America, what promise?

I think I should end this day, early though it is, on a positive and inspiring note.

What is America?

I think this post captures it beautifully. I hope you find it as thought provoking as I did. May we awaken tomorrow to the promise of a better America

The Rio Norte Line

AMERICA’S FLAG OF 1812

WHAT IS AMERICA?

America is MORE THAN a COUNTRY, a PEOPLE, a CIVILIZATION, or a GOVERNMENT.

When one studies the history of America’s founding, America SHOULD NOT EXIST.

WHY is America here?  Why are INDIVIDUALS still GIVING UP EVERYTHING THEY HAVE, FRIENDS, FAMILY, HOMES, risking LIFE and DEATH to get here?

WHY ?          DREAMS

DREAMS of a FUTURE; a FUTURE, where ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.  For ALL time, For ALL FUTURE generations.

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people   ……     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…

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A difference of opinion – collaborate on bipartisan solutions or “fight”

a house divided...

a house divided… (Photo credit: tray)

During the debate last night we saw so very clearly the two dramatically differing philosophies on how to make things happen in our government.  The difference between the experience of Governor Romney who successfully navigated a democratic legislature contrasted with the lack of results posted by the current President of the United States.

Perhaps the most powerful indicator of the President’s philosophy was demonstrated after Governor Romney described how he worked cooperatively with a Massachusetts legislature dominated by the Democratic Party to produce many successful results.  President Obama’s follow-up discussion was laced prominently with the term “fight”, describing how he had his fights with the legislature; fights President Obama said needed to happen.  The President views these exchanges as fights to be won rather than solutions to be developed together.  For President Obama, “open to reason and debate” means “I will explain my position so you can agree with me.”  Even within the President’s own party he has very few allies.  Eleanor Clift’s recent post in the Daily Beast contained the following statements :

“… Obama doesn’t have many friends on Capitol Hill in either party. He has allies for sure but hasn’t worked to develop personal relationships. Some think this is a fatal flaw…”

“One adviser who did not want to be quoted recalls gently suggesting Obama might want to invest more personal time in courting members of Congress. “He looked at me like I was telling him to do 10 root canals.”

Nancy Pelosi has even muted the President during meetings while he was speaking to the room!  Russell Berman of “The Hill” posted:

“In one scene during negotiations over the 2009 economic stimulus package, Woodward reports that when Obama called then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to discuss the bill, she put the president on speakerphone so that the group of Democratic lawmakers in her office could hear him, according to a report in The Washington Post.

But when Obama began making an “uplifting speech” over the phone, Pelosi pressed the mute button.

Why has the President failed to develop relationships and why has he alienated so many democrats and republicans alike?  Simply, because he doesn’t think it is important and he hasn’t been willing to sacrifice his work-life balance to forge these relationships and help move our country forward.  Work-life balance is commendable, but every President should know going into the job how demanding it will be.  That is part of the sacrifice expected from our President as part of his service to us, the voters.

“Fight” and ram through legislation only when you have a majority?  Or work together to craft lasting, bilateral solutions.  It seems like an easy choice to me.  I will take the person who is willing to work with an individual regardless of his or her political inclination and respects the opinions of all.  America deserves it.

No Middle Ground?

The partisan nature of our recent political history raises a question as to whether there is any middle ground remaining? Left and a right, Republican and Democrat – only one can win, right?

There is no doubting the fact that one party, one candidate must win and one must lose. The middle ground isn’t necessarily the parties or party lines, but rather the voters. I do not believe the voting public is so clearly polarized as the political party extremes. People are complex. Their needs, thoughts, questions, desires and life experiences vary, often dramatically. It is entirely possible to have someone who believes strongly in abortion, is against drilling in national parks and is open to raising taxes; but is a hawk on military matters, is a fiscal conservative, believes that entitlement programs must be trimmed and the government needs to get out of people’s private lives, and wants to see greater controls on immigration. Truly. So do you exclude these people from your party?

I don’t believe this to be a rhetorical question. I think there is a group of people in that middle ground who believe in a meritocracy, true freedom of speech, and want their children to have a shot at the American dream because they worked hard and earned their way to success – they don’t believe in an entitlement society. How many families have a registered Democrat and a registered Republican? I am sure there in some middle ground happening there.

So here is the opportunity. Some of the folks I mentioned above probably voted for the current President last time around. Without a doubt the positions the Democratic Platform conveyed at their recent convention alienated some of those voters. They missed out on the key issues, and instead drove home conversations about special interests, class warfare and dependency. The current administration’s policies have left some of the voters I mentioned above feeling mislead, disillusioned. Alienated. The Democrats have built a party line that is totally dependent on fear, division and anger. They are close minded and exclusive.

This is an opportunity for the conservatives to capture that middle. I have written previously that every election comes down to choices. We have a choice between a party led by President Obama that wants to keep moving forward on the same path, is delusional about whether we as a country are better off and wants to consolidate and centralize their power and build dependency. The other choice is a party led by Mitt Romney who believes that our country needs a drastic change in direction including fiscal reform, a robust private economy and a democratic process.

democracy's chorus

democracy’s chorus (Photo credit: howard.hall)

So in reality, “the middle ground” is the battleground. That middle ground is full of the people who can and will make a difference in this election. Believing there is no middle ground is a slippery slope. Once you believe that, there is no reason to “reach across the aisle”. There is then no reason to have constructive conversations and plant the seeds of hope and change. Instead, people tend to get lost in the focus on “winning the argument” or getting in the best insult; something we see all too often in the partisan environment today. Every “smackdown” of an undecided voter is a small battle lost. There is plenty of middle ground out there and it is ours to take.

Republican Values? Or American values?

Thought that might get your attention. The message coming out of the ruling party’s camp in recent days has been that we should all be dismissive of the individuals that spoke at the Republican Convention. Think about that for a moment. What is it exactly that is so “bad” about all these people?

• That they are “successful”?
• That they are articulate?
• That they seem to be caring and involved?
• That they are daughters and sons of immigrants – some first or second generation?
• That they had strong supportive words for family and the family members that positively influenced them?
• That they are fiscally responsible and in case after case, righted budget deficits. Many times without raising taxes?
• That they are polite?
• That most, perhaps all, have a religious affiliation?
• Many were businessmen and women, or were sons and daughters of entrepreneurs?
• That the messages they received from family and mentors when growing up was one of hope, dreams, drive and accomplishment?
• That they have held jobs and earned incomes?
• A positive attitude that we can make things better?
• That many were minorities?

Am I missing something here? These would seem to me to be qualities to emulated, not to be embarrassed of, right? I mean really, who among you thinks, “You know, I really hope my child doesn’t have any economic success when they grow up?” Or perhaps, “I hope my child grows up to be a self- centered jerk and I sure hope they are rude. And, wow, that whole optimism thing really gets on my nerves, you know? Actually, I hope they never have job – I mean really, the dream is to have someone give you the money. You know, someone who actually cares about us?”

For three days, I heard people relate positive vision, inspirational stories. Not how “someone” is trying to keep you down. I heard intelligent young people telling me how they took action to make things better in states and districts where they come from. I heard about people who came from humble backgrounds and through the efforts of grandparents and parents and family made their way to success and that wanted something more for their children and were willing to work for it. Not the language of hate and division. I heard stories of people that were not defined by race, gender religion or social class, but by the visions they had and the passion in their heart to achieve.

I surely can’t imagine the Democrats they would have issues with the fact that many speakers were of a differing ethnicity or female, right? I would hope the fact that it was a diverse group would be uplifting to everyone. Where else in the world could we see something like that?

Or is the issue simply that they are all Republican? Ok, stop hooting and hollering here. The point isn’t that they are Republicans. The point is Republican or Democrat is simply a political viewpoint. The point is that if you do accept all those qualities I listed at the beginning of this discussion – success, caring, responsible, and so on – as “positive”, and further, if you accept that those are qualities we would hope to see in our children, then really the only thing that is “bad” about this individuals, is that they are “Republican”. So does the sum of whether you are a good or a bad person, whether you lie or tell the truth, comes down not to content, not to the “body of work” of your life, but simply, which political party you belong to?

A number of news sites and political wonks have denigrated the group of individuals that participated in the Republican Convention, being so crass as to use terms like “trotting out brown faces” and other racially charged statements to try to take away from the accomplishments of these men and women. Suggesting that they accomplished nothing, and that only through tokenism are they in the position to speak. Essentially suggesting that they “didn’t build that”. Really? That is the legacy you want for your party? If you are diverse and a success, but you don’t vote for my party, you only got to where you are because of “special favors”, not because of your abilities. That is pretty offensive.

The news we have been getting from the Democratic Party is dominated by language divisiveness and of meanness. Ok, let me say there are some jerks out there on the left and right. I think we all know that, and most of the people out there tend to try to filter out those on the far left and the far right. They are extreme views, and yet they can be jerks. But I think a party chairperson is selected for the purpose of being representative of that party. These aren’t accidental; there is some deliberation that goes into this selection. The individual selected by the Democrats is one of the meanest, nastiest people I have heard in a long while. This individual is so far to the fringe, she has been taken to task by CNN media for her views and citations. If you haven’t already seen this clip from CNN, check out this link of Debbie Wasserman’s view for a very interesting view as to why accurately quoting someone or telling the truth doesn’t matter. Really?! The types of appointments can tell you a lot about the person. What does this tell you about our current President and the administration? I have yet to hear this person say a kind word about anyone. And the same goes for a positive word – everything is negative.

Ultimately, I hope everyone makes informed decisions about candidates during something as important as a national election for our President. But there is a huge volume of how much a candidate represents me, which in the media speak of the day means how much the candidate seems to be like me. Go back and look at the qualities I listed at the top. Do those feel like qualities that represent you? I know that they resonate for me. My spouse and I are the children of immigrants. There are entrepreneurs and employees in our family. My own grandfather started as a janitor and studied chemistry books in the evening so he could learn enough to work his way up to a Plant Superintendent position so my family would have some of the opportunities that we have today. I hope that next generation has that sort of opportunity and our children exhibit those very qualities demonstrated by the speakers.

I would love to hear the stories of your families and positive influences they have had on you.

The American dream is worth saving – together we can still fix it …

Ok, you know I am wound up if you are getting something like this from me. In general, for quite some time I have avoided getting into what I felt were often, heated, emotional, non-logical arguments over political parties and candidates. Let’s face it – I, like hopefully most people, cannot be adequately or accurately portrayed by a single party line. However, this year something happened. Actually, the “something” has been happening for some time, gradually creeping into our lives as we were seduced by the apathy brought on when things are pretty darn good. I am actively, vocally involved this campaign, because I believe this particular election is the most critical; the most important, election in 150 years. I am convinced we are at a crossroads. The economy is important, and a fundamentally powerful part of the overall equation. But this is about more. This about whether we remain a free, democratic country. Whether we will continue to be a land of opportunity for all people regardless of their social status or demographics. A country that values hard work and families and caring. This is about whether the American dream is finally placed in a box and buried out back.
Four years ago a new President was voted into office with the promise of “hope” and “change”. He was not my choice, but he was the President of the United States of America. I am first an American. As I mentioned above, I am not described by a party. Believe it or not, I have been a registered Republican, Democrat and Independent at different times in my life. So regardless of whether I voted for the new President , after the election I was going on with my life, with some hope, however slim, that maybe, just maybe, some of the promise and rhetoric about “reaching across the aisle” and bi-partisan approaches would actually be realized. Perhaps progress to reign in a financial sector ruled by cronyism would be made. Lip service to small businesses would give way to positive actions. Because only through bi-partisan discussion, agreements and lawmaking can you truly solve problems that unite a country instead of divide it. This is important.
Results and actions speak for me far louder than words and always have. What is clear to me is we have a government that is more divisive than any other we have seen. A ruling party that spews such hate and vitriol, and lives under a double standard for appropriate behavior. That promotes such a general meanness and pettiness. A ruling party that derives its power from cronyism, fear and dependency. A ruling party that promotes resentment of success and hard work, and thrives on and encourages the divisions that occur when fanning the flames of misunderstanding. A ruling party that despises the thought of a family or a community working together. A ruling party that drives censorship of thoughts and opinions. They will decide what we should think, who should get what and how it should be distributed.
I believe this strongly. So strongly, I am breaking my code of silence and privacy. I am joining the local Republican Party Office and I don’t know what all I can do, but I am going to do so something. Yes, I have long working hours. I travel a lot and don’t get to spend enough time with my family. But for the next two months I am going to do something – stuff envelopes, make coffee, answer questions. And since I am breaking my silence, I am going to go so far as to ask each of you to do the same. This is too important to sit back on a sofa and bellyache about what is happening – we have to do something constructive. And I will try to do it in such a way as to be inclusive. To spout insults and vitriol back is a losing, partisan proposition. To get people to come together on the issue of a United States of America is our objective, not to get a quick “feel good” over having a better insult than the “other guys”.
The Republican Party set the right tone at the convention, and we heard from a number of exciting, articulate, successful and yes – inspirational – young governors, senators and congressmen, and finally – businesspeople! I watched this group of people and was encouraged and energized. There are people out there like me. That believe in the things I do. Which raised the question – what am I going to do about it? Sit back and watch, complain and hope “they” all go out and fix things? I don’t think so. I have to do my part, and here is why. If in each city, suburb, or community in America, there is one person as concerned as I am, and we can fire up 10 or 12 people to take up the cause, we can keep the American Dream from dying before our very eyes. And I am convinced that if I do nothing; if we do nothing; and this ruling party is re-elected, all the hopes and dreams I have worked so hard for, all dreams I have for a better life for my child, for a good life for my family….all of those die. We can’t let that happen. And, to parody Patton’s quote about “at least you won’t have to say, I shoveled shit in Iowa”; when my grandchildren ask me “grandpa, what did you do in the great election of 2012”, I won’t have to say, “Well, I drank Lite beer on my sofa and complained about how bad things were”.
It is easy to find your local offices. Just type in “find my local Republican headquarters” into a search browser. Or start at the state level by your state plus “gop.org” (E.g. http://www.pagop.org or http://www.azgop.org and so on). Give them a call and get started.
I hope you are with me.