Posted by: minnow | October 14, 2015

American Politics

Austria 1

Austria 1

This post from my news feed about anti-Muslim protests in the US caught my attention last week. Honestly it frightened me.  It reminded of pictures, like the one to the left titled, “Nazi Laws Against Jews”, from the Holocaust Research Project.  Honestly, the concerns coming out of the Republican camp lately frighten me.  Seriously, when Republican candidates vying for the office of the President can publicly question the fitness for that same office of an entire group of people because of their religion or ethnicity–and the rest of us barely blink–WE HAVE A PROBLEM!

I loved  history as a child.  I liked people and for me history consists of stories about people.  Of course, part of my attraction to history was due to the revisionist versions I was taught in my public education.  These simplified renditions helped me feel good about myself and my nation. They encouraged me to feel superior–smarter, stronger, more moral and that made me feel safe. I saw dozens of movies and televisions shows add visual support to the Americans-are-always-the-guys-in-the-white-hats philosophy.   Personally,  WWII history was the most attractive.  We were the military force that swept through Europe and set the world right again! And, everyone back home gladly sacrificed for the greater good, remember?  Ignoring our own failings (which included a racist military policy), we were the heroes that stuck it to the Nazis.  My childhood was a great time to be an American–even if on occasion the folks on the Waltons inadvertently burned a Bible because it was written in German.

The trouble is, Americans have never been any different than people in any other nation.  We have made a habit of ignoring our own  bigotry, greed, and brutality while highlighting that of others.  We justify our actions or deflect our guilt by pointing out someone who is worse or by proclaiming our nation’s best interest.  Perhaps it is human nature–an innate capacity to be both good and evil–which cause us to see the specks in someone else’s eye before we see the plank in our own.  Still, the good in all of us should be alarmed by the growing volume of voices who use ethnicity and difference to divide and who create an atmosphere of suspicion and fear by way of religious and nationalistic rhetoric.  Systematically vilifying a minority people group is how the Nazis were allowed to rise to power and ultimately murder more than 6 million people.

America has reached a crossroads.  Our long-term direction could easily be decided in the up coming election. Signs indicate that the integrity of our nation, the legitimacy of our Constitution and the voice of the people, is at stake.  Candidates running for President in both the Republican and Democrat parties represent distinct philosophical, if not moral, differences.  And, Americans need to wake up and take note.  Every individual who cares about his or her future  needs to weigh-in.  Our children and grandchildren may not be able to fix our mistakes if we don’t.  By our action, or our inaction, we will determine our country’s destiny.

Will we elect a leader who will determine the course of our nation from his own self-interest, who “can’t be bought” but who also can’t be counseled? Mr. Trump is such a man.  Not only is he self consumed but, his careless verbiage with regard to women and people of color, his volatile temperament, and his ignorance of the rest of the world are dangerous, as well as offensive.  Can we really afford to put America in the hands of a gambler who let four multimillion-dollar business deals go bankrupt because he found a loophole that let him personally off the hook?  Obviously, some think so, since he leads the GOP presidential polls.  According to PEW research Trump still holds a 9% lead in the polls over Carson, who incidentally made the comment about Muslims mentioned above, and Jeb Bush, who represents the party hard liners AKA the billionaire class,  isn’t even in double digits.

Tonight (10/13) I listened to the first Democratic Debate.  Wow! The contrast was startling.  Reasonable people, substantive issues, no name calling, and no histrionics.  Lincoln Chaffee and Jim Webb are not well enough known and were not unique enough in their positions on the issues to gather much momentum.  I suspect neither will be in the race much longer. However, all five of these candidates–Lincoln Chaffee, Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, Bernie Sanders, and Jim Webb–deserve our thanks.  Collectively these five democrats gave the American people a glimmer of hope.  They let us know, at least some politicians in the coming election want to be problem solvers and difference makers, team builders and visionaries.  Even Hilary Clinton, who for me has often seemed more like a weather vane than a lighthouse, chose to point toward the future.

That said, I still support Bernie Sanders, without hesitation.  I do so with my vote and with my money.  But more importantly, I do so with my time.  Sanders himself declares for him to win AND have it mean anything, the rest of us have to climb on board.  We have to find and elect senators and congressmen who are willing to say NO to the wealthy ruling class. Who, instead, turn a listening ear to the masses.  We have to quit letting the fear mongers and doomsdayers divide and bully us.  We have to put our muscle and our money to work so the many can deliver our message as powerfully and the few.

American was built on the backs of the hard working middle class.  They deserve to have their hard work be enough.   They deserve a guarantee–a roof over their heads, food on the table, quality schools to attend, medicine when they fall sick, and security when they retire.  We have the ability.  We need the will.  I’m voting for Bernie Sanders because Bernie Sanders has been voting for me.

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