Your Politics are Making You a Tool
I've been listening to and arguing politics with friends and family for many years. Most of us have had an uncomfortable conversation at some time about the left or the right or some form of political pseudo-philosophy more than once. I have had a hard time, as of late, looking my children in the eye and pretending that this will be a good place for them to live.
Well, I've had a moment of clarity for all of you who identify yourself as being on the political spectrum in our country. It was an epiphany that I needed to write down before I lost the inspiration to get it out of my mind and into words.
We have all seen a great amount of divisiveness in the current administration. It's not the first time. While I find it distasteful and harmful to all of as human beings, an to the world culture, it is what it is. It has turned friends and family against one another. It has created a whole industry of haters and social media wannabes that we call the "24 hour news cycle" and it's setting us up to no longer be the great Republic that we are.
In a Republic, the ultimate power is in the hands of the people and should stay there. The dirty secret of any political system is that its people recognize that it IS in power. That it is legitimately in control and has the forcefulness, through law or military might, to protect the country that it's supposed to be governing. If, at any point, enough people become disenfranchised with its leaders, they will rebel in varying degrees and/or blatantly fight against those in power. Just about every government realizes this and fights to stay in power either by passing laws, spreading fear or creating divisions in society to cast blame on "those people" who are created scapegoats of the problem. (Insert your relevant hated group here.)
Is this productive or helpful to you? No, not at all. It misplaces your problems and focuses your anger on someone else, or some other political body. It allows those in power to stoke the flames of malcontent and focuses that energy on something else that is often out of there AND YOUR control. It does you - and everybody else absolutely NO good.
If you want to help fix problems in your life and altruistically, the lives of those around you, then you have to take personal responsibility to do it. Take that finger that is being pointed at everybody else – all "those people" who are causing your problems, and turn that finger around and point it at yourself. You are the source of your problems. True change comes from within. Every great spiritual leader has taught this.
To be clear, I am not saying you should go out and break the law or hurt anyone. Only in extremely despotic situations would that be the right course of action, and we are not there yet.
The Crock of Lies
If you're leaning Left or Right, you are being fed a crock of lies and half-truths by those in power trying to stay in power. The owners of the great media channels are politically aligned. There is no FREE PRESS. It no longer exists in the United States. Ronald Regan's administration killed it in 1985. He had good intentions, I think, but you know what road is paved with those.
Today's press answers to primarily money, and quite a bit of it. Billions of dollars. They have a certain following that they count on to make money and they like to make money. That's capitalism, right? Make money no matter what! So the media channels kowtow to the desires of their consumers, and believe me, they know exactly what makes you tick. They count on it all the way to the bank.
So does your political party. The want you in their camp. They feed you what you want to hear and push you towards the understanding of the world the way they see it. Either Democrat or Republican, vast amounts of money are funneled into political research on what makes their base stay with them and how they think. An ignorant population that is self-involved is all the better for them. They are in power and they want to be in power. Both the Republican and Democratic parties funnel vast resources into being in power, staying in power, gerrymandering political lines and mis-representing the other side. Seems like they spend more time and effort doing this, than either side spends on constructively fixing the problems for the citizens they represent. It's always some sort of game to figure out how to get that perfect sound bite on TV and take a jab at your political opponents at the same time. What's the opposite of progress?
The political powers want you to be upset, pissed-off and at that point where you scream out the window "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore!" They want motivated voters going to the polls and voting for their candidates, but more importantly, not voting for the other side. This has led to more and more attacks, more radical positions in our leaders and vast machinations in voter suppression and Political Action Committee (PAC) monies flowing into the politicians campaigns. Conversely, our politicians are more beholden to outside influences and hidden agendas because of the exponential growth in corporate funding.
Our Supreme Court traded away our Republic overnight when they condoned secret PAC money to flow in unlimited amounts into our election process. No more 'One man, One vote'. That's all gone. So is your democratic vote. Gone, probably forever. Now corporations can vote with their vast wealth in support of candidates that their workforce may not like. In effect, the board gets to vote twice, while us 'normal' working stiffs get to vote based on the information they tell us. The 2010 Citizen's United decision destroyed our Republic and your ability to vote based on solid information. Unlimited money can be used by "Super PACs" and Political organizations to push their agenda and mis-inform you without you understanding how the information was created, vetted or funded. Your politicians no longer have to tell us where their funding comes from. We can't see it, because the Super PACs don't have to tell. This was condoned by the highest court to protect first amendment rights. The spirit and letter of the first amendment is to apply to individuals, the press, and religious freedom to express their truths, not corporations and political committees. Sorry Mitt, a corporation is not a person or the people. And yes, I use the word "truths" on purpose.
We now live in a country whose two political parties use billions of dollars, thousands of people and media partnerships, to sway its population through propaganda and blatant lies. They trick us into voting for them so that they can stay in power without fixing any of the real priorities and without empowering and leading its population to a better life, and most of us just eat it up. Face it, they are parasites. They take money, people's time and resources without giving back what they have taken. To be fair, don't blame the parasites, they are just the symptom of the system.
Gerry meet Mander
Did you know that the winning political party in the United States redraws the political lines to define the pool of voters that they represent? They get to decide to a great extent how many Democratic voters vs. Independents vs. Republican voters exist within a political district. While it might not seem too dastardly, it leads to some unexpected results. When a political party takes advantage of this constitutional provision to redistrict, its called gerrymandering.
In the redistricting example below, you can follow how an uneven representation of two parties still leads to the minority of voters winning an election.
This was handily accomplished in the last redistricting that took place. The big difference was that in 2010, the Republican Party brought in experts who implemented sophisticated computer algorithms to really stack the deck in their favor. Democrats have tried to do the same thing, but the advanced technology wasn't available for them at the time. This destroys our democratic system by taking away the power of individual voting rights!
There is no such thing as "Fake News." Call it what it is –Propaganda or even Lies! Fake news is just a catchy term to misrepresent the truth, and soften or distort the facts. As Mark Twain put it:
They want us blaming others, pointing fingers at the opposite political party, ignoring their mistakes because we have embedded ourselves with a particular side. The further we identify ourselves with Left or Right, Democrat or Republican, Progressive or Moderate, the louder we become about how right we are and how wrong someone else is. Most of the time I think we're yelling to try to convince ourselves of our own semi-realistic position.
Trading our Freedoms slowly away
It doesn't take long for us to trade away our freedoms out of fear that the "others" will take it away from us. Just remember nine-eleven and the Patriot Act, which allowed the FBI to listen to your overseas communications without a warrant and secretly search your personal records. China is a great example of what could happen in our country if we let fear grip us too tightly. The Communist Party uses "Traffic" Cameras and Facial Recognition software to keep an eye on its citizens and monitors their movements with no fear of legal action from its citizens. We are dangerously close to this and parts of the Patriot Act could easily be used as a justification for doing it.
What can I do to help save this country for my children?
Rational and effective people don't yell at others for their opposing opinions. Rational people can have a productive conversation about what is right, and what is wrong. Rational people will listen to each other and weight the practical intelligence of an argument. These are some steps that might help bring back rational people to the U.S. political debates and its political seats.
1. Email or write to your Congress people and tell them that they have to re-instate the Fairness Doctrine in reporting the news. Yes, that's a real thing that was dismantled by our own government and we have been paying for it ever since. If we can get it back on the books, we can start moving toward a free press again. It will take time, but it can happen. Wikipedia article. Yes, I know its Wikipedia, but it's still a good source in this case.
2. Vote for RATIONAL PEOPLE. Avoid the extreme personalities, and candidates who have zero experience being a civil servant. It usually doesn't end well. Find people who can have real debates with others about long term issues that need to be solved for you and your children's future.
3. Write to your Representatives about appealing the Citizens United ruling. It was a 5-4 ruling and it has been very quickly destroying this country since it was enacted.
4. Listen rationally. If it sounds too outlandish to be true, too radical, and too crazy – it probably is. Radical groups are brainwashing people to join them using logical arguments based on half-truths and blatant paranoias. Groups like Antifa, the KKK, and QAnon are filled with people who have pushed rational thinking out of politics, brought in unfounded conspiracy theories, and many current politicians are listening to them.
5. Research and confirm your facts CAREFULLY before you start exposing crazy ideas as the truth. Look to peer reviewed sources, first-hand accounts and expert advise on important topics before you make judgements on where the truth lives. Look to multiple sources and scientific experts before you commit to believe. Never believe a in single story to form your opinion. It might be painful, but find your news sources from multiple sources across the mainstream political spectrum to create a balance of truthiness. Listen to the NEWS, not the commentators like Hannity or Maddow. They only exist to make money. Learn to separate facts from emotional appeals and fear mongering. If you really want to learn more on a certain subject, go to your local library and work with a librarian to find some credible resources.
6. Lastly, fight to take redistricting or gerrymandering out of the hands of politicians. It's been destroying 'One Man, One Vote' for far too long. Look into groups who are trying to get their State's process changed on how the electoral district voting boundaries are approved. Politicians should never be in charge of deciding who can vote for them.
With time and careful thought, we can save this country and bring the right to pursue liberty and happiness back to this nation. But it takes some real thought and a little bit of work to do it. If we all put in a little bit of work, we will see great things accomplished. If it fails and becomes what we don't want, we only have ourselves to blame.