Partisanship is destroying our republic

Partisanship is destroying our republic

Partisanship is destroying our republic

It’s time to face the fact that our political system has become corrupt. When something is corrupt it has become unable to function according to its intended purpose. It’s time to fix it.

I am convinced that political partisanship is the purveyor of that corruption, and my indictment is on the system, not necessarily the individual office holders.

There is no provision in our U.S. Constitution explicitly establishing or protecting political parties, yet they are the nuclei around which the political process orbits.

They have become so pervasive an influential that we accept them as a matter of course. And the two major political parties have become so entrenched that they make all the rules that self-perpetuate the system, formally and informally, throughout all levels of government.

When loyalty to political party supersedes commitment to the general welfare of the United States, or to the individual states and communities, our days as a federal republic are numbered.

I am concerned that we are at the tipping point in which the dominant political party installs its autocrat and seeks methods to protect their grip on power. And their financial supporters are all too complicit, because it suits their economic interest that owe no allegiance to any sovereign other than their stockholders.

When our decisions are driven by labels instead of logic we enter into a vicious spiral of mistrust and dysfunction. For that reason, I hereby disavow any allegiance to any political party solely because of its label.

But if you demand a label, let me be called a ProgressiCon.

I am progressive in the sense that we all must seek opportunities to make our circumstances better for all. No citizen should be left behind through no fault of his or her own.

I am conservative in the sense that I support maximum individual liberty, with reasonable boundaries that prevent abuses of liberty. No one has the right to exercise their freedoms to misuse, abuse, harm, or defraud others in any way. One cannot redefine what is legal in order to make it right.

Three factors lay at the root of partisan divide: honest differences of opinion, massive egos, and wanton greed.

I have no issue with differences of opinion. That is, so long as they are informed differences. I allow anyone his or her opinion. But if they cannot support the basis for their opinion with valid factual information, their opinion is not credible. That’s why I must disavow loyalty to a political party. Both parties cherry pick facts and massage the truth for their own ends.

I have no use for outright lies, reinventing historically documented facts, or knowingly misrepresenting facts to create an alternative narrative. After all, doesn’t the Ten Commandments say, “Thou shalt not create an alternative narrative?

Some people are power hungry and seek political office for the position power it provides. Yet they have no personal power–no moral authority–because of their behavior, language, and self-aggrandizement.

Some people seek office because they understand the golden rule of political power: those that make the rules decide who gets the gold, and that those who have the gold usually get to make the rules. This, I believe is the number one corrupting influence in our political system–self-serving greed.

My solution

Rid the political system of partisan advantages that have crept in over time. Do these things:

  1. Make all elections at all levels of government non-partisan. Eliminate all partisan primaries. One is registered as a legal elector, and that’s enough.
  2. Elect the President and Vice President by popular vote.
  3. Create a public commission on federal elections that establishes a national primary process for identifying candidates for president and giving them national public forums to present their ideas and credentials. Voters will eliminate the unpersuasive candidates in one or two national primaries. For a semifinal round, the top vote-getting candidates will form into four tickets for President/Vice President. The top two tickets will face off in the final general election.
  4. Place congressional redistricting in the hands of a non-partisan commission that adjusts boundaries without regard to incumbency. Do the same at the state levels.
  5. Create a public fund for elections. All contributions to the fund, both private and corporate, are fully tax-deductible. Funds lose their contributor’s identity and are distributed equally among candidates. Individuals may contribute to individual candidates up to a legal amount per election. All donations are public. Issues committees may promote candidates they support, and all donors, private and corporate, are made public. The makeup of each political or issues organization must report the names of all organizers, officers, and paid staff. Total transparency!

We are at a fork in the road in our republic.

We can go down a road like the one we are now on where we citizens allow special interests and self-serving officials to divide us and get away with lying and creating alternative truths in the name of political partisanship.

Or we can choose the road on which we see through the lies and deception and reclaim a spirit of civility that allows differences without demonizing the different. We can choose the road where leaders of character and moral courage stand up to intimidation and bullying to assure liberty and justice for all.

Which ever road we choose will make all the difference.

The blessings of liberty

The blessings of liberty

The blessings of liberty

I’m thankful that I get to live in a nation that bestows so many rights on its citizens. I enjoy these blessings simply because I was born in the USA – born into freedom as a citizen of the United States of America. The other 96% of Earth’s living population was not.

 

At this time of Thanksgiving, celebrated in the USA as a distinctly American holiday, I would like to reflect on the Pledge of Allegiance that I grew up saying, and am still proud to recite. The Pledge of Allegiance expresses the ideal state of the union, not necessarily the way it has played out historically. We have a lot to work on to realize the ideals, and every generation of Americans must share its burden of the quest. I am thankful and proud to be an American–a citizen of the United States of America.

 

I PLEDGE…  This is an individual decision. We enter into pledges as statements of solemn promise to do certain things and not do others. A pledge is personal. Perhaps, we take the Pledge of Allegiance so lightly because we learned it in mass as children and recited it as a ritual without meaning, like so many ritualistic sayings we utter mindlessly and soullessly. But I take the Pledge of Allegiance personally. I mean it when I say it.

 

ALLEGIANCE TO…  Loyalty and devotion. Consider how you act toward a person, a cause, or an organization to which you are devoted. You cherish and nurture the relationship and would never put your personal interests above the well-being of the relationship. I don’t just live in the USA, I have a relationship with the USA.

 

THE FLAG OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND TO THE REPUBLIC, FOR WHICH IT STANDS, … A flag is a symbol. A symbol evokes both an intellectual and an emotional response. All organizations use symbols to convey their identity and values.

 

The name of our nation represents a relationship between the parts and the whole. The states have agreed to entrust authority to a central agency to help meet mutual needs that the states cannot individually meet for its citizens. Some needs are simply too big and complex for individual states to tackle alone. We do this as a republic, in which we the people select those who will represent our collective interests at various levels: cities and towns, counties, states, and as a nation. We are not a monarchy, Our President is not a king. Our President is entrusted with the office for no more than two terms, and while in office, the President is expected to devote full time and attention to one thing–to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

 

ONE NATION… A whole entity. Our pledge is to a single nation that is a complete entity. This is the same attitude as being a member of a family, or a group, or a team in which personal self-interest is secondary to the needs of the whole body. I am especially troubled by the notion that some global corporations act as if they owe no such loyalty to the countries in which they are domesticated. They not only hold themselves above those nations, they attempt to influence public policy and laws so that the corporation’s interests are held above the interests of the citizens of those nations. To them I ask, if an individual can commit treason, and if a corporation is granted the same rights as an individual, can a corporation commit treason?

 

UNDER GOD… We answer to the higher authority within us that inspires us to our better selves. We respect all expressions of faith, hope, and love. If God is love, as Christians claim, then our patriotic duty is to love all others as we love ourselves, is it not?

 

INDIVISIBLE… We will not let differences in philosophy, perspective, or values, destroy our republic. Furthermore, we will expose and resist those who would try to divide and destroy our republic from within or from without.

 

WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL.  We have declared it from the beginning, “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.” There are no exceptions to the, “for all” clause. No exceptions for race, color, or creed. No exceptions for gender or gender orientation. No exceptions for age. No exceptions for social or economic class. No exceptions for religious affiliation.

 

So, I give thanks that I have the privilege as a natural born citizen to live in a nation where these ideals are believed, and I will do my utmost everyday to assure that these ideals will in fact be our normal practice in all aspects of our governance and way of life. Furthermore, I will call into account anyone, no matter their station in life or their position in power, who claims the blessings of liberty for themselves, but denies them in word or in deed to others.

 

Such is my pledge.

The secret sauce to success

The secret sauce to success

The secret sauce to success

Tonight I can’t sleep . . . again.

For all my life I’ve been able to fall a sleep almost immediately when my head hits the pillow. No chemicals needed.

But lately my mind is restless.

The years are slipping by, and I have so much yet to do. So much to leave for those who come after me. So much to say that might make a difference to someone asking the same questions as I.

So tonight I sit on my second-story balcony. A refreshing breeze bristles through the towering cottonwoods and elms, chasing the remains of a hot day southward. Their limbs stretch over my head, shielding me from the direct wind. I am perched among the branches as if I were in a tree house. I love this place. It is my safe haven–my retreat.

I reflect on many professional and personal successes; yet, as I look forward, I am discontent. There is so much more to do–important and exciting things to do.

Success is short-lived and fleeting.

They say that success breeds success. I say it also breeds restlessness. I accept that I am getting older. A look in the mirror tells me there’s no getting around that. Deep down inside, this aging man has the heart–the spirit– of a twenty something, and becoming irrelevant terrifies me.

Retirement is out of the question. I cannot bring myself to it. All that I have become, I still am. All that I am is only a fraction of what I can yet become. My expectations of living enlarge daily, and when my time is up, I will, no doubt, have left much undone.

I meet many, of all ages, who are looking for the secret sauce of success–a shortcut. How to’s, top tens, best practices of those who made it. We want to know how they did it. But when they tell us, we’re disappointed, because the answer is always years of showing up every day, to do the work of one’s passion. Even that’s not a guarantee of overnight success. There is no easy way.

Here is what I have learned from experience and observation.

Your true work is a manifestation of your true creative self. It comes from the essence of your authentic self: your I am. If you are not doing that kind of work, you are living beneath your privilege. Success comes from that place.

Answer these four questions, and you can get on your way to that kind of success:

  1. What do I want? This is your purpose. It should be the answer to the question, “When my time is up, what do I want to have achieved?” The answer to that question does not require a value judgment on your life purpose. The sole criterion is that it is authentically you.
  2. What must I do to get what I want? Regardless of whether you plan everything to the tiniest detail or go with the flow, you must do something to get something.
  3. Am I able to do what it takes to get what I want? Do you have the knowledge, skill, fitness, and resources to pull off your plan? If not, you must get them, or adjust your expectations of what you want.
  4. Am I willing to do what it takes to get what I want? One would assume that passion and desire go hand-in-hand, but many have given up on a so-called dream because the going got too tough. This is about the grit to go over, under, around, or through the obstacles that come from discouragement or lack of the resources.

I am continually reinventing myself–evolving. My restlessness and sleeplessness are part of the transformation. They won’t last. They will give way to a calm restfulness as my creative energy deepens the resolve to realize my purpose, which is to write. To be a bard, a storyteller. I got a late start at the craft, and I am learning as I go.

And I am clear and certain of the source of my creative energy–the essence of my soul. It is to INCourage the spirit; to INLiven the heart; to INLighten the mind, and to INLarge the expectations of living for myself and others. To live each and every day INPowered. This is my secret sauce.

What is the world according to ME?

What is the world according to ME?

What is the world according to ME?

July the Fourth evokes some sad feelings in me because of something that happened to someone I never knew several years ago.

The Independence Day parade was over for this seven-year-old boy. He rode the parade route on the back of a flat-bed truck with other members of his Taekwondo academy, sitting on the edge of the bed with his feet dangling over the side. As they reached the parade disassembly area, the truck hit a pothole, jolting him off the truck and under its rear wheel, killing him. His father was driving the truck.

Why does that tragedy affect me so strongly? I don’t know either the boy or his father. Tragedies happen daily. But, it so happens, my six-year-old grandson also was riding on the truck when the accident happened. I am a father and a grandfather. I know how dear my children and grandchildren are to me. Although I have not suffered such a tragedy personally, I can imagine what it might feel like to tragically lose one of my darling grandchildren.

Have you ever tried imagining what it would be like to be someone else? I mean to actually be them the same way you are you right now reading this article. I have, but I wasn’t good at it. All I could think about was myself. I have no way of actually being another person.

No matter how diligently we try, we can’t be someone else. We can only be ourselves. I can only be ME. Therefore, everything that happens in the only world I personally know, happens from my point of view. My perception is my reality. Every moment of every day I experience the world according to ME.

And so it is with us all. Each of us only knows the world from his or her empirical reality–what we can see, hear, touch, taste, and smell. Every other understanding is imagined. But imagination counts for something.

Example: I don’t have to actually put my hand on a hot stove to believe that it would harm me. I can see what extreme heat and fire does to other objects. From that I can imagine what would happen to my hand and how much pain I could suffer and conclude that I should not put my hand on a hot stove.

What about empathy?

Empathy is my ability to feel other’s physical and emotional pain, or joy, because I have personally experienced something similar. I’m imagining. Perhaps you could empathize with those I described in the opening paragraphs. The closer your actual experience, the more you can feel with others experiencing similar life situations.

Shared experiences and causes

When the world according to ME is affected, it gets personal. It’s common for people who have similar experiences, especially tragedies or devastating illnesses or injuries, to team up in common causes. Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is one of the early ones that comes to my mind. Cancer survivors, military veterans, families with autistic children, those who have suffered discrimination for some reason, and many others speak to this trend. We are more likely to get involved with a cause when we have a shared experience related to that cause.

My point in all this

To really connect with the larger world around me, I have to venture out of my own protected bubble and experience the reality that is the world in which others live. If I keep to myself, or only surround myself with others as much like me as possible, I cannot comprehend the world according to anyone else. This sheltered world according to ME creates a distorted view of the world out there. The consequences to me include prejudice, stereotyping (profiling), blind spots about my own attitudes and understandings, and making important decisions based on faulty information and assumptions.

The world according to ME must be a world of inclusion, rather than one of seclusion, if I am to Live INPowered.

 

Liberate yourself

Liberate yourself

Liberate yourself

Sorry to lay this on you, but most of us live in some form of self-slavery.

We are slaves to our work. Slaves to our hobbies. Slaves to our passions. And for sure, slaves to our habits. Anything that compels us to act in a certain way, even when we know it’s not good for us, is our master, and we are its slave.

I’m not talking about the kind of slavery that physically subjugates people, such as the sex trade, or any indentured enterprise that keeps others subservient either physically or financially.

I’m talking about the kind of self-slavery that we give in to and that we could free ourselves from if we exercised some self-discipline to change our behavior.

Saying, “I don’t have a choice,” is pure-dee B.S. 90+% of the time. I’m leaving a little wiggle room here. I personally cannot think of a situation in my entire life when I did something contrary to my best interest that I did not have a choice to do otherwise.

Rule #1 of INPowerment. I always have a choice.

You might not like the consequences of it, but you usually always have one. It just takes the discipline to make it.

My destiny

is the the sum total of all the choices I made throughout my life that has brought me to this place and time. Fortunately, I’ve made some good choices. And I’ve also made some doozies that, for the grace of God and the kindness and compassion of friends and strangers, worked out better for me than, by all rights, they should have.

My point.

The self-discipline of making better choices might have meant that I would have avoided some of the pain and heartache I both suffered and inflicted.

Discipline

is just the inner strength to show up and do the right thing, even when you don’t want to or don’t feel like it.

Your choice.
Learn the freedom that comes from self-discipline and choose to Live INPowered.

Permission to speak up

Permission to speak up

Permission to speak up

You exploded into this world with a voice and something to say. You had needs, and you wanted them to be met, NOW!

Nothing has changed,except that some–too many–have forgotten how to speak up for themselves. Why?

I think there are three primary reasons some have lost their voice:

  1. They were told they had no right to speak.
  2. They were made to think they had nothing worth saying.
  3. They were intimidated into silence.

All are the tools of tyrants and bullies who want only their voice to be heard. They don’t care what you have to say, and they don’t want anyone else to hear it either.

But because you have the spirit of INPowerment, you have permission to speak. As a citizen of the United States of America, that right is constitutionally guaranteed. As a citizen of the universe, that right is unalienable.

It is worth saying solely because you have a need to express it. Your opinion is your take on the world as you understand it. Some of the most important breakthrough ideas were offered by someone who under valued their ideas. DO CENSOR YOURSELF. Offer your ideas and thoughts. Your idea or opinion might be the stepping stone to a breakthrough as your ideas challenge others to think in new ways.

Intimidation is a mind game. The tyrant gets inside your head and convinces you through threats, humiliation, belittlement, and other means that you are inconsequential. They shout you down and hover over you demanding your silence or acquiescence.

Where would we be today if our nation’s founding fathers and mothers had kept their silence? Where would we be today if freedom fighters and suffragettes had kept their silence? Where would we be today if spiritual leaders had cowered in the face of religious tyranny?

You must speak, especially in the face of intimidation.

You have permission to speak.

You have permission to Live INPowered