Calling all patriots, anarchists, do-gooders and other trouble makers, lend me your eyes!
So what is this essay all about?
The purpose, intent, and ultimate goal of this treatise, if we can call it that, is threefold:
1) First and foremost is the soliciting of responses from average, everyday people (as opposed to politicians themselves), with respect to how they view the current state-of-affairs--both in the United States and the world at large. This is a chance for those who suffer from political rage (as opposed to road rage) to vent, rant, and otherwise expound on what they see are not just the problems, but the good news stories as well. Who are today's real-life heroes and, of course, the worst of modern-day villains.
2) Second is the proposal for a hypothetical contest of sorts--an imaginary competition whereby a group of WDC judges for whom politics is their raw meat of choice might read, review, and score each entry on the basis of a few simple rules. While the appropriate awards would need to be determined, all submissions would be read, acknowledged, but never judged in terms of being right or wrong, superior or inferior, appropriate or inappropriate. The judges themselves would make their final decisions based solely on issues of clarity and practicality.
3) Third is the rather unique opportunity for writers, philosophers, psychologists, would-be politicians, and wannabe rescuers of a "broken" system, to have their say about things, take a stand--and a chance--and submit their work to people who actually care about what you've written. Each response would receive a personal reply from one of the judges. Sort of like the Supreme Court as regards contests and the like.
In addition, all winning entries would be edited for grammar and spelling, then printed and mailed to an indeterminate (as yet) number of state representatives, senators, and selected delegates. The reason for awarding this final benefit is explained in greater detail further on, and forms the primary basis for the contest idea in general.
A quick disclaimer:
I am not particularly qualified to write this essay. I make no claim as to possessing any special education, knowledge or skill that positions me above any other writer with respect to the matters covered.
A lot of folks who are smarter and more articulate than I am, may well find a number of misstatements and inaccuracies that I've inadvertently included in my composition. Please know, however, that any and all such errors are unintentional and purely the result of my personal rambunctiousness.
So little of the kind of material that follows is found here at WDC or elsewhere among similar writing forums, that one of the chief purposes of this essay is in helping to fill the very void to which I refer. Without debate, it is acknowledged that this article is neither the first word about the subjects addressed, nor does it portend to represent the last in any way. Indeed, it might be viewed and read as a beginning only.
Be that as it may, the following work should provide a stimulating read for those persons who find the subject of politics not altogether abhorrent. For some, this rather lengthy dissertation may provide new insights which are atypical of the topics discussed, while granting others a rare glimpse into one of the lesser known attributes of the U.S. Constitution.
Oh, Say, Can You, Please?
The World According to Me!
Another Clinton for president? Another Bush? Seriously?
Fathers and sons, husbands and wives. What's next, aunts and uncles? I thought dynasties went out with ancient Egypt and China, but apparently not in contemporary American politics. We might as well build another Great Wall along our southern borders while we're at it.
Among all the heated topics that pervade the modern psyche, none is more incendiary than politics, with religion and taxes placing second and third respectively. Indeed, politics and religion so closely overlap nowadays, are so nearly contiguous, that to suggest they are practically one and the same would not be much of an exaggeration.
Such thinking is especially true within the more conservative community, where morals and ethics derive from Judeo-Christian ideals. By contrast, liberalism relies heavily (though no solely) on secular humanism as the moral guidepost for its values and convictions. This is not to say, however, that politics and religion are inseparable, but only that international affairs have forced the two together -- in some cases perilously closer than ever before. And nowhere is this more true than in the Middle East.
Signs of the times -- times that try men's souls, as American "founding father" Thomas Paine once suggested. If you find that these and a multitude of other issues, whether political or religious in nature -- or current events in general -- have grown increasingly vexing, then the following essay might be of interest to you.
Although many people yawn, or their eyes glaze over at the mere mention of politics (or religion), the importance and relevancy of the topic to our everyday lives has dramatically increased over the past couple of decades. And while the division between global happenings and political events has also shrunk to where virtually no separation exists whatsoever, the gaps between liberalism and conservatism, Democrats and Republicans -- already at a historic high -- appear to be widening by the moment.
One of the more interesting aspects of the Vietnam war and the street protests which eventually played a role in ending our military involvement there, is the fact that a large segment of the American population possessed either no real opinion about the war, or claimed to know too little to take a stand, one way or the other. Thus while scores of thousands of citizens were touched personally by the conflict, millions of others went about their daily lives, with Vietnam being little more than an international news story playing nightly on prime time television. Not until a steady toll of causalities combined with no end in sight, no victory in the offing, did nationwide public opinion finally force a rapid and disorganized end to the war.
I believe history is repeating itself today, whereby large numbers of people are again disengaged and largely disinterested in both politics and world events. Once more, a huge segment of the American public is disinclined to become overly excited about governmental affairs and other matters -- all of which demand an acute awareness both of who the players are, and where truth falls victim to lies. As if the government learned its lesson from Vietnam and high casualty figures, a passive citizenry remains idle and relatively quiet while a multitude of civil wars ravage the rest of the planet. Much of which is again relegated to television news programs.
Confusion, misinformation, misrepresentation, and purposeful distortions are the perfect recipe for ensuring public apathy on a big scale. Piling complexity upon complication, the small but significant number of those who are politically active and aware, similar to the Vietnam era, are once again making their voices heard. And politicians (on both sides of the aisle) are apparently listening.
This time around, however, it's the conservatives, the so-called "Tea Party" people, who are prepared to start marching in the streets, whether figuratively, literally, or both -- and the liberal Democrats who strive to defend the establishment and the status quo of a bloated, centralized government.
"Oh, sure, the country has its share of problems today, but nothing we haven't been through before. Things will all work themselves out in the end." I hear this same attitude expressed, in one form or another, by most people with whom I discuss politics -- or try to. I also hear ancient echoes, voices of Romans in the last days of the empire, most of which no doubt expressed similar, if not identical sentiments.
How many times is a nation granted the ability to reform and recover before the option to do so is no longer possible? Where is the breaking point, when a country already in decline due to the hemorrhagic effects of widespread fraud, corruption, and abuse of its authority, faces the final, death-knell toll of economic collapse?
And yet, in spite of everything, even casual discussion of these matters outside small circles of both fans and fanatics alike, leaves most people cold and quickly bored. The true cause for this indifference is, I believe, not a result of the lackluster nature of the subject matter itself, but rather due to the inherent contentiousness when discussing emotionally charged opinions -- many of which can and do result in personal, accusatory attacks and insults.
Understandably, many folks choose to avoid the potential negative feedback, or direct confrontations that might easily result from expressing their opinions regarding today's controversial, hot-topic issues. Indeed, in modern-day America, participation in religious or moral arguments may often prove more productive than debating the pro's and con's of politics in general, and liberalism versus conservatism specifically.
Certainly one of the reasons for a reluctance to speak out, whether in speech or written commentary, is based upon a lack of confidence in one's own awareness or understanding of the circumstances related to political situations. For instance, who among us is equipped to intelligently debate the ever-evolving events taking place in the Middle East? Within America itself, the country is poised at the brink of a massive showdown among a well entrenched Democrat establishment, an unfocused Republican conglomerate, and a staunch conservative base known as Goldwater, Reagan or Tea Party Republicans.
The stage is set for a vicious conflict that, for now, is reserved to vituperative exchanges alone. Conditions in the country are such that widespread reform and recovery are no longer part of the debate itself, but rather what, and by whom, needed rectifications will be implemented. Especially pertinent are questions as to whether or not more severe measures, such as amendments to the U.S. Constitution, have become necessary if not unavoidable altogether.
Back in the day, so to speak, many of the intrusions and controls exercised today by the federal government, such as education, our food, or immigration enforcement, were left to the individual states to monitor for themselves. A fledgling EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) did little more than oversee what the states considered were their own (and private) concerns as to what constituted certain hazards both to the public and the environment. Religious issues and Second Amendment gun rights were almost exclusively the realm of the states alone to adjudicate.
But over the past half century or more, a kind of political tide has turned in America, whereby the states have abdicated increasingly more of their constitutionally granted powers, in favor of bolstering a stronger and ever larger, centralized bureaucracy. Among elected officials, in both houses of congress, the once all mighty separation-of-powers clause of the constitution has grown blurred, all while senators and representatives appear less responsive and more insensitive to their constituents -- perhaps more than ever before in the nation's history. In every pole ever taken, voters overwhelmingly reject the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) and yet politicians on both sides of the issue continue to fund the program and strengthen its control over our lives.
And still, most folks are disinclined to voice their opinions or take a stand. Especially in written form. Well, since WDC is a website for writers, it seems only natural to encourage and support those persons who might feel inclined to state their case. Especially if an interesting forum was provided for doing so. Maybe not, but as things exist presently, the notion is indeed a no-lose proposition. But what, some will legitimately ask, is to be gained from such a gleaning of ideas and opinions? Many of which are thrown gauntlets from the very start.
This is a great question and it deserves a good answer.
I envision a sort of open invitational, if you will. Complete with guidelines and rules of decorum, people from all walks, as they say, of all religious denominations, whether liberals, conservatives, moderates or none-of-the-above, can join the party (no pun intended). Whether Democrat, Republican, Libertarian or librarian, everyone (willing) is invited to stand up, take a chance, and sound off.
Come one, come all, regardless of race, creed, or national origin. Regardless of citizenship status or what country you call home. No matter your education level or how much or how little is your knowledge of political and world affairs -- all are welcome. All are bid to use words instead of rocks or bottles, protest signs or candlelit vigils, in order to speak your mind. To let the world, and the United States in particular, know what you think of things. And how, if it were within your power to do so, you might change them.
Figuratively speaking, this would be an opportunity to meet in the streets, link hands, and march in favor of -- or in opposition to -- your issue of choice. Whether your concern is abortion, same-sex marriage, or a Palestinian two-state solution in the Middle East, a friendly and courtesy-based vehicle for dissent seems more in order than ever. Such a forum would, in theory, welcome and encourage those who would otherwise keep to themselves, preferring silence over vocal or written commentary.
Well, I, for one, and surely many others, secretly wish to know if our ideas and opinions are shared -- or disputed -- by friends, acquaintances, and strangers alike. Unfortunately such a desire to know what others think, and let them know our own thoughts, is asking a lot. Maybe too much. My proposal for the suggested forum may carry with it a curse of hyper-apprehension, if not outright fear and anxiety. If one is Jewish, for example, do we really want to know if someone we considered to be our friend, quietly harbors animus towards Israel? Or as a devout Christian, can we remain friends with a correspondent who, it turns out, is an atheist or suddenly professes a strong advocacy for Gay rights?
Many folks don't necessarily define themselves as liberal or conservative, let alone possess a firm grasp of what such labels even mean. Not until we discover, often much to our chagrin, that other people adhere to morals, values, and ethical beliefs far different from our own, do we then realize why such terms are relevant and important. For the many who would prefer not to know these and similar details about persons we have otherwise considered as our friends and valued acquaintances, a mutual interchange of political or religious opinions represents dangerous, shark-infested waters. We sometimes risk a great deal when wading even into the shallows of such discussions.
For some of us, however, we find it difficult not getting our feet wet, at least. Not so long ago, when the world seemed a simpler, less complicated zoo of political and religious revelations, I think we tended towards far more tolerance of others' views. Where persons positioned themselves in the arena of ideas, the things over which they opined seemed somehow more fanciful and less factious than today. Certain core beliefs, such as patriotism and morality, were assumed to be pretty much the same for most folks. And among those who differed, they were typically considered as delightfully eccentric.
In stark contrast, present-day America is a complex amalgam of both cohesive and divisive beliefs. Our feelings, impressions, and attitudes derive from a combined mix of politics, sex, the environment, and concerns over national and international identities. Fast paced, ever changing, volatile, and often tragic in nature, currents events play extremely important roles in our everyday lives -- whether or not we pay attention to them.
To the extent that we stay informed about world events, both local and international, our subsequent view of reality is based on this awareness. It plays out as a kind of figurative litmus test for whether our positions are mainstream, on the fringe, or extreme -- even radical in nature. Depending on how seriously we embrace our own views, the rationality (or lack of same) of another person's beliefs in what is true or false, and who the real liars and scoundrels are, is determined accordingly. Likewise our judgment of such people may well define our future relationships with them. Or the decision to dissolve these associations regardless of what other qualities may exist.
Consequently some of us, a lot more than you might think, want to hear what readers of this essay see as the good, the bad, and the ugly of what's happening in both the world and in America. How is your own life impacted? And that of the people you know, and others you don't. Speak now, or forever hold you peace, as they say. While you still can.
If you'll allow me, here now is the rub, in a manner of speaking. There's a lot more to all of this than meets the eye or the keyboard. A time is fast approaching where a court of last resort, as some would call it, could become a viable opportunity for average citizens to have their voices heard outside the limitations of typical elections. If implemented, not only would writers here (at WDC) have a chance for others to read their ideas and concerns, but a number of state senators and lower house members as well. All of whom represent legislative bodies that could, in theory, appoint special delegates to a rather unconventional convention.
A bit of historical background is needed before we can go any further with where my necessarily wordy missive is headed. Granted, it's aim is high-minded, even noble in what it hopes to achieve. As opposed to other topics, one of the vital ingredients that go into making politics interesting is a lengthy narrative that reads as a cross between history lessons and pontificating. A major factor in why so many are put off by the subject, I would argue, is due precisely to a lack of sufficient information, offered in the form of interesting details. What follows, then, is a general discussion of some of those particulars, related as succinctly as possible, but not so much as to make them otherwise worthless.
In the end, no amount of written argument may be long enough -- or short enough -- to convince anyone to author a single word in response to anything I say here. It might well be that no incentive is inviting or rewarding enough to provoke readers into exposing their innermost thoughts and concerns as to what is either wrong -- or right -- about the world, their country, or both. If all of my remarks are an exercise in futility, then so be it.
In the film, One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, star Jack Nicholson tasks himself with lifting an impossibly heavy bathroom sink and throwing it out a window. After failing the effort, he turns to his bewildered friends and says, "At least I tried."
This is the end to Part One. Part Two continues and concludes as a separate item under the same title.