Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Reversal of Hope

By Daniel Perin

Well, my friends, it has begun.  In the two special elections held on Tuesday to fill vacant seats in Democrat Representative Anthony Wiener’s NY district and the Nevada U.S. Senate seat vacated by Republican John Ensign both were filled by Republicans.  I guess it should be no surprise.  However, it is terribly disappointing.  In an atmosphere that demands we throw all the senators and representatives out and start all over, it seems we have forgotten it is not only the person we may wish to defeat, but also the party.  In our haste to get rid of the “scoundrels” we have forgotten that party planks and basic philosophy are what we should be looking at when we seek to replace our representatives.

Frankly, I have my doubts that either the Republican or Democratic parties are up to the task of saving the country from further despair.  I would eagerly examine the position of any Independent candidate for any office in the coming elections.  I am a registered Independent.  I believe in the possibility of a middle ground philosophy of government that recognizes what the Federal Government can do that is beyond the ability of the individual states.  I believe there are things better decided on the ground in local and state governments.  Getting that balance requires thinking “outside the box” of traditional party answers.

It is clear to me that Republicans think that private business can offer us better advantages in stirring the economy to success.  (Look where that got us in the 1930’s and in the 2000’s so far.)  The Democrats seem to think that only government has the right answers.  Our Big Brother can take care of us.  (That hasn’t done so well either, considering the graft, waste, cronyism, etc.)

We all, or at least any of us who still believe in hope, have a great deal of work to do to educate ourselves about the original, constitutional role of government and the current demographic and economical issues that we must adapt to if we are to continue to be the world leader as a caring and competent political, social system.  The answer does NOT lie within the principles of the Religious Right or the Tea Party, both of which have serious agendas to usurp the constitutional rights of the individual and seek to establish a theocracy based solely on supposed “Christian” ideals.

The Constitution provides for the separation of church and state for a reason.  As a country that is NOT a “homeland” but rather an assumed country “taken” from the original occupants, it was recognized that we were, in fact, a melting pot that consisted of people from all over the world.  First from European countries, followed by people from every other ethnic and religious heritage.  We often resisted each new group.  They came seeking the freedoms we offered and the belief that anyone who works hard and contributes to our society could achieve their dreams.  But as each group became a part of our society we realized that we have become richer culturally, economically and socially.

Somewhere along our journey we have forgotten the potential contribution or become threatened by “foreigners” who we fear will take over our county.  For heaven’s sake, folks, we are ALL foreigners and to forget that is to build a class society restricting the freedoms of those we believe will weaken us if we don’t watch out.  Nowhere is this more evident to me than the vitriol expressed personally against Barack Obama.  Never in our history has there been such contempt and obvious disrespect for the office of the President of our country and for the man personally.  I am saddened, angry and frustrated by this.  I see the roots of this negativity in the fear that a “foreigner,” a “slave” somehow tricked his way into being elected, because certainly no black man could possibly deserve or earn such a coveted position.

Today there is a strong movement that has as its agenda to remove most of the constructive changes we have made to become a more inclusive society that gives all of its members a greater sense of equality and hope for their future.  Religious fundamentalism would put a Christian God in charge of the country and demand all come to their knees in obedience to the exclusion of other religious belief systems, including those with no religious belief at all.  This agenda includes a return to second-class citizenship for the black community (putting them back in their “place”). Additionally, it wants to return women to the sub-class of obedient homemaker subject to the will of their husbands.  Of course, this also means no freedom for women over their own bodies.

When people in a society give the most exercised response of shouting and clapping because Governor Perry has executed more people than any other governor, or yells out support for letting a person die if he doesn’t have insurance to cover his hospital and medical needs, there is something terribly wrong with that society, or at least those in the group that has lost their sense of decency and compassion.  This is NOT the country I want to live in.  Well, I’m NOT leaving.  I am going to stay right here and continue to speak out.  I am going to continue reading and listening to a variety of sources in an effort to understand what is really going on behind the media scenes.  We are all subject to selective information.  You have to really dig to get closer to the truth of what is going on.  I hope I am not alone in this effort.  I don’t care what your particular philosophy or religious or political position is, if you have not examined the basis of your beliefs lately, you are out of touch and need a refresher course.  Things have changed.  They are continuing to radically change.  We can be a constructive part of that change or we can wait and see what happens  (as we are carted off to some isolation camp because we are a threat to the status quo).

No single source of information will give us all the answers.  That is why we need to examine many sources of information, and not just settle down with what seems comfortable at the time.  I have come upon a book that has offered me another look into the machinations behind the scenes that is causing the social unrest and frustrating efforts of those with different ideas of what can be done to improve this country.  It is, Republican Gomorrah:  Inside the Movement That Shattered the Party, by Max Blumenthal.  It is one view, but by no means the only view of how people gain power and use that power to destroy the rights of others.

There has been a reversal of hope for many of us who were excited by the “I can” chants supporting Obama’s run for the Presidency.  There is still reason to hope, but nothing will come of it if we just sit on our hands and fail to get busy in whatever way each of us can to discover, support and vote for responsible representatives.


  1. Three thoughts Dan:

    1. We are seeing one of the complexities associated with trying to bind 50 diverse states with diverse economies and diverse people together. The internal tension is unavoidable.

    2. We are witnessing one of the limitations that accompanies democratic self-rule inherent in our governance model. We elected leaders rarely make decisions and rarely plan for the future.

    3. All things economic are cyclical. What is missing right now is a major, technological innovation, which inures to the benefit of virtually every living human, to kick start the global economy. We have not had one in quite some time. We need something like the Industrial Revolution, the airplane, the automobile, the computer, and the Internet. We haven't seen anything new recently, and nothing is really on the horizon. There was some thought that the mapping of the genome sequence might be that spark; however, it has not materialized.

    There is no practical reason to have hope, no matter what one's philosophical or political leanings. Technology drives most things in the social universe, and how different countries respond to that technology separates the haves from the have nots.

  2. Inspector:
    Thanks for your comments, always thought-provoking. Here is my response:
    1. Yes, there is “tension” between trying to balance state’s rights vs the Federal Government’s role in maintaining the viability of the union. There are many specific issues relating to this and working together, using honest facts, requires constant effort on the part of representatives and an educated citizenry. Let’s hope we are not beyond civil discourse in this matter.
    2. The apparent inability of our elected “leaders” to solve today’s problems, let alone plan for the future is perhaps the most astounding evidence of the incompetence of those of us who elect them in the first place.
    3. That “all things economic are cyclical,” is not a satisfactory excuse for not making an honest effort to understand the elements of the cycles and find creative ways to resolve them, thus perhaps evening out the ups and downs. This should be one of the first priorities of a responsive government, from the White House to Congress and to Statehouses and city government. Since we have lost thousands of manufacturing businesses—not jobs, businesses—we certainly need to focus on re-creating our manufacturing genius. That is a whole separate, but essential part of regaining economic stability.
    4. Finally, there are ALWAYS practical reasons for hope. Hope in my mind is part of the creative imagination process. Dreams precede invention. Invention precedes construction. Construction provides jobs, goods, economic progress. I will keep hope alive, difficult as it may be faced with the “what’s in it for me” political structure we live with today.

  3. Thanks, Dan. I shared on my FB wall.

    "Keep hope alive!" --Ed Baer, quoting Jesse Jackson


  4. Thanks for responding Dan:

    Several thoughts:

    1. I strongly suspect that neither political party really knows what to do regarding the economy, nor do the experts, although they have opinions and theories. (If you want to really check out their level of confidence, ask them to guarantee the stated results of their anticipated policies, and then require them to put up their family assets resulting in forfeiture if they are wrong.) The problem is simply too large, complex, and interconnected with economies of other nations, over which the US has no control.
    To fix most things in the universe, you have to get them to “sit still” at least for a short period of time, and suspend those outside factors bearing on the problem. This is a dynamic situation. If we as a society actually knew what worked, and could establish a cause and effect relationship with any certainty, we would have done it by now.

    2. Human emotion is a factor with which we have not yet figured out how to deal. Governance is actually about management, and because our governance model emphasizes "freedom," it is richer and more complex, and it also is more problematic. Put people under economic stress, and they become even more seemingly irrational. I call it the "herding cats" model.

    3. When I said that there is no practical reason for hope, I was referring to the perspective of the average, every day citizen. In order for people to aspire to achieve something, there must be something down the road which they see or think they might possibly attain. If they see nothing down the road, they will not be sufficiently motivated to pursue it. Right now, society does not see the light at the end of the tunnel, and thus no static hope. In theory,we should hope that Hope should always be part of the individual, human dynamic. However, it isn't.

    For someone with lots of money right now, they might have lots of hope. For someone with decent, but far less money right now, they might vacillate between hope and despair. For someone with little money, the vast majority of their outlook is filled with despair, not hope.

  5. 1. I agree that we are at a point where neither party knows (or cares) what to do. This is reflected in a recent poll that shows a majority of people would not even vote to re-elect THEIR OWN CONGRESSPERSON! They are so far astray that a comeback is going to be accomplished only through radical upheaval, hopefully before it is too late.
    2. It may be that human emotion is difficult to figure out, but I personally believe that is largely due to the failure of so many to allow it to be expressed. When it bursts out after so much suppression, it is often destructive and is subject to scorn rather than looking to understand where it is coming from.
    3. As to hope, the subject is one of perspective (isn’t everything?). To appearances hope is in short supply, especially for those who never had an opportunity to discover it in the first place. That said, there are always “lights” shining in the darkness and those of us who believe in hope need to make sure ours is shining for those lost in the darkness. Maybe this is a little metaphysical, but metaphysics is also part of our greater reality. Again, we must not hide our lights under a bushel basket.
    4. Money plays a huge role in one’s outlook to be sure. However, that is one of the things that must eventually change if we are to get at the roots of change. It is easy to use the lack of money as a reason for our limitations, but there are many examples of those whose lives demonstrated a different value base. For me, it comes back to our basic value/philosophy for that colors everything in our lives. And once again, each one teach one, let your light shine for those who have not yet discovered their own light.

    Always good to discuss these ideas with you, Inspector!!