Trump hopes for the Hollywood ending

trump-press-conferenceHollywood tells all kind of stories. One of the staples of the “Hollywood ending” is when the main character delivers a speech that changes the course of events of the tale. It’s the Aesop’s Fables morality moment where we all come to the same collective understanding that whatever had been happening up to that point was wrong. At the conclusion of the speech, nearly everyone has their road-to-Damascus conversion, admitting the error of their ways and vowing to make a change for the better.

Those moments make for some of the best stories, because we want to believe if the characters in the story can make a change for the best, we all can. Unfortunately, for many, art does not reflect reality.

trump-quote-on-mediaDuring his first press conference since the inauguration, Donald Trump verbally castigated the vast majority of the national press corps and the mainstream media for their creation of fake news. He called them out, right to their faces, vacillating between charismatic humor and stern scolding. He told them how disappointed he and fellow Americans are with their tone and willful obfuscation of the truth. He acknowledged that he will make mistakes and would expect the reporting to be bad; conversely, he said when he does something well, he would expect the media to report something good. Instead, as he noted, the press will take something good and make it sound bad and then take something bad and make it sound worse. He called that fake news.

Then, in a surprising moment of both sincerity and clarity, President Trump stated, “I want to see an honest press. I started off today by saying it’s so important to the public to get an honest press. The public doesn’t believe you people any more.” Had this been a Hollywood movie, the violins would have swelled and we would have been shown a montage of faces all coming to the realization they have been wrong. They would have turned to each other with reflective expressions, before standing and applauding the president for reminding them of who they are. What would follow, after a slow fade, would be a voice-over from one or more reporters, reading from their latest pieces, apologizing to their readers/listeners/viewers for abdicating their duties as dispassionate reporters of facts. They would beg for forgiveness, hoping to convey their sincere change of heart over how they had lost their way.

Sadly, this isn’t a Hollywood movie. The reporters, who would likely gush over a similar scene on the silver screen, were completely oblivious to the message. The hurt feelings and bruised egos were on display across the dial following the press conference. All they cared about was playing out the infantile schoolyard game of, “Oh, yeah, well I think you’re a big, stupid, poo-poo head!”

Am not. Are too!

Beyond the content discussed in President Trumps presser, what he told the media about their role and responsibility was a bulls-eye. The Founding Fathers understood the need to have a free and unfettered press to keep government honest. They toiled for months to craft the Constitution, built on the concept of three separate but co-equal branches of government. These three estates — Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches — were designed to have a specific set of checks and balances to ensure no branch could overrule the other.

But, in face of major concerns from several states about the need for greater constitutional protection for individual liberties, James Madison went to work on drafting the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. The Bill of Rights, as they are now known, lists specific prohibitions on governmental power, with the first protecting, among others, the freedom of the press. Many misinterpret this to mean, the press must publish whatever someone wants heard. This is absurd. There is no “right” to be heard. What the amendment secures is the protection of the press to be free from harm or imprisonment for saying/printing material that might be unfavorable to the government. None of the amendments are there to give people privileges; they are there to declare unalienable rights, which cannot be infringed upon by any part of the government.

As it relates to the press, the framers of our Constitution recognized, even with checks and balances in place, politicians could collude together to avoid following those enumerated rules for how our government should function. By granting the press immunity from government prosecution, they created, in effect, a fourth estate, which exists outside of government. They reasoned, when politicians might be tempted to act outside of the bounds of the Constitution, the press would shed light on those actions and the American public would be informed. Knowing the press is free from government persecution, the members of each branch of government would feel the weight of the all-seeing-eye of providence pressing down on them, helping to keep them on the straight and narrow.

Unfortunately, we have been witness to the slow erosion of the line separating the press and government. It’s become more important to curry favor and keep getting the invites to the social events, rather than being objective with the facts. News is no longer reported. It’s crafted. It’s honed. Impressions can be made by leaving certain facts out while embellishing others. The purveyors of news have, for the most part, become mouthpieces for the sides they like. When members of the press choose the party they like over the party they do not, it is impossible to expect an objective reporting of facts. For all intents and purposes, the majority of the national press corps and the mainstream media has morphed into a propaganda wing for “their” side — the majority of which leans Left.

There is nothing wrong with writing opinion pieces, but that is not the role of the press. I do not classify myself as a “reporter” or a “journalist.” I am not just giving a chronology of events as they occurred. I do look at the facts, then I filter them through knowledge and experience. Once I have had a chance to digest the context, I provide my own thoughts and ideas, tempered with logic and reason, on the news of the day. Like a skilled debater, I am trying to convince my audience, through explanation and illustration, that my point-of-view is solid and above reproach.

This is the problem with the mainstream media. Too many have become covert op-ed writers, not interested in just laying out facts, but instead, creating a narrative, disguised as news, meant to sway the audience. The moment a journalist moves in that direction, they have willfully abdicated their role as reporters of the truth.

It’s not too late to hope for the Hollywood ending. But, as long as the press corps believes their role is to shape the news rather than report on it, they will continue to be manipulated into defending their egos when their machinations are revealed. The more the press loses their mind over the actions of Donald Trump, the less the public will believe anything they have to say.

President Trump challenged them to provide the truth to the American public. If it were a movie, that’s all it would take.

Will protest fatigue begin to show?

funny-rally-signs-21

It’s just now coming up on 13 days; not yet two full weeks since the inauguration. I believe there have been protests, rallies and protest-rallies each and every day, with no sign of slowing. There is a subset of our country that seems to have decided it’s better (easier?) to stop going to work, ignore responsibilities to house and home and become a career protester.

Hey, hey, ho, ho…so and so has got to go!

What do we want? <blank> When do we want it? Now.

I am writing this specifically for my friends on the Left. I’m worried about you. There is a problem when you continuously dilute your agenda by deciding everything must be protested. You could eventually succumb to the psychological condition known as compassion fatigue. As defined, compassion fatigue is a condition identified by a gradual lessening of compassion over time. It is common among individuals who deal with heightened emotions. From soldiers in combat, to first-responders, to doctors in emergency rooms and more, when exposed to intense situations over and over, eventually, as a way to cope, you will begin to stop caring. Similar to the boy-who-cried-wolf scenario, at some point, no one will care about what you have to say.

In addition to the gradual loss of apathy for the interest or cause, there are other problems that may manifest themselves. Some side effects of compassion fatigue include feelings of hopelessness, losing the ability to experience joy, a loss of a sense of humor, constant stress and anxiety, sleeplessness and a shift toward negativity.

unhappyprotesterSome say the voices of the regressive-Left are already experiencing these symptoms today. Many have already lost their sense of humor. Everything is mind-numbingly serious. There are those intent on looking for micro-aggressions everywhere, while demanding safe-spaces in which to hide. Some see misogyny, bigotry and xenophobia all around. Even last night on the campus of Berkeley, riots broke out because the tolerant voices of the Left would not tolerate to have Milo Yiannopoulos as a guest speaker. Why? Because he is not lock-step in line with the groupthink of the Left. The constant genuflections within the church of political correctness is leading toward a mass psychosis.

Ask yourself, when was the last time you felt joy? Hopefulness? When was the last time you felt positive about yourself? Your community? Your country? The knee-jerk reaction to decide anyone wearing the jersey of the “other” team must be opposed, shouted down, protested, fought and oppressed is a prescription for eventual self-destruction rather than victory.

Let’s pull back and I’ll try to explain this in a different way. We’ve all had relationships go bad. Whether dumped or divorced, we all know what it feels like to be emotionally hurt by someone we loved. However, over time, most will put that chapter behind us and move on to new adventures. That’s the healthy path. But, occasionally, the bitterness of the breakup will drive some to obsess over their ex, wondering nonstop who they are with or what they are doing? They complain incessantly about what they’ve learned, their words dripping with revulsion and anger. It becomes uncomfortable when they are out in groups. They cannot allow themselves to be happy because of their obsession over the one who hurt them and, by way of extension, like the Dementors of Harry Potter, can suck the joy out of everyone else in the room.

Let me ask you, in that situation, who is actually hurting? Who is really suffering? Is the ex somehow affected by the vitriol of their former love? Or is it the one who cannot figure out how to look for some semblance of acceptance and peace?

This is what’s happening to a segment of the population since the election of Donald Trump. Many are acting like the jilted lover and now that they have been left behind, they are focusing their hurt and anger on the one they believe scorned them. They are trolling nonstop, looking to criticize every word, phrase or action, regardless of facts, logic or reason. They prefer to make themselves feel better by hurting others, while spreading lies, misinformation and partisan rhetoric.

You cannot remove darkness with more darkness. You cannot remove anger by getting angrier. Said another way, by the great civil right’s leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” It’s not easy to do, but, as with most things, it has to begin with you. No one else can do it for you.

This is not to say you must roll over and accept everything. On the contrary, the framers of our Constitution were keen to protect the right of citizens to gather and speak openly. However, if you have set yourself up that when the President says the sky is blue, you cross your arms, stamp your feet and shake your head, are you really accomplishing anything? To willfully disagree with everything means you are no longer protesting — you are throwing a tantrum. And, as most toddlers learn, throwing a tantrum uses a lot of energy and rarely achieves anything other than dreary fatigue. It is more productive and healthier to learn to pick your battles and pay heed to the old adage, you are likely to attract more flies with honey than with vinegar.

We, the Selfish Libertarians

There’s this meme going around which reads, “All cats are libertarians. Completely dependent on others but fully convinced of their own independence.” The implication is that libertarians have deluded themselves into thinking they have the skill set to provide everything they need in life on their own without assistance. They have deluded themselves into thinking they can farm, build a car, make a house and build a furnace.

all-cats-are-libertarians-mary-fanningDoes anyone in their right mind really think libertarians believe this? Only the complainers who want to smear the philosophy who don’t understand it think this. When you meet a libertarian, ask them if they think this. None but a mentally disturbed person (or a really skilled one) would claim this.

No, libertarians understand very well they’re dependent on other people but what they want, is to choose who to interact with and not be forced through a government program or policy on who to interact with. So the meme remains true. But without the implication of delusion of being able to provide everything on their own. What we want, is the freedom to seek out the best people to rely on, not have a certain set determined for us.

The biggest complaint I’ve seen as of late is that being a libertarian means being selfish. Being a libertarian, they say, means only looking out for yourself and be damned your neighbors and community. But again, those that say this haven’t done their homework on what libertarian means.

The platform of the Libertarian Party reads, in part, “We hold that all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose.”

Does any of this sound selfish so far? Sounds to me like everyone gets to play and be nice and be happy. I’ve yet to find anyone who can reasonably disagree with this. Wait, I mean, unless they’re ready to claim that A) Other people know better than most other people how to live so they should be put in charge; B) Some lifestyles are not appropriate even if they don’t hurt anyone and must not be allowed; C) Those smarter people from A should be allowed to monitor some people to make sure their happiness isn’t too happy or happier than others.

A, B, and C are exactly what the complainers are engaging in when they say libertarians are selfish. They think that other people from a magic land of perfect people, pulled from maybe Plato’s Philosopher Kings, should be anointed (elected) to take a bit from some people and give to other people and that it’s okay to use force because if they didn’t, some people wouldn’t voluntarily help their community. It’s forced cooperation. They claim it’s necessary because without it, people can’t seem to take care of each other voluntarily.

And yet, it’s a myth. They can’t point to any group of libertarians actually neglecting their community. They can’t point to, say, New Hampshire which has a government most closely based on Libertarian policies and show the pit of selfish, disaster they predict. Their complaint that libertarianism is selfish is based on the same incorrect assumption drug warriors have; which is, if we legalize it everyone will be stoned!

The complainers, who mostly come from the Left of the political spectrum, are usually most at odds with the economic side of libertarianism. We’re actually quite in line with the social side. Libertarians and the Left agree that gay marriage should be legalized, we’re both generally in favor of ending the drug war, we’re both open for free speech and press, we’re both pro-choice and on and on.

So let’s look at some of the libertarian economic ideas and see if they really are selfish.

The complainers claim that our preference for a Minimum Wage of zero means we don’t value unskilled labor and would, if we could, pay them sweatshop wages. They claim we’d be a nation of robber barons, selfishly keeping profits and stepping on the little guy. On the contrary, the reason libertarians want to end the Minimum Wage is because it actually pushes people out of the work force. If the Left gets what it wants, which presently is a wish for $15.00 an hour, businesses would reduce their work force, and chances wouldn’t be taken on unskilled people. So the libertarian solution is actually less selfish because what we’re promoting is more employment.

The complainers claim that our view towards private property ownership means some businesses would deny service to some people based on color or religion or race or whatever factor is unfavorable to the business owner. It’s true some would do this. But I venture lots of people making this complaint don’t know how business works. Business owners recognize they’re in business to make money and a living. Denying certain groups of people would get around. People generally don’t share good service stories. They share bad service stories. If you own a business and say, choose not to serve black people, your business may very well fold. So you’ll probably serve as many people as possible. This myth of businesses suddenly becoming selfish and closing it’s doors to some groups if libertarian economics were installed is just not valid. The complainer can point to one or two bakers who refused a gay wedding. But I challenge them to find a significant problem like a large fast food restaurant or grocery chain engaging in this behavior. Or a motor vehicle company. If libertarian economics are suddenly put in place, McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Ford, Microsoft, Apple, General Motors, Southwest Airlines, you name it, will keep on serving everyone.

The second complaint about private property ownership says that our view means we’ll let the environment be trashed. But I’m not sure how this line of thinking goes. It’s always public parks and spaces that have the most graffiti and vandalism. Property owners have a vested interest in making sure their property and surrounding property are clean. They have an interest in not damaging or misusing the resources. A common complaint is that if Yellowstone Park were privatized, someone could buy it and turn it into a chemical dump. This is such a bunch of ridiculousness. Yellowstone Park’s value is being Yellowstone Park. Private ownership would keep it clean and safe for tourism to continue. I challenge that private parks are always better because owners are always ensuring they have a favorable place for customers to spend time and money where as government/public parks always rely on the mythical “someone else” to pick up the trash.

There are complaints that libertarians want to put health care into the free market and this is supposedly a death sentence to anyone who can’t afford it. The whole Right to Health Care movement is made up of people who think government should provide this very necessary service. But I never see anyone campaigning for the Right to Food and petitioning the government to take over grocery stores. Maybe because food is cheap enough while health care remains expensive. Fair enough. But the naysayers complain that it’s the greedy medical profession and industry that keeps it high because of the need. Well food is more important on a day to day basis and there’s no greed there. Doesn’t the food industry have just as much of an incentive to be as greedy? So why aren’t they? The answer comes down to choice. In most places, you have numerous grocery stores to shop from, big and small. In short, there is competition.

Why is it that a two-liter of pop is still about one dollar? Why is it that the top of the line cell phones are practically given away by phone companies in exchange for a service contract? It’s because of competition. In the medical profession, the problem is two-fold: Excessive government licensing and regulations and a general lack of competition. Prior to 1960, health care was rather accessible to everyone and doctors made house calls. Not any more. The government started up their own programs to help where they didn’t need to and drove up costs. Plus, the feds and states have regulations requiring certain things be covered where they’re not needed which makes you pay for things you don’t need. I know of someone right now who’s one-year-old daughter has maternity insurance, mandated by law.

What if the health care industry was in the same market as cell phones? This means deregulation and increase competition. And then you’d have truly affordable health care.

Competition is a theme here with all things libertarian. And maybe that’s another reason we’re called selfish. Competition sounds combative and, it sounds like someone will lose. But all competition means is several people make several businesses who compete for customers and this formula brings best services for cheapest prices to the consumers who will always be the winners. It’s working right now for cell phones, computers, two-liter sodas, television sets, automobiles and so many other products under the sun. Put health care into this formula and problem solved.

So as you can see, or should by now, libertarians want to see people excel and profit and prosper. We just have a different way of getting there. The Left considers government mandates and programs as the way to achieve this and libertarians argue a reduction of all that is the solution.

Will it work? Not for every one but it will for most. Libertarians aren’t selling utopia. Utopia doesn’t exist. It’s the Left who are trying to sell utopia with their claims that the right people in the right positions will be honorable enough to divvy up the goods and all will be happy. But we’re living that big government nightmare right now and it’s not working. At the very least, why not try the free market? We’re seeing government fail as a solution. Why does the Left want more government? Again, they’re seeking a utopia that doesn’t exist.

Libertarians are not selfish. In fact, our policies and positions help everyone get in on the action. Our platform is for everyone. The examples discussed above make it pretty evident the libertarian solutions are actions to bring more people into employment, more people into participating in business as owner and customer, giving more people access to health care.all-cats-are-libertarians-mary-fanning

So the problem of libertarians being labeled as selfish is a lack of education on what libertarian means and/or a desire to just smear because the Left has held on too long to the Utopian dream of the right people in the right positions theory. Big government (Democratic Socialist) policies have demonstrably failed. The continued push to impose them, expecting different results, is an act of faith. And faith means acting despite the lack of evidence. That’s what the Left is doing. There’s no evidence more government works. In fact, there’s evidence to the contrary yet they’re still holding on to it so they must engage in scaring people into thinking a free market, a libertarian solution is selfish.

Nope, it’s time to try what works. Let’s try the free market, the less selfish position, because we have ample evidence it works to help all people. If you want to help all people, why not give it a try? At the very worst, we can always go back. But I’m betting after a few years of a libertarian society, you won’t want to. Because no society has ever crumbled or found themselves in trouble when they’ve used too much reason.

Now go read on other topics covered in the Libertarian Party platform here. You’ll see the language is all about helping everyone. There’s nothing selfish about it. I challenge anyone to read it and find evidence where it says something about keeping out undesirables or having enough money so that others can’t get at it. And if after reading it you continue to claim this selfish nonsense, you do it at the expense of your own reputation for being disingenuous. Feel free to knock the free market. Feel free to bring up evidence against it. But libertarians being selfish? That’s ad hominem, uneducated and unfounded.

Two sides of the same coin

Building on my most recent piece, I want to explore further the current climate within the electorate. Without a doubt, the last two (and soon to be three) election cycles for president are no longer about record. We are not interested in the most qualified, either. We don’t care about experience or integrity. All we care about is which candidate is going to make us feel something.

When I say “we,” I mean a rising majority of those who even bother to vote. Personally, I still hold tight to the belief that record and consistency matter. I dislike identifying with a party, often choosing to describe my views as either Constitutionalist or Originalist. Whenever the government wants to do something, I ask, where does the Constitution provide for that? What was the intent of the Founding Fathers as it relates to such an idea? We have volumes of writings (the Federalist Papers) that provide the context of every word in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. If anyone wants to take time to read their words, you will immediately know how they felt about the role of government.

Regardless of how someone looks, whether they are short or tall, male or female, black or white (or any other shade), I care only about the content of their character. Do they follow through on their word? Are they honest? Do they conduct themselves as though they understand they are a civil servant and not a lord over their own personal fiefdom? If their position on any given subject has changed, can they identify the moment when new knowledge or experiences helped to reshape their views?

In some ways, it’s similar to choosing a mate. I love my wife. Though it started with feelings we had for each other, we didn’t base our relationship on just those. We stayed together and grew stronger because of so many shared views and interests. But, she is not a clone of me, nor I of her. As shocking as this may sound, we don’t agree with each other 100% of the time. We can rub each other the wrong way. We each have our own interests that are less appealing to the other. Yet, she is my best friend in the whole world. I love her intellect, her wit and her sarcasm. Our incompatibilities far out-weight any dissimilarities, but it took time and effort to dig deep to make sure we were basing our future on a rock solid foundation.

We all know or have experienced relationships built only on a shallow view of the other person. Whenever we have opted to put importance on the physical (or the monetary), those relationships disappoint and fall apart. The halls of family courts across the nation are littered with couples separating over “irreconcilable difference.” How many of them realized only after getting married that they really didn’t have enough in common to build a life around? They didn’t take the time to look at their situation logically and reasonably. I’m not saying emotion or passion isn’t a factor, it just shouldn’t be the only one!

In 2008, we saw the first case of this phenomenon in politics when a young, naive and relatively unknown junior senator was able to capture the imagination of the electorate and rocket to the presidency without any in-depth vetting or qualifications. Barack Obama was young, articulate and exciting. We heard over and over about how historic it would be to elect the first black president in the United States. We put looks over substance and it was exciting! Record voter turn-out showed the country was caught up in the euphoria of such a candidate. He became as much a celebrity as he did the leader of the free world. He based his campaign on hope and change and the masses loved how that made them feel.

Enter the seven-year itch.

The electorate has soured on the surface layer fluff and no longer has any excitement for their chosen mate. The problems of seven years ago are either still in place or are much worse. The national debt has doubled from a little over $9 trillion to almost $19 trillion, the workforce participation race hasn’t been this low in over 30 years and 45% of those who do work are not even paying a dime in federal income tax. We are speeding headlong into a complete collapse of the healthcare system due to the exchanges going bankrupt because of the failed ponzi scheme that is the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). Illegals pour into our nation unfettered, loan wolf attacks from terrorists are rising and civil unrest in many cities is reminiscent to what led to the riots of the 60s.

That’s when the next “looker” catches our eye from across the room. And just like seven years ago, the electorate is glomming onto the candidate who most makes them feel something. Instead of hope and change, we now just want to make America great again. Fueled by massive unpopularity for anyone else considered to be a career politician, the celebrity candidate, who also happens to be an outsider, is like the bright colored bauble hypnotizing the glee-faced toddler. It doesn’t matter what positions Donald Trump has held in the past, it only matters what he says he’s going to do. And contrary to some pundits out there, he is building a huge coalition of followers across several key demographics who themselves want to feel great again.

I have no crystal ball. Should Trump win the nomination and then go on to win the presidency, he may turn out to be exactly what this country needs to pull out of the socialism dive and get back to the tenents of the Constitution. Or he may turn out to be the accelerant that brings our nation crashing to its knees. There is no way to know for sure.

But we are not increasing the odds of a successful relationship by never going beyond the superficial. Trump followers are in the infatuation stage. It’s how our brains are wired. The reward pathways increase our excitement and joy when stimulated. The better something or someone makes us feel, the more we want it. Like lab rats, we will keep pressing the lever that releases the pellet for as long as the reward is delivered.

Make America great again! Who doesn’t feel a sense of pride at that slogan? We don’t care if the answers for how he will make that happen are shallow and superficial. It feels good and it feels like winning and we all like to win. George Patton once said, “When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, the big league ball players, the toughest boxers … Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. I wouldn’t give a hoot in Hell for a man who lost and laughed.”

Well, we’ve watched Obama laugh (bow, fold, cave, lead-from-behind) and we don’t like it. We want to win. But Obama once made everyone feel like we could all experience hope and change in our lives. Now we are trading that slogan in for the new one because we want to be great…again! The underlying driver of this year’s primary is the same as in 2008. It’s two sides of the same coin.

What no one really knows is whether or not we are playing heads they win, tails we lose.

 

Schrodinger’s Other Cat

During, and in the few days after CPAC 2015, I found myself engaged, again, in what it means to be a Conservative. I’ve been identified as one and I don’t hate it. But I don’t feel like it describes me. (More on that in a bit).

What brought on the renewed discussion was the presence and short presentation of the American Atheist organization at CPAC2015. A lot of fellow atheists covered social media with gasps of how a humanist organization, one seeking scientific solutions, could be at a Conservative convention. So, being comfortable in both swimming pools, I did my own reaching out. “Hey, fellow atheists! Look, I’m one too! You probably didn’t know this but now you do and we’ve been getting along forever. Isn’t that cool?” And the reception has been just fine. Its fine, because some assumptions were realized and broken. There’s still some head scratching over why I’d want to align myself with such a group (most atheists are of the Liberal persuasion). I believe the problem is because of what the popular definition of a Conservative has come to mean verse what I take it to mean. So let’s examine that. First, let’s examine what the definition of a Conservative is. Then the popular definition. And where else to start than to simply google the word, “Conservative” and see what comes up.

Via Google, the noun definition is: “a person who is averse to change and holds to traditional values and attitudes, typically in relation to politics.”

Well, that’s a lot. What exactly is “traditional”? Is it a good thing? Slavery was traditional. So was polygamy. It was also traditional not to allow women to vote. Also traditional to burn heretics and witches at the stake. Yet I don’t know anyone who identifies themselves as “Conservative” and wants to bring back slavery and witch hunting. Hmmmm…

The adjective definition per Google is: “holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation, typically in relation to politics or religion.” So it’s about the same as the noun. Again we’re with the “traditional”. Yet here there’s also “cautious about change or innovation”. And it’s in relation to politics and religion. So you could be a Conservative Russian Communist pro-slavery, Hindu. But I’m probably the first person to put those identifiers together. No, the popular definition, which we’ll get to, is so far away from that. Hmmmmm…

In the Wikipedia entry for Conservative, we come across more of what’s noted above. Being Wikipedia, there’s deeper analyses and there’s this: “There is no single set of policies that are universally regarded as conservative, because the meaning of conservatism depends on what is considered traditional in a given place and time. Thus conservatives from different parts of the world—each upholding their respective traditions—may disagree on a wide range of issues.”

There ya have it. Sure does look like “Conservative” is whatever the hell you want it to mean. So it’s no wonder that when I’m having a conversation about politics with someone who says they can’t back a Conservative agenda, I’m having such a hard time wondering why. We may have different ideas in our heads. We may be talking about different things. Everyone is a conservative and everyone is not. The word is practically meaningless. Or, better yet, the word means whatever the speaker considers traditional.

Example: A Christian conservative may feel that one man, one woman is a proper marriage. Their conservative view of marriage goes back to a time when polygamy was no longer welcome.

Example: A Muslim conservative may feel that one man, many wives, as young as nine, is a proper marriage. Their conservative view of marriage goes back to their religious history when that was practiced. (And it still is in many parts of the Muslim world).

Now we come to the popular definition of a Conservative. It has some baggage and I think this is where the problem comes in, and where American Atheists found their comrades wondering why they were there.

The term has been hijacked (in part, intentionally and, in part, unintentionally) by a small subset. This subset is summed up as heterosexual, white, Bible loving, Christian, primarily from a southern state, possibly anti-vaxxer, climate change denier and white with a side of white and more white with old, white money. The current trend is to assume that this person wants to hold marriage to one man, one woman. This person wishes to keep women’s wages lower than a man’s. This person also wishes not to grant the LGBTQ equal rights. These people, for all intents and purposes, wish to keep America divided and unequal, with themselves at the top. They love their guns. They love their “traditional family values”. They are pro-death penalty but anti-abortion. And, first and foremost, they have a tighter grip on the United States Constitution than their Bible. Have I missed anything in the stereotype? Please add in the comments.

Of all the descriptors noted above, only four of them are something the person had no choice in. The only four that qualify as “not my fault” are being white, being heterosexual, being born in a southern state or being born into old money. Other than that, the rest are matters of opinion formed after birth. So unless the anti-Conservative is a racist, I’m sure the problem is more with the other descriptors.

How did all those other descriptors get in there? That’s a whole other study, too big for the present piece. Regardless of how it happened, it happened. And we’re living with the stereotype today. And when, for the sake of brevity, I identify as one, all that baggage comes with it.

I addressed that in a prior piece here and here so I won’t get into it again. And I asked my fellow Conservatives to review their histories and policies and see the flaws. So clearly, I’m not in the stereotype because I’m trying to clean house. And, quite frankly, other than being white and heterosexual, I don’t have any of the other traits. Yet, again, for the sake of brevity, I use the term, “Conservative”.

The only position from the descriptors noted above that I hold dear, is a grip on the Constitution. But it’s not a holy grip. The Constitution is amendable and rightly so. It has been amended, for better or worse, twenty-seven times. In most cases, it’s amended as Thomas Jefferson suggested, always keeping in mind the original spirit of its making, always choosing the position that grants the most individual freedom. The Founding Fathers recognized there was a future they couldn’t predict and allowed for measures of change. I’ve already covered this here. A desire to see my government run closest to the boundaries of the Constitution is why I use the term Conservative. Everything else is baggage I’d just assume do away with.

So maybe I could use something else. Maybe Conservative doesn’t serve it’s purpose for people like me. So, let’s drill down again.

In the Wikipedia article on Conservatism there’s numerous camps under the umbrella, too many to get into. But there’s this entry for Libertarian Conservatism. Hey, I do call myself a Libertarian. So let’s look at that. In part, it defines as, “Its five main branches are Constitutionalism, paleolibertarianism, neolibertarianism, small government conservatism and Christian libertarianism. They generally differ from paleoConservatives, in that they are in favor of more personal and economic freedom.”

Oh geesz, more big words to define.

For fun, let’s look at the first: Constitutionalism. The Wikipedia article says, “Constitutionalism is “a complex of ideas, attitudes, and patterns of behavior elaborating the principle that the authority of government derives from and is limited by a body of fundamental law.”

Sheesh. It’s complex and has patterns. More things to dig into.

How about Paleolibertarians? This form is based on the policies and philosophies of Murray Rothbard and Llewellyn Rockwell. So now we have a breakdown based on two personalities.

How about Neolibertarianism? Also known as ring-wing Libertarianism. Sigh. Please define “right wing” now. And this contrasts to left-Libertarianism.

And if this wasn’t bad enough, in the Wikipedia side box of the Part of a Series on Libertarianism, under Schools, are the following:

Agorism, Anarchism, Anarcho-capitalism, Autarchism, Bleeding-heart libertarianism, Christian libertarianism, Collectivist anarchism, Consequentialist libertarianism, Free-market anarchism, Fusionism, Geolibertarianism, Green anarchism, Green libertarianism. Individualist anarchism, Insurrectionary anarchism, Left-libertarianism, Left-wing market anarchism, Libertarian communism, Libertarian Marxism, Libertarian socialism, Minarchism, Mutualism, Natural-rights libertarianism, Paleolibertarianism, Panarchism, Right-libertarianism, Social anarchism and Voluntaryism.

My brain hurts.

Maybe it’ll help if we look at what is currently considered the opposite of a Conservative: Liberalism. Back to Wikipedia and the opening paragraph reads, “Liberalism is a political philosophy or worldview founded on ideas of liberty and equality. The former principle is stressed in classical liberalism while the latter is more evident in social liberalism. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally they support ideas such as democratic elections, civil rights, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free trade, and private property.”

Sigh. That sounds like Libertarianism. That even sounds like Conservatism.

It sounds like the only way to really describe myself is to use more identifiers than any person could ever understand in polite conversation. It might take twenty different isms to get to the bottom of it. And imagine saying, “I’m a Libertarian, equal rights, social anarchist, voluntarily, liberal on speech and natural rights, conservative about the Bill of Rights except that embarrassing 18th one”. It’s rubbish.

After looking into these and tossing some dice on others, it breaks down to is this: I’m Eric. I’ve lived on this planet for almost forty-five-years now and spent a good part of it sampling much of what life has to offer. I’ve adopted policies and philosophies that seem the best. And they clearly come from different pools. So when someone calls me a Conservative, well, they’re right in part. When someone calls me a Constitutionalist, well, in part. When someone says I practice the Socratic method, yes, but I also like the scientific method, find it a better way at getting to the truth. When someone says I’m White, maybe. But I like peach better.

In essence, part of the problem is that in the United States, we have a two party system. Of course there’s other parties. I belong to one. But the deck is currently stacked against them. So for all intents and purposes, we’re dealing with two. And there’s no possible way to encompass all the different ideologies and life choices in two parties. In fact, everyone is pretty much there own party.

Should we drop labels all together? No. A label gives the frame. Despite this bunch of confusion, I accept being called a Conservative because it’s a frame that I’m closest to. It doesn’t mean I don’t share some opinions outside of the frame. In fact, I share quite a bit. But we just don’t have the time in a day to drill everyone down we meet. Ideally, the best thing to do if you have enough time in conversation is to not bring up a defining label at all. Start with issues. Ask where a person stands on this or that. Bet you’ll find out, as stated above, that no one fits perfectly into a box.

Remember, Schrodinger’s Cat could be either dead or alive in that box. That’s extraordinary polar opposites. Yet, both are as capable of being true until you check. You have no idea what its status is until you open it and check for yourself. I say, labels are convenient. They’re a starting point, hardly a finish. But before you generalize about someone, open the box.

So because of this, I’ll also have to revise my own policy to never argue with Democrats or anyone in the “Communitarian” pool. Maybe someone is in that pool but more like me and I didn’t even know it. Maybe I’m using the label Libertarian and they’re using the label “Communitarian” but were both in favor of the same things and the same way of getting to them. The labels are what’s getting in the way.

And by the way, if you google the word, “argue”, you’ll see two definitions. One reads, “give reasons or cite evidence in support of an idea, action, or theory, typically with the aim of persuading others to share one’s view.” and the other reads, “exchange or express diverging or opposite views, typically in a heated or angry way.” Don’t do the latter. Do the former. Because in the former, there’s no “heated or angry way”. Angry hats never look good and no one learns anything. In fact, angered, heated disputes on politics usually ends up reinforcing a stereotype. And what we want to do, is break them. Bet we’ll find we want much of the same thing and that some of it just might be details.

A Response to an Old Friend

Back in the late 1990s, I joined the Libertarian Party. I became a Big “L”, putting my money and time where my political stance lay. And I was so happy to have found a political home I wanted to share it. When I got my card in the mail, I shared the news with a good friend in a glowing email. We have since parted ways for other reasons, (not politics) but we used to engage in debate, he on offense with Libertarian philosophy and I took up the defense. Back then, these conversations were conducted via email or face-to-face conversation. There was no Twitter or Facebook or Ello.

His arguments were more along the lines of the current Democratic Party platform but felt much closer to the old Soviet Union. My friend avoided the term “communist” when I finally outed him based on his opinions on what made good government. But he despised the term. He preferred “communitarian”. To date, I don’t see the difference. Yet he preferred it so I let him have it. It’s a strange thing, the way people wish to avoid the stigmatization of failed systems yet want to continue to believe the dream. Relabelling doesn’t solve the problem, but I guess it keeps hope alive.

The core of our debates went something like this: He calling the Constitution an outdated document that needed to be replaced and/or fixed. And I saying that other than slavery (that had been done away with already) and other than the failed ten year plus lifespan of the Eighteenth Amendment, the Constitution still remains the best document ever crafted on governance. And round and round we’d go.

When you read the Constitution, even if you knew nothing about the history of governments (say you’re that hypothetical alien visiting planet Earth), you would see that the writers had gone to great lengths to limit it’s ruling body. You would instantly know that the writers had prepared a document that prevented abuses. You would know immediately that it was created because prior governments had abused their people and this document was written to prevent those abuses from happening again. After all, why create a Bill of Rights if speech, religion, the press, etc. had not been abused before? Read the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. They put the big foot down in regards to limiting government.

My friend argued that the Constitution and my Libertarian arguments failed to recognize the “dynamics and sentiments of culture”. Or, to acknowledge the abuses the poor and working class suffered from land owners and barons. Yet…

The Constitution was created by considering and recognizing history. So it is, in fact, very historical and takes into account the many “dynamics and sentiments of culture”. It was put together by people who considered history and observed the many abuses of the power model of government. The writers of this Constitution went to great lengths to prevent the mistakes of history from happening here in America. The fact is, the Constitution is the ONLY document in history that was created to limit the power of government and respect the individual liberties of the people because no one else had done it before. This goes for the poor and working class as well. Opportunity is available for all. It’s up to each and every one of us, regardless of the deck we start with, to shuffle it up the best we can. Individual results may vary.

As he was proposing to do away with the Constitution and rewrite government, I could see where he was coming from. If he wanted a “communitarian” government, he’d have start from scratch. But until then, the Constitution must be accepted and government must be harnessed under its reigns. The Constitution is the supreme law of The United States of America and, until that is changed, it must be honored. If the ruling power can bypass it’s own laws and do whatever it wants, then what does that say about us as a society, especially if we accept it? Incidentally, since those 1990s conversations, our government has bypassed the Constitution on so many levels I’ve yet to find enough paper to catalog them all.

My friend continually brought out his favorite government program, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as proof that although not Constitutionally authorized, was extremely beneficial. He cited the great work of Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” as a motivator to finally get some regulation so our food wouldn’t be tainted. And I’d respond with…

Today, the Federal Government consistently bypasses the Constitution and does whatever it feels like, for better or worse. You may enjoy the FDA but the Feds had no authority to create it just as they had no authority to create NASA, the CIA, FBI, DEA and other organizations of the government alphabet soup. The only way the powers of the American government can be changed is through amending the Constitution. Right now, our government does not do this. They brush the Constitution aside as if it were a burdensome article.

Think on this a minute…

If Consumer Reports began to forcefully take your money for its projects, would you accept this?

If Ford, GM and Chrysler forcefully took your money to fund research on the next addition of automobiles, would you accept this?

If the Salvation Army began to force you, through threats of jail and/or prison, to hand over part of your paycheck for a welfare system, even if it was shown to work perfectly, would you smile and accept this?

I suspect that you probably would not. Why? Because you know that GM, Consumer Reports and the Salvation Army have no authority to forcefully take your money regardless of the benefits. The same applies to government programs. Regardless of the benefit, if an organization has no authority to do something, then it is prohibited. However, if you wanted to voluntarily donate to their cause, then that is perfectly acceptable because it is voluntary.

The issue comes down to FORCE. Government forces you to participate regardless of your support. Private companies do not have that power and no one in their right mind would allow it. Why do you support forcing people to support programs they want no part of?

You say that you like the existence of the FDA. Well, that’s fine. But if the government gives you your program, then everyone else gets theirs. The biggest problem with our government is that special interest groups run it. Whether you smoke or not, the Feds give over your tax dollars to subsidize the tobacco companies. Whether or not you support an effort in a foreign land, your government sends your tax dollars to it. It doesn’t matter if you can’t feed your children or send them to an accredited university, government will go right on building that space station with your money it took by force.

Specifically in regards to the FDA, what makes you think that it is necessary or even the most benign? After all, Consumer Reports and other private watchdog groups already exist to check the product of corporations. It makes no sense to have an FDA, not to mention that it has no Constitutional authority to exist. You are not required to fund Consumer Reports but you are required to fund the FDA only because it is a government program, not because it is the best or most productive. If, just hypothetically, the FDA did not exist, would you voluntarily give over some of your money to Consumer Reports? Maybe you would. Maybe you would not. It depends on how important the issue is to you. I suspect you’d be getting your money’s worth mainly because if Consumer Reports does not give you quality results, they would cease to exist because people would stop funding them. The FDA keeps right on going regardless of their results.

On a final note, what makes you think those government programs are better than privately run ones? Our government can’t keep people from taking drugs, it can’t make people go from welfare to work, it can’t educate your child, it can’t make blacks and whites get along, it can’t stop abortions….etc…etc…etc. Given the results of these government efforts, what makes you think that a government program can make food and drugs safer?

Government doesn’t work. It never has. A government program is no more benign than a private one. In fact, history shows them to be less productive and mainly destructive because they operate on force and not results. You may feel safer by having these government programs but I hold reservations to giving government authority to do anything, regardless of the benefits. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety”.

And that was that. We stopped discussing politics because we were getting no where. He was just fine using force to support his favorite programs, I was not. I wonder what he’s doing now? Last I heard, he was quitting his job to enter the priesthood. Oh the things we’d discuss now. Maybe some other time.

Our writers have been working on a special Independence Day publication

declaration.of.independenceOur writers have had their noses to the political grindstone since the primary election season has been underway in our country. They have been on the campaign trail, speaking out daily on social media and trying to inspire others to get involved in the political process. We are not just about talking — we are also about doing! With such poor voter turn-out across so many states in our union, we began to wonder why we take our freedoms so for granted? It will be 238 years ago that our Founding Fathers signed their own death warrants when they put their names to the bottom of the Declaration of Independence. They pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor for a belief in freedom and independence.  Yet today, with early voting, absentee voting and voting on election day itself, scarcely 1 in 5 Americans this year have exercised one of the most important duties we have.

We are at a tipping point in our nation. We have more people on some form of government handout than ever before. We have nearly 100 million able-bodied Americans sitting at home instead of working full-time in the labor force. Our foreign policy has never been so muddled, with confused and disappointed allies and emboldened enemies. Our domestic policy is no better, with scandals involving the NSA, IRS, Justice Department, VA and immigration garnering top headlines over the last few years. We have members of the Legislative branch actively seeking to abdicate the checks and balances afforded to them in the Constitution in favor of giving the Executive branch the authority to circumvent the limitations of that very same document. We have a President who believes he has the ability to decide which laws are enforced, which are not and which can be modified by simply making a speech.

Our Constitutional Republic will cease to be if we continue down this path. It is inevitable. We are far removed from how our Founding Fathers painstakingly crafted the framework of our government, designed to prevent a monarchy, oligarchy or dictatorship from ever taking root. Yet, they themselves admitted, should the people ever decide to forego their role in the affairs of public discourse and allow the usurpation of the Constitution to become commonplace, we would no longer be a free nation.

So, after a bit of a hiatus, each of us will be publishing a piece tomorrow, on the 4th of July, with one simple topic in mind: what does freedom mean? We hope you will find those pieces informative, thought-provoking and maybe even a little infuriating. If it helps to get you involved, we will consider it a success.

I will close with the opening of the Declaration of Independence:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

After reading those words, ask yourself, could that document have been written today, about the very machinations of our current body politic? Do you truly believe we have been endowed with certain unalienable Rights or do you feel only government can grant those? Do you believe, in our current political climate, you have intrinsic access to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness or have you been relegated to accept you are incapable of those on your own without the yoke of government? Would you be brave enough to sign the Declaration of Independence today or are you comfortable ceding control over your life to the government?

What does “freedom” mean to you?

#SOTU in three words and a drinking game

Social media is amazing.

We can use it to show people what we are currently eating , who we are with and what we plan to do next. We update our families and friends on our vacations, sporting events or just lounging at home. Businesses hope to get free marketing from it while consumers can spread the word on deals (or bad service) almost instantly.

Part of social media is the use of the hashtag…the pound sign…the tic-tac-toe board…the #!

Any particular subject can be made searchable by adding that simple character in front. Discussions online can be categorized and followed using these hashtags. And, thanks to these user-created categories, I bring you today’s blog post.

state-of-the-union-296x222The State of the Union tradition arises from the following line in Article II, Section 3 of the US Constitution, “He shall, from time-to-time, give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” While not required to deliver a formal speech, every president since Woodrow Wilson has made at least one State of the Union report as a speech delivered before a joint session of Congress. Before that time, most presidents delivered the State of the Union as a written report. Since the advent of radio, and then television, the speech has been broadcast live on most networks.

George Washington delivered the first regular annual message before a joint session of Congress on January 8, 1790. However, in 1801, Thomas Jefferson discontinued the practice of delivering the address in person, regarding it as too monarchical. Instead, the address was written and then sent to Congress to be read by a clerk and this practice was followed until the early 20th century.

How I wish that were still the case. Even better, in our age of technology, just post the text version of the #SOTU online so we can read it in our Facebook news feeds or from a link on Twitter. Instead, we are going to be made to sit through a cacophony of over-the-top applause from the sycophants, arms-folded scowls from the obstinate and circus-like chicanery from the leads of both the House and Senate. We might as well queue up our favorite calliope music to play in the background the entire time the speech is going.

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill in WashingtonWe are going to be treated to well over an hour of promises, edicts, vehement calls for change and a showcase of biological props in the gallery to illustrate all of the points being sold by the President of the United States of America. We then have to sit through the minority response, the alternative response, the off-the-beaten path response and the ever elusive who-gives-a-damn response. THEN we get to sit through hour after hour of political analysis. We’ll have the propagandist wing of the Democrat party, aka the Mainstream Media, telling us how brilliant and amazing the speech was. Many will even dare to predict that the current falling poll numbers will get a much needed bounce. Turn a channel or two either way and you’ll have the opposite view doing their best to convince the audience that the president has sealed his fate as a lame-duck and a pariah for any Democrats running in the 2014 midterm.

tumblr_lybfd7jwJC1qzx3jto1_1280Which brings me around to the point of today’s blog. If we must be forced to deal with this travesty of what our Founding Father’s envisioned, many have devised coping mechanisms to get us through tonight’s ridiculous display. Let’s all play the #SOTUdrinkinggame! Take a moment before tonight’s speech and come up with a list of terms/phrases/words that you believe will be used over and over again. Anytime you hear the #POTUS (President of the United States) utter anything on your list, take a drink. Here’s a partial list of what I plan to use tonight:

Items that result in taking a shot

  • Fair, fair share (or any variant of the words equal, equality or same playing field)
  • Government is a good thing
  • Global warming
  • Increasing the minimum wage
  • Economy growing (or any positive spin) based on my policies
  • Unemployment dropping (or any positive spin) based on my policies
  • It’s the right thing to do
  • Wage gap
  • Gender gap
  • War on women
  • Affordable Care Act is working (or any positive spin)
  • Healthcare.gov is working (or any positive spin)
  • Any stats that are used to backup any of the above
  • And for each guest invited by the administration who is called out in the gallery

Items that require only a sip (or you’ll be passed out before it ends)

  • I
  • Me
  • My
  • Mine

Another game that will be fun to play started this morning on Twitter by fellow blogger, Michelle Ray (@GaltsGirl) called, #SOTUinthreewords or State of the Union in three words. See if you can come up with a list of themes that will define tonight’s #SOTU in three words. Here is my current list:

  • Who needs Congress?
  • Why Socialism works
  • Redistribution is good
  • Still Bush’s economy
  • Not my fault
  • I didn’t know
  • Ready to rule
  • Executive orders ready
  • Shredding the Constitution
  • Spreading wealth around
  • Errr…ahhh…ummm

There was a time when the State of the Union had it’s purpose, but that has long since been forgotten under the heavily crafted showmanship it has become. And, under our current administration, it might as well be named the State of the Coup, since this president has no problem enforcing parts of laws he likes, changing parts he doesn’t, and ignoring others as he deigns unnecessary. It’s like the worries of Thomas Jefferson have come to life with this Administration when they made it clear they came to rule and not to govern. 

Some final thoughts before tonight. One subject the President will definitely not touch will be the success of Governor Scott Walker’s conservative policies in Wisconsin. I’d be shocked. He cannot afford to shed any light on policies that succeeded to which he is diametrically opposed. He will not waste a single breath on reducing the size of government. He may say he has a plan to reduce the debt, but when you go through the litany of new programs he plans to offer, it won’t take a mathematician to realize it’s just another lie meant to placate the low-information voter. He will play to emotions, but will not once employ logic. He will pull at the heartstrings, but he will not apply reason. In short, he will pander to his followers like the Pied Piper, playing a mesmerizing message to those who want nothing more than to be lied to and told everything will be all right.

And for that reason, I’ll be playing the #SOTUdrinkinggame with much gusto. It’s about the only way I’ll be able to make it to the end.

2014sotu_blogheader

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,100 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Will the real Messiah please stand up?

“Abolish God, and the Government becomes God…Wherever the people do not believe in something beyond the world, they will worship the world. But, above all, they will worship the strongest thing in the world.”

— G.K. Chesterton

“Well, you’ve touched on it to a degree. He made so many promises. We thought that he was going to be — I shouldn’t say this at Christmastime, but — the next Messiah.”

— Barbara Walters

barack-obama-haloWhen I was in my early 20s, a man I greatly admired once asked me, how did early governments keep people obedient? I stammered something irrelevant and nonsensical about laws and soldiers. He smiled, took a slow and deliberate drag on his cigarette, looked at me over the rim of his glasses and said, “Religion.” He went on to explain how in the earliest days of mankind, only a very small percentage of people were educated and those likely to be schooled fell into two camps: the clergy and royalty. Being learned, they realized they were vastly outnumbered by the rest of the populace. They needed to create a belief system to control the behavior of the people, thereby controlling the citizenry itself. What better way to ensure survival than the promise of paradise for civility and submission and eternal damnation for disobedience and anarchy?

The will to survive is one of the strongest drives we possess. Since our earliest days as sentient beings, this trait has become so embedded in our psyche that it’s nearly impossible to ignore and one of the explanations as to why we have religion, in all of it’s myriad forms. Humans want to believe there are bigger or greater forces at work with sway over our lives. We have an inexplicable need to believe in something outside of ourselves, whether it’s fantastical entities like God, Buddha, Allah, Cthulhu, Gaia or Mother Nature, or more tangible ones like science, mathematics or philosophy, just to name a few. The fact remains, we are wired with the need to believe in something.

As we have grown and evolved as a species, our knowledge and our capabilities have exploded. Sorcery and myth have given way to physics and logic. Yet, our underlying need for belief remains. We may never really know if the early clergy or royalty manipulated this belief to their own gain or if there really are forces at work beyond our comprehension. We can save that debate for another day.  What is of more interest is what happens if the idea of religion is diminished or eliminated? Doesn’t something have to fill the void?

The political class has been leveraging this concept for nearly as long as the invention of government. In much the same way our behaviors can be controlled through the dogma of religion, so too can the citizenry be controlled by political leaders when they convince us to place our beliefs into the collection plate of government.

George Brock Chisholm, Director of the UN from 1948 until 1953, went so far as to say, in a speech given at the Conference on Education in California on September 11, 1954, “To achieve world government, it is necessary to remove from the minds of men their individualism, loyalty to family traditions, national patriotism, and religious dogmas.” Looking back from where we are today, it becomes easy to track the progress that has been made toward this end.  Statists seek to limit or reduce the significance of the individual over the needs of the collective. The dismantling of the family has been a goal of radical progressives who seek to replace one (or both) parents with the state. Cultural relativists seek to rewrite history to remove the ‘stigma’ of patriotism and eliminate the belief in American exceptionalism. And, the assault on many of the tenants of Christianity have been underway for years. 

Today’s social liberals understand, to create a dependence on the state, other existing belief systems have to be curtailed. When a person has a well-defined and robust support structure around them, it is much harder to convince them to put their fate in the hands of the government. However, destroy the family structure, teach them there is no such thing as the “American Dream”, get them to question the merits of the Founding Fathers and shatter their belief in the relevance of the Constitution and now there is a void needing to be filled. We begin to look for a new foundation on which to place our faith. Sometimes that foundation becomes the pedestal upon which someone can stand who is willing to tell us everything we want to hear.

Obama MessiahThis helps explain the deification of President Barack Obama. Many conservatives struggled during the run up of the 2008 election to shed light on the wafer-thin veneer of Barack Obama’s “hope and change” campaign. They tried to reveal the danger in conferring such a deist-like mantle, which so many lauded without hesitation, on a mere mortal. A confluence of circumstances, however, created the perfect environment for the nomination and election of someone who promised everything to everyone. From free phones to extended unemployment to increased social program spending to the promise of cheaper and better healthcare, the never-ending list of largess promised from the coffers of the federal treasury made it feel more like we had elected Santa Claus than a President. After all, there was plenty of wealth to spread around and, at some point, everyone has made enough money. No one in our nation built their businesses on their own. It was time for the Occupiers to be recognized as the 99% who did all the work while the 1% took all the rewards. It was time to take from each, according to their abilities, and give to each, according to their needs.

And the more the naysayers forecast doom and shouted warnings about debt, unfunded mandates and impossible to fulfill promises, the bigger the giveaways and the more popular the President became.

No one had paid attention to the words of Valerie Jarrett, co-chair of Barack Obama’s transition team, to Tom Brokaw of NBC on November 10, 2008, when she said, “Given the daunting challenges that we face, it’s important that president elect Obama is prepared to really take power and begin to rule day one.” Not govern. Not support, defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States of America, but to take power and rule.

hrzgal.obama.08And he has been allowed to do just that. His status as a near deity was not about to be challenged. After all, he ran on the mantra, “Change we can believe in.”

Over the last five years, the Executive Branch has played fast and loose with which laws they choose to enforce (or pieces of them) and which they will not. The lies and obfuscation mount daily on one scandal after another, from the targeting of conservative groups and individuals by the IRS (where there is obvious collusion between the FEC and the IRS)  to the “what difference does it make” cover-up surrounding the Benghazi attack. They continue to obfuscate the facts around the gun running operation, Fast and Furious, that led to the deaths of two Americans and countless other Mexicans. Instead of seeking answers from Eric Holder and the Justice Department, the government chose to sue the state of Arizona for enforcing the laws of the United States and the state of Texas and North Carolina for enforcing voter ID laws. The NSA has been revealed to be spying on anything and everyone, not just around the globe, but in our own country and nothing has been done to rein in these mass data sweeps and unwarranted seizures supposedly protected under the fourth amendment.

And, speaking of amendments, let’s look at the damage that has been done to three of them as a result of all of the aforementioned scandals: the first (IRS), second (Fast and Furious) and fourth (NSA). The only amendment they seem to want to keep 100% intact is the fifth!

Now, with the culmination of this executive power overreach, Americans are being forced to deal with the abomination that is the Affordable Care Act, aka, Obamacare. Millions have already lost health insurance and millions more will follow. Enrollment is abysmal and the young, healthy enrollees the government counted on to offset the older, sicker ones, are non-existent. By a ratio of 3 to 1, enrollees are being placed in Medicaid instead of a private insurance plan, promising to break an already overburdened social program. The national website, Healthcare.gov, ended up costing in excess of $600 million dollars (HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified that $677 billion had been allocated thus far, but could go higher). This is roughly 13 times what was budgeted and it still does not work. Add to that all of the patches and fixes being kludged together and the cost will exceed a billion taxpayer dollars wasted on a website that should have never been launched in the first place. obamacare-identity-theft-cartoonThe security flaws alone make it a national security risk and by the latest count, over 700 fraudulent sites have been built by identity thieves to mine the treasure trove of personal information available to them thanks to the sheer stupidity of a White House too smart to listen to anyone but themselves. It’s like President Ronald Reagan so famously put it, “The trouble with our Liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.”

Maybe those who have been beguiled by the promises and the incessant campaigning of the President are finally starting to see the serious flaw in the deification of any politician. Like Barbara Walters admits, expecting Barack Obama to be the next Messiah was too much to ask. Maybe now the tendency of so many to turn their gaze the other way with respect to all of the political scandals in Washington, D.C. will fade. Maybe those who put all of their faith in President Obama will start to realize he is only a man.

Perhaps, he should have been properly vetted, like any other candidate running for any other office. Perhaps we should not have taken it on blind faith that he would be the panacea for all our ills. Perhaps we should have realized how shortsighted it is to blindly give our allegiance to a politician based on the promise of a few baubles and an award-winning smile.

Human beings may be wired to put their belief in something but, when forced to place that belief in something as flawed and weak as a single human being, we should not be surprised when the biggest lies being told to us aren’t from that politician, but from ourselves. It’s time to put our beliefs into something bigger and stronger.

There is still time.