A Politics for U.S.

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“If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide.” – Abraham Lincoln

Politics runs through all we do. This humanest of conditions is no less admirable nor abhorrent today than ever but it has become a reviled element of society, commonly viewed as beneath polite discussion.  However ignored or deified, the consequences of politics and the subsequent political reality still fall on the informed and uninformed alike.  Cast into the shadows, as a snowy Denver sidewalk encumbrance, politics evolves. It forms in the darkness for the inevitable prestige.

The human invention of our political system has become a degradation.  We cursed ourselves the day rational, passionate, Political belief became a social taboo.  Fear and emotional instability have bestowed us with the gift that is our present state of political affairs.

Contradictions abound as the unknown unknowns mount and even those with driver’s licenses don’t vote with any exuberance.  Genuine individuality bows to the perpetually offended; disintegrated integrity and the stranger dignity invigorate public discourse and rhetoric. It was simply an inevitability that opportunists like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton would move to the forefront of American politics.

Politics demands we get the leaders we deserve.

As the daily attack ads, emotionally-driven controversies and all over jackassery ensue, average citizens engage in the field as would-be political scientists and the truth disintegrates into a subjective force.  Emails warn of disarmed militias, women baking again while foregoing careerhood, #alllivesmatterexceptyoursbecauseyouhavestuff, y’all back in chainz, and virtual canine genocide.  In the midst of this remember: Obama came, he will go and we remain. For now.  And we have the critical task of electing one of “our own” to lead.  This person will undoubtedly transform our global future for years beyond the given term(s). Several Supreme Court Justices will surely vacate those seats, ISIS will force a reckoning and the domestic political divide will continue as it does.

And Politics demands we get the leaders we deserve.

Find a presidential candidate that does just that. Presidential activities, leader of the free world and so forth.  International relations, global power, military action and foreign policy are dominant at the executive level and these are the activities that require the action of a president.  Congress deals in legislation and the president does submit a budget that is regularly ignored.  Leadership on a global scale, not the status of local Planned Parenthoods or the activities of the NRA matter to a legitimate Commander in Chief.

Single social issues superficially simplify the process but do not constitute a legitimate cause for concern on a presidential level… for the most part.  Abortion, gay marriage, legal weed, gun rights, et. al., etc., etc.  As with any third rail of american politics, these issues see various changes at the margins but concentrated interests, the Supreme Court and states rights will drive change.  Presidents are rather limited as to the power and, quite simply, time or effort it takes to garner enough support to take our guns, outlaw pot again or see abortion doctors behind bars.

Focus on the iceberg, not the taste of the champagne: an economy subsisting on disgruntled foreign labor, discouraging domestic enterprise while falsely and faultily making financial promises for the future feasibility of me, you and Uncle Sam cannot long last.

Our houses, shops, parks and local amusements, both public and private, are regulated and taxed on a local level much more so than by the good folks in Washington. These bureaucracies employ thousands of workers that you never voted for and yet establish and enforce public policy.  Engage with local elections, school boards and the men and women making decisions that affect life on a day-to-day basis; literally in the front yard.

If nothing else: learn who represents you!  Local and federal senators and representatives; governor, mayor, Supreme Court, etc.

Because Politics demands we get the leaders we deserve.

Personally, I’ve disagreed with everyone I have ever met on at least 16% of all things concerning life, the universe and everything.  Applying that same basic ratio to presidential candidates means that my very best, ideal, perfect, have-my-cake-and-eat-it-too, top hat, friendly joke telling, baby-kissing, karate-chopping, concealed-carrying, Chuck Norris of a candidate would still piss me off about 16% of the time!  May not seem like much, but over eight years, that’s quite a bit for someone I “agree with.”

Think on the political parties as teams with ever-changing players.  They are no longer established members with a rigid set of core beliefs.  Parties tend to start that way then diffuse as the tent expands.  Republicans and Democrats need strong, devoted members just as the Broncos strong players.  Whether or not we get a one-in-a-million or a dime-a-dozen depends in part on the decisions and focus of the other members of these teams but no matter what happens next year or next season, players and politicians must play ball.  Ideology is about ideas, politics is about winning elections.

Political teams are not friendly adversaries. They have and always will exist as ideological rivals engaged in allegorical combat in the realm of ideas for the collective destiny of free-thinking (and unthinking) people everywhere.  Active and opposing discourse is healthy and ought be encouraged as soon as children can speak (along with gun safety.)  Opposing ideas will be brought forth and a republican-style government will enact or reject reform.

Rational, legal, AND compassionate conversations (ugh!) will occur when we define terms and establish goals.  We then begin to address economic issues and potentially avoid our own Greek tragedy.

The system is designed to work slowly, painstakingly at times, in order to avoid sweeping reforms and declarations such as offering mass amnesty to all immigrants or interning lifelong American citizens.  The modern politician makes a living off the exploitation of the ignorance of the populace on this very issue.  Claims of a “do-nothing congress” or “playing politics” are meant to give the impression that but for the actions of the inept and insane political opposition, the nation would be a better place.

All would be fixed if the plain-bellied Sneetches would do what their star-bellied counterparts know is best.

Come together for the good of the country!

Won’t somebody think of the children?!?

Ideological differences are rooted in fundamentally opposing views on nature and the human condition (see Sowell’s work “A Conflict of Visions”.)  Fundamental beliefs on authority and perfection on Earth clash.  Clarity and substance fade as rhetoric increases.  Each side openly admires aspects of Lincoln, Kennedy, the Roosevelts and Reagan, as leaders to emulate and claim that those historical and ideological powerhouses would support whatever cause du jour happens to be on the docket today.

The nature of human history is penduluminous. All apotheosized feelings of pride regarding enlightened achievement trudge forth, shackled to the omnipresent defects of human character.  Such shortcomings then serve as the basis of ideological opposition or critique; and every politically platitudinous bromide.  The elephant and donkey enhance the perception of the other as politicians stumble through words to make us believe we need them.

And Politics demands we get the leaders we deserve.

Black, white whatever, Politics is interested in you.  Pick a side, join a team and come in for the big win.  We need devoted Constitutionalists and the opposition parties.  Care about the right, the future and your own place at this point in history, blessed to be a part of the most benevolent of superpowers the world has ever known.  Learn about more than the impassioned hysteria of the New York Times or Fox News and know that you will never agree with anyone on everything but that the perfect ought not be the enemy of the pretty darn good.

If you want a candidate that fits all your needs, see a priest. For the good of those of this world however, inform yourself and vote.

“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

– Luke 20:25, NASB

I Side With…

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On both sides of the spectrum, the gaps are being filled (and then some for Republicans) with potential nominees for the upcoming presidential election of 2016.  Can’t wait for the TV ads to start a-rollin’!! (Insert disgusted groan)

The Democrats are running with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, with Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren still kinda, sorta, maybe on the fence, but only if our country needs them.

The Republicans seem to think we need them desperately, all of them.  Social issues conservatives, a doctor, a TV personality tycoon, fiscal reformers along with tried and true (and previously failed) men and women.

More will be written, both here, there and everywhere, regarding these folks and the election in general.  But for starters, I wanted to share and interesting source for information on the issues and the candidates as they currently stand.

Take this rather thorough quiz at the following site:

https://www.isidewith.com/elections/2016-presidential-quiz

It will match you with current candidates from both parties.

Congress At Home

Disapproval with Congress Begins and Ends in the Home

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The solution to the discontent…

One has to wonder about the purpose behind the consistent polling asking Americans about overall trust in their elected leaders.  It seems to be a futile endeavor analogous to a game of limbo where the pollsters are asking “HOW LOW CAN YOU GO?” set to a crazy mambo beat.  The only interesting tidbit to arise from these polls is that there are still some potential voters who approve of congress.  This number tends toward the low double digits but, nevertheless, what is it that these optimists find so commendable about our feckless “leaders”?

As to the overall approval numbers, the mystery remains.  I gather that some people, basking in the proverbial bliss of ignorance, agree with very specific, partisan driven actions taken by one party that promotes an ideology similar to their own.  Perhaps we have found that 15% of people have the inability to say no.  Either way, it is an open ended mystery that remains.

Specific to the approval numbers (or rather mass disapproval) is the view that voters hold of individual representatives versus the congress as a whole.  Congressional incumbents are consistently reelected.  Elections are held every two years reassuring these pillars of society, on a regular recurring basis, that their leadership is invaluable and that it is everyone else in congress that is the problem.  How can it be personal if a senator or representative was just reelected to a 36th term in office?

Bottom line is that voters approve of the individual reps from the location in which they reside, as long as those reps belong to the appropriate political party and share the appropriate positions on the appropriate issues.  This is the case in the vast majority of districts represented in congress.  Due to various redistricting methods by both parties, few house districts are actually competitive in the sense that both parties must fight for votes.  Democrats have their urban strongholds and republicans have the dependable rural bastions and/or suburbs.  If the voters in a particular area are dominated by either conservatives or liberals then there is no doubt as to the predictability of the outcome in said location come election day.  And to a great extent, this is as it should be.  People deserve to be represented by those who reflect their own ideals.

The other side is, when you have repeatedly voted in members of congress who supposedly act upon certain ideals, at what point do those ideals become the source of disapproval?  Is it the person or ideology?  The answer is neither in the case of present day politics.  It is the other guy and the other ideology that is the source of all discord and misery.  This is how incumbents maintain a 90%+ reelection rate and yet congress maintains an approval rating of 15%.  Voters are convinced that responsibility and fault lie within the distant capital and that the votes that they continue to cast represent a rebellion against the grain rather than business as usual.

As long as disinterest in both local and national elections continues, due to feelings of frustration and general impotence, whoever goes to Washington will do what they do as they have always done.  Political candidates must be compelled to communicate to voters about why those voters should care about political candidates and the elections in which they run.  It is then up to the voters to find those people who will act according to the constitutional principles by which they are limited and charged, and encourage them to run for political office.  Such candidates will be able to challenge any dysfunctional incumbents or at least compel the sitting representatives to justify their continued existence as representatives.  The good ones will be able to provide a record of service and place it before the voters come election day.

Reflect (or discover for the first time ever) upon who represents your area.  Your district, state, school board, dog catcher etc.  Empower yourself with the knowledge that you control whether or not these people continue to work for you, and for the rest of us.  In some cases, the tough reality is that the problem lies in the disengagement that starts at home.  It has festered for too long.  The beauty here is that such decisions need not be fatal.  Change, real change can occur with new elections.

But nothing changes if nothing changes.

The Political Spectrum Part 2: Musical Chairs

Changing the Spectrum

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The traditional political spectrum places ideologies, and their corresponding parties, in between identical extremes: absolute control by a centralized state, i.e. totalitarianism on the left and authoritarianism on the right.  This traditional view ostensibly assigns differing attributes to the same statist control of a National Socialist state and of a Communist state.  The space between these two ideologies spans virtually the entire spectrum and yet, the de facto methods of governance under such regimes represents a distinction without a difference.  Basically, for all of the particulars in the middle, traveling to either end of the traditional spectrum finds that each end culminates the same way.  No matter what ideology, if taken to the extreme, ends in total control by the state.

This perspective creates a sense of balance to the ideological universe and has an underlying moralistic warning to boot: the danger of devotion to ideological extremes.  Another interesting aspect is the lack of the anarchist or minimalist vision (or lack thereof) of government.  With all-powerful state control enveloping all other in-between ideologies, there is not room for a vision representing no government at all.   Moreover, there are ideologies, while widely separated on the spectrum, that have much in common and some closer together that have much less.  As a visual aide in explaining ideological differences, the traditional spectrum of political visions leaves a bit to be desired.

So, how better to situate the differing ideas permeating modern political thought?

Where do the ideas of the past sit in relation to these ideas?

***A thoroughly examined and consistently logical approach has been described by Craig Biddle of the Objective Standard.  I highly recommend his article, and the site as well.  

Instead of the inconsistent mess of the left and right spectrum, housing socialists and national socialists at different ends, an altogether restructured approach categorizes similar ideologies together.  This is as it should be.  This approach can vary and actually create alternate spectrums that have slightly different criteria: one based upon individual rights and one on the limits of governmental power.

THE SPECTRUM OF INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS- In terms of the protection or violation of individual rights, rights violating ideologies that utilize extreme force are placed on the far left and the most protective ideologies are on the far right.  According to this idea, a very small centrally focused system could still be extremely controlling and violate the rights of its citizens while a system with a massive national defense can still prize and protect individual liberty.  Ideologies are situated based upon how free the citizens are to interact, trade, engage in business and religion, and so on.  Statists are next to statists on the spectrum, regardless of their titles.  Commies and Nazis together at last.

In fairness, in case my bias in favor of this approach is too glaring, a valid criticism of this view might be that groups with special interests often attempt (and succeed) to utilize government as a tool in “preserving” rights.  It might not be long before an erosion of the respect for individual rights takes a back seat to the common good.  This would create the illusion of individual rights with subversive state control.  (See Germany circa 1933)

THE SPECTRUM OF LIMITED GOVERNMENTAL POWER-  The size and scope of government as reflected by an ideology has a direct bearing as to where that ideology is situated on this spectrum.  The more influence and control that the state has, the more expansive the government.  A strong federal system would be placed further left and total anarchy would be about as far right as possible with little or no state control.  A problem with this view is that government could be strong in certain areas and still promote the safety and rights of its citizens.  National defense is an example of a role that really only a strong government can play.  This requires “larger” government in terms of size and money but does not necessarily mean that there is more control over the citizenry.

And so it goes…

At this point you may be thinking that all of this specificity is about as intriguing as the prospect of rearranging your sock drawer.  If your eyes have glazed over, shake it off and remember the fundamental point:  all of this is meant as a tool.  Any political spectrum is merely a means to the end of discovering more about political thought and how the different systems relate to one another.  Ideas and opinions change. (or “evolve” to borrow the phrase du jour)  Answer these questions about yourself: what truly matters and how do you feel about the issues of the day?  The ideologies will reveal themselves.  They are simply the coating, the name given to the deeper body of ideas that drive the changes made, for better or worse, within our political system.  Once you identify with an ideology, the manner of proper governance becomes clear.

The Political Spectrum Part 1- Finding a Place to Sit

The Traditional Spectrum 

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The opposing parties, factions and ideologies that create the implemented policies of every governmental system are as necessary an evil as ever there was.  The rule of an “infallible” leader has dominated much of history, as seen with the divine right of kings and today in brutal North Korea.  China has attempted to govern through collective leadership with collective (or state) ownership of property.  Direct democracy was in place in ancient Greece.  The United States is often referred to as a democracy when in fact we have a representative republic, with elected officials creating policy instead of the direct approach where all citizens vote on all issues.

“The effect of [a representative democracy is] to refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of the nation….”

-James Madison.

Each approach to governing is endowed with certain attributes.  They all possess similarities and differences and when placed together form what is known as a political spectrum.  This spectrum can help anyone looking at the various ideologies to discern the distinctions and determine where one sits among the vast array of thoughts being thunk.

A political spectrum is a classification of existing ideologies that visually demonstrates how these perspectives relate, ideologically speaking, to one another. The centrist or moderate points of view are positioned in the middle of the spectrum while the more radical views, as in ideologically driven, lay on the ends of either the left or right.  Hence the phrases left and right wing, radical left and radical right.

In my experience, most people are not ideologically driven.  They work, have fun and know about issues that are perceived to directly affect their families.  There is not much investigation as to where their stance on those issues places them in terms of ideology or why they should care.  However, that is not to say that people are devoid of greater opinion or principle.  Principles, beliefs and opinions all correspond to specific ideologies. Views held on economic issues, like free versus controlled markets, or social issues, like abortion or same-sex marriage, are all categorized by these belief systems.  People who have never connected the dots from an opinion to a specific belief system still share or oppose views held by the most ideologically driven members of their shared society.

So where do these beliefs position an individual along the spectrum of ideas?  The distinct political parties and leaders the world over are all a part of groups that subscribe to one ideology or another, sometimes parts of two or more.  These groups, and the corresponding ideology(ies) are situated on the political spectrum and like-minded individuals can determine in whose company they keep.  Sometimes knowing who it is that shares a certain ideology can drive people to or from a specific line of thinking.

Side Note, for example, the slur ‘nazi’ is thrown around as a political epithet, meant to imply that a political opponent is evil, immoral, without conscience, a potential hate-monger, killer and genocidal maniac; a really bad guy.  The power of the word ‘nazi’ is that it embodies all of these negative attributes, without ever identifying them specifically.  The nazi ideology is so powerful, so evil, that the name is all that is needed.  This is the significance of an ideology.-

Using the traditional perspective (see Part 2 for alternate views on the perspective of a political spectrum) the two major political parties in the United States are: the modern Republican party, situated on the right and the Democratic party on the left.  (How far in either direction requires an open mind and an objective outlook.  In politics, these attributes can be in short supply.  They are rarely spotted as a pair.)   For sanity’s sake we can place them like this: Communism on the extreme left and Democrats left of center.  Fascism sits on the extreme right and Republicans are right of center.

 

As the ideologies stretch further right and left the groups transform into more rigid, radical belief systems.  This is evidenced at the far end of the left with the placement of Communism and the far right with Fascism.  Depending on one’s voting record, it can be established where one sits in relation to these distinct groups.  If no voting record exists then the degree to which one shares or disagrees with the principles and policy decisions of these groups can establish placement on the spectrum.

This is a very simplistic explanation.  It is my attempt to help discover where you will be situated now that you have decided to take a seat.  This information will inform you about policies and candidates in your community.  Identification helps inform and increases understanding.  The disengaged electorate is due, in part, to a lack of understanding which leads to a lack of interest.  However, the information provided here is just the beginning.

The minimal examples given are relevant to the United States and have a great deal of historical notoriety.  However, do not be limited by an association with only major groups.  When voting, the two party system dominates but ideology is another matter.  There are literally hundreds of groups that stake out a place on the spectrum.  Some are very fringe groups that do not deserve more than a passing glance by rational people (like yourself).  Others possess appealing alternatives and subtle nuances to the major ideas of the day.  Explore what fits, what is right.  As with jeans, when they fit they fit.  When they don’t, it may be tough to describe the problem, but something just ain’t right.

Now, make way for me to throw a wrench…

All of this is not to say that the traditional political spectrum is completely sound.  It does come with a certain degree of contradiction that will be explored in Part 2.  The traditional political spectrum allows for a basic view on how much the same groups differ from one another but it does not adequately (in this writer’s most humble opinion) address the groups in the context of government as a whole.  As history has shown, both communist and fascist governments have been guilty of significant violations of individual rights.  Both are examples of a significant size, scope and role of government in the lives of citizens.  With these commonalities, how is it that these groups are classified as opposites on the traditional political spectrum?

FINALIZED IN PART 2

Sit Before You Stand

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When the United States was still a nascent creation, the political was the realm of the learned, the influential, those of means, along with y chromosomes.  This elite citizenry comprised the only members of society who geld the power to both grasp the issues of the day and determine the course that the nation would take, carefully measuring the ramifications of possible outcomes.  The fragile existence of the country lay with these men.  Today, most Americans hold these men in the highest regard as the founders of our great nation.

Also today, any information on any issue is just a mouse click away.  Any subject ever conceived can be discovered and discussed; yet when it comes to the political realm, it is still undiscovered, misinterpreted or dangerously ignored by the masses.  The difference today is startling because whereas the engagement in politics used to be a privilege, today it is a subject longing to be studied by the citizens whose lives it so affects.  No longer reserved only for those with the means, capacity and time to become educated, the proverbial kid with a library card can look up any issue well beyond his MPAA rating limit.  And yet…

To disengage oneself from the discussion, to be above the fray is deemed enlightened.  Here are common attributes of the politically ambiguous:

-The unaffiliated or independent voter who doesn’t know that independent is an actual political party that must be joined in order to claim affiliation.  However, this naive independence would be undermined by such an affiliation because of the desire to be unaffiliated.  Politics, to such outsiders, is a petty, ugly, corrupt game not worthy of attention more than once every four years.  And while I cannot disagree with the first three, it is worthy of the attention of all citizens for they ignore it at their own peril.  The disinterest, disguised as profound, has created the system that is so despised.

-“I vote the person, not the party.”  Well bully for you!  Whether you like it or not, if that person has a prayer of winning the election, that person is most likely a member of one of the two major political parties (for those really not paying attention either Republican or Democrat).  These parties have competing platforms, agendas and campaigns. (and other nomenclature generally reserved for construction, the PTA and warfare)  Your “special” person is the recipient of party generated campaign funds and possesses opinions on the myriad topics that drive the political system.  Even if the money speaks with the same voice, and the opinions are (not bloody likely) identical to the voter, the two part system does not idealize that person in quite the same way.  Legislatures have majorities and as they say, majorities rule.  EXAMPLE:  say your person is a middle of the road politician who is in either major party but does not agree with some of the more controversial views of that party.  Your person is elected by people who like the attitude of standing up for what you believe, against friend and foe alike.  Now, this win, by this person just so happens to be the deciding vote to determine the majority of the legislature.  “So Johnny, tell ‘em what they’ve won!!!…” now the majority party, with whom this special, principled, independently thinking candidate disagrees on controversial topics, still gains control to implement policies on those issues that are contrary to the desires of the candidate. ( and the voting voter who votes the person)

-Any modern hatred towards politics is entirely understandable as it is a base endeavor where optimistic virtue is sacrificed to the God of cynical contempt.  However, perhaps it helps (or makes this irredeemably worse) to know that this frustration is not so modern.  Generally speaking, humans have always viewed government as a necessary evil and politics is the manner with which that government is governed.  Any persistent anger with politicians is a bit misdirected.  As with most modern emotional afflictions, to discover the source of discomfort, one need only look inward.  In this modern age where information exists on a 24 hour news cycle, and with a regularly elected representative government at the helm, the fault really does lie with those who are in charge of the government.  The people, the citizens of the United States.  In a representative democracy, the people get the government that they deserve.  There are quite a few variations on this but the bottom line is that a disinterested citizenry is not absolved of duty.

-There are those who just don’t feel as though they possess enough information to take part in the discussion.  Ironically enough, I have found that those who make such a claim generally follow it up with a bit of faux-humility: “I am too smart not to know.”  To these gifted folks with the ignoble tendency toward apathy- READ, LEARN, INFORM YOURSELF.  Listen to the radio, watch the news, check online.  Stop reveling in the irony of your intelligence.  Help yourself to help yourself.———  There is a  subcategory to the uninformed: the dedicated, single issue voter.  Why bother with the pettiness of economics?  Abortions and marriage for all (or some or none).  This is much like the cave of which Plato wrote.  Look beyond the shadows and find that self-interest goes beyond the heated social issues to which so many voters cling.

What is the purpose of all of this madness?  Why should those who have never cared start to care instead of simply continuing along the previously uncontested course of not caring??

Nothing changes if nothing changes.  There is a financially unsustainable system in place that continues unabated walking hand in hand with rampant injustice sponsored by the bureaucracies of government.  The powers that be are accustomed to a populace that will disapprove of a congress that continues to win elections and insulates the aristocratic leadership that depends on willful ignorance.  In order to mend the fractures, the people must acknowledge what is actually broken, beyond the platitudes of “vote them all out”.  Claim the right to your own informed opinion, take a stand in the direction of your own life, the life of your family, your country.  Know that the problem exists in part, because of the uninformed populace but that the solution exists in that same body.  Empower yourself.  At this time in history, technology provides humanity with potential access to all knowledge ever possessed. In this country, the last best hope on Earth, we have access to the tools left us by the original directors of this country: our Declaration and our Constitution.  These gifts empower Americans to achieve the best possible future for this nation and when so needed, change course and avoid the ruin that ends in the ash can of history.  As citizens and voters you need but reach for these tools.  Do so as informed citizens with the desire to leave this country better than it was when it was found, and founded.

“An informed citizenry is the only true repository of the public will.” Thomas Jefferson