but do we truly understand all these business models and their operations? The truth is, most do not have deep pockets, most cannot wait it out and most will not reopen. The business landscape and that of our neighborhoods will be very different when finally we can go outside again. Our cities and small towns will look more like Detroit after the fall of the Auto Industry with shuttered windows and locked doors.

What will we do? With most families teetering on the edge of destitution, one paycheck away from complete forfeiture rather than the six months recommended with no real remedy on the horizon. In the near term, some people will receive help in the form of $1,200 from the government maybe a bit more if they had dependents on their taxes last year but there are loopholes. If you are furloughed you have access to unemployment, but as with the last recession, it will never be enough to keep you and your family afloat. In very real terms best case you live in a state that pays unemployment on a sliding scale that considers dependents, the most you can expect is:

  • Alaska – $442 w/dependents
  • Connecticut – $724 w/dependents
  • Illinois – $667 w/dependents
  • Iowa – $591 w/dependents
  • Maine – $667 w/dependents
  • Massachusetts – $1,234 w/dependents
  • Michigan – $362 w/dependents
  • Ohio – $647 w/dependents
  • Pennsylvania – $580 w/dependents
  • Rhode Island – $867 w/dependents

If you are furloughed, you have no access to vacation pay. You cannot cash out your diminished 401K, but you have those paltry unemployment funds to look forward to and foreclosure-1-1your employer can honestly say you are still an employee. You, on the other hand, will have to choose between food on the table, the roof over your head and maybe something else of equal importance. Maybe you can bargain with your bank, your creditors might make a deal with you, but you will have a steep hill to climb when you finally go back to work. Ruined credit, high-interest rates and big first payments to catch up.

What will we look like as a nation when this is over and we fling the doors wide and step outside? Will our nation be kinder? Will we be gentler as a people? I wishfully keep thinking maybe, but all indications say it is only going to get worse, crueler, more hyper-partisan.

The era of expertise is finally dying under the weight of Coronavirus. The age of intelligent and thoughtful debate has seen its last breath. Though long dead as a legal rule, the Fairness Doctrine is now finally and fully taken its last gasp as a philosophical standard in reporting, no longer can we trust any source of coverage.

I have only this when a man or woman tells you who they are; believe them. Believe what comes out of their mouth as the truth. No need for clean up or analysis. We are suffering the truth of who we have elected to every office across this land. It is not just the Presidency; it is every office Federal, State and Local. If this is the nation we want, we got it. Our incompetence, disinterest and failure to participate got us to this point. We own all of it. If we want something better than this, we the people of this nation best rise up and take part in the recovery.

Normal? What the hell is normal? Do any of us genuinely want to return to where we were? In the grand scheme of things, we don’t have much time to fix what we all had a part in breaking.

Morphing through the Ages

I was recently spanked and I deserved it, I can sometimes forget my manners. Politics and religion brings out the very worst in even the best of us and I am far from the best as I recently proved. Though I apologized to the person I offended, I have been thinking about my terribleness since then and mentally kicking myself. I admit I am opinionated, highly opinionated if truth were told, but it has only been recently that I have found myself also being partisan or at least more partisan than is my wont when it comes to party politics.

Maybe it is time I clear the air. Not to defend myself but to put things on the table, allow things to be known about what I really think. In fact how I have always thought.

In 1975, when I turned 18 I registered to vote. I registered as an Independent. I have always considered myself a Progressive rather than a Democrat or a Liberal; I am certainly not a Socialist. There are many things within the Democratic platform over the years I have vehemently disagreed with and spoken out against. There are clearly things over the past few years especially within the Republican platform I have taken issue with, spoken out against sometimes insultingly so. With this in mind I thought I would kick myself a few times and go searching for why I am such an azzhat these days, what has caused me to become such stickler, you know so partisan in my views that I offend my friends with my intensity.

One thing I considered is I have changed, I know this is true. I have gotten older, but I feared I had truly changed and was incapable of hearing or seeing beyond my own personal views and considerations. The other thing I considered is our political environment and parties had changed so much there was no room for debate or civility any longer. I feared my ability to be respectful and loving was falling by the wayside when certain issues that squeezed my heart caused my humor and normal pragmatism to take a very quick walk to the darkside.

So, with that in mind I thought I would do a bit of research. Look at the parties, their platforms and the changes to them since 1900. What happened? What were the key hiccups? Where did they trade, what did they trade and ultimately who did they sell their souls to? Ultimately I can tell you what I believe and why I believe it, I can tell you what I want and why. I do not care what party offers it to me; I will pull the lever for the person who best represents my values. We are stuck with exactly what our Founding Fathers warned us against, a two party system that represents nothing and nobody but a small number of very wealthy corporations and their leaders. That at least is what I believe.

All of us, we align with a Party that somewhat, sorta, maybe kinda represents some of our ideals. Not all of our ideals mind you, just some of them. Whether these are the Social Ideals or the Economic Ideals, doesn’t really matter they are just the ones we think are the important Ideals. We identify the Party that says they will fix what we believe is broken –

  • Republican Party
  • Tea Party
  • Green Party
  • Democratic Party
  • Socialist Party
  • Libertarian Party

Once we identify with them we simply pin them with our hopes, align our ideals with them. In some cases we stop looking at the problems, we stop listening to what the candidates are saying or looking at the voting records of those elected to office under those party banners. Those are our guys and gals and by damned they can do no wrong! No matter what they do, no matter what crime they commit, no matter what moral lines they cross we will pull the lever and put them in office again and again. Hell, in some cases we will lionize them, make them national heroes (Ted Kennedy).

We have affectively created an oligarchy. We have affectively handed over the people’s power and failed in our duty to future generations.

Over the next few weeks in between beating the tar out of all those running for public office as they open mouth and insert foot, I am going to run a new series as a result of my research into the changes in both parties since 1900. The intent is to look at the official Platforms of the Parties, as well as, keynote speeches of the Presidents during this time. I hope you will join me on my journey.

I won’t promise not to offend in the future. I suspect I will, though I will try to keep in mind there are those I care for on the all sides of political spectrum. My vehemence, my passion comes only from my great love of nation and my great fear for our future. Feel free to spank me, when I go too far.

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