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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Why The Tea Party Is Not The Answer

Before I go forward, let me make clear two points. First, I am not an opponent of the Tea Party movement or its candidates, I agree with some of their views and I disagree with some of their views. Also, I believe there are some Tea Party candidates that would make very good candidates in state and national offices.

This said, however, I am convinced that the Tea Party is not the answer to fixing the political problems that exist in the United States today. If you really drill down into the Tea Party and examine their candidates objectively, you'll find that they really don't differ from the two major parties. Too many of their candidates only differ from the "establishment" candidates in some of their political beliefs. Like Democrats and Republicans, many (if not most) of the Tea Party candidates are hypocritical and corrupt.

Assorted Tea Party candidates have lied about their education (Delaware), employment (Colorado), use of unemployment (Alaska), etc. Others have engaged in divisive campaigning, pitting groups against one another. Too many have demonstrated a lack of understanding (or misunderstanding) of the Constitution, the views of our founders and the ills of the early America they so passionately want to return to (Delaware, Alaska, Florida). Some have bordered on racist (Nevada, Arizona). Too many rail against the evils of unrestrained government while completely ignoring the evils of unrestrained corporate greed.

Too many have been hesitant to share their political views in a clear and open manner, avoiding anything but the most supportive media in their attempt to hide their real views from political analysis. Too many are simply running to "defeat Obama." Too many have pushed the political landscape away from the middle (where most Americans stand) to the extremes. Too many believe compromise is an evil and corrupt process.

And like the mainstream politicians of the Democratic and Republican parties, too few provide actual plans for how they'll accomplish their objectives. There are no detailed plans as to what programs should be cut. Like the two parties, there is no meaningful conversation about the need to sacrifice (at all income levels, individuals and businesses) to solve the nations problems.

In the end, while they may bring some fresh ideas and a fervent passion to these leadership positions, I don't see them actually effecting real change. I don't see a difference in the level of honesty, character, leadership or trust among Tea Party candidates as I see in the candidates of the two major parties. Like those before them, they will govern for the benefit of themselves and their major financial backers.

It will take a much more fundamental change in the attitudes and character of the American people than just changing who represents us in government to effect real change, but that recognition has not yet taken hold among the general population. It will only happen when we recognize that our leaders reflect our character as a people and that we are responsible for changing our nation (from the bottom up), not our government (from the top down).

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Rights? What About Responsiblities?

Americans are well versed on their rights. Just ask and you'll find that nearly everyone is an expert in their Constitutional rights...and even some that aren't in the Constitution. Interfere with somebody's effort to do something and see how soon they explain to you what their rights are. And we are fortunate that we live in a country where we have enumerated individual rights like freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, freedom to vote, etc. However, this is only 1/2 of the citizenship equation and one to which an unbalanced amount of attention is given by most Americans.

In our self-centered focus on our rights as an individual, we too often forget that we also have responsibilities as citizens. The only way a civilized nation can succeed and survive is if everybody accepts the compact which binds people into nationhood. Every citizen has the responsibility to be a good citizen. In the United States this includes many things but I believe the following are among the most important.

One, we have the responsibility to participate intelligently in the governance of our nation. The most visible aspect of this is voting. Personally, I believe if you don't vote, you lose you're right to complain....and nearly 1/2 of Americans abdicate this responsibility each election.

Two, we have a responsibility to pay our fair share of the cost of providing the essential services necessary to keep the nation safe and operating efficiently. While "fair share" can be a political debate, far too many people purposely work to avoid paying their fair share. Tax cheats ought to face severe penalties...perhaps even the loss of citizenship.

Three, we have a responsiblity to recognize that everybody else has the same rights as we do and to understand that means rights will sometimes collide. That means we must be willing to occasionally forgo our individual rights for the good of the larger society. You often hear people say "it isn't all about me", but we need to more often live this truth.

Perhaps politics and culture would be less contentious today if we spent less time worrying about our individual rights and spent more time focused on the responsibilities of citizenship.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Which Candidates Should Be Disqualified

The 2010 elections are poised to be among the most contentious in our nations' history. There are some good candidates, some bad candidates and some just outrageous candidates. There are a multitude of issues upon which people vote, any of which can swing a voter for or against that candidate. But one issue should automatically disqualify a candidate from earning your vote.

That issue? The movement of American jobs overseas. Any candidate running for office who has the creation of jobs as one of their principle campaign issues but has participated in the elimination of American jobs to increase corporate profits by moving jobs overseas should automatically be disqualified from your consideration. We have a candidate running for Congress in Kansas who is running on his ability to create jobs, but he has a proven history of outsourcing jobs to foreign nations. Connecticut also has a candidate who switched a contract from an American company to a foreign supplier. Similar situations are known to exist elsewhere in the country.

These candidates have failed to prove that they will work for the ordinary American worker and in fact have shown themselves a threat to the American workforce. How can candidates who have personally benefitted from closing American production facilities in favor of foreign facilities be trusted to work in the interest of those whose jobs are in jeopardy or have already been lost?

It's time to send a loud and clear message to American business leaders and our political representatives that this issue is non-negotiable. If you have sent American jobs to other nations you are fundamentally unfit to represent the people in the halls of government.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Where Did Our Nation Go? What Did I Miss?

I'm back after a lot of summer distractions including my summer vacation with my daughters, an expansion of my job (more travel) and working a second job. But, thankfully, I'm back just in time for the final push in the 2010 elections.

Perhaps the most common theme you hear from candidates this year is their commitment to "take back our country!" I have just one question about this: where did it go and who took it? I mean, I know I've been very busy and distracted, but did I really miss our country being take from us?

Were we conquered by a foreign power, perhaps Mexico, Canada or Iran? Or was a monarchy installed while I wasn't looking? Did somebody stuff it in their pocket and walk off with it?

Of course the answer to all these questions is an emphatic NO! The whole notion is absurd. This nation is still a nation of laws ruled by the Constitution. We remain the place people from around the world want to come to. We still select our own leaders in relatively safe and secure elections. We still have ALL the freedoms included in the Constitution. We still have one of the highest standards of living in the world. Our children are not slaves to a foreign leader nor do we pledge allegiance to an overseas power. In total, we are still a sovereign nation beholden to no other nation.

You can't take something back that is already yours and in your possession. Certainly we are divided and disagreeable politically at the moment, but it isn't the first time in our history that has been the case. The question is whether we will fare better than Civil War by coming together or continue to march down the road of division until we destroy ourselves from within.