The election is over. Obama won; Romney was shellacked. The New York Times' Nate Silver has been showered with accolades and declared adept. Fox News' Dick Morris was pummeled with ridicule and labeled inept. The majority of my family members, self-proclaimed liberals, are both elated and relieved. My conservative friends and family are surprised, deflated and scared.
The electoral vote has been tallied; Obama: 332, Romney: 206. But we all know it's not over. This is a deeply divided country. Where do we go from here? It is readily apparent that many Americans are living in alternate and incompatible universes.
In 2012, eighty-four percent of our states voted just as they voted in 2008. The talking-heads blamed Romney's defeat and credited Obama's victory on: rural vs. urban, old vs. young, single women vs. marrieds, takers vs. makers, black vs. white vs. brown, the top one percent vs. food stamp recipients.
"Versus" was, and is the dominant theme of American politics. Opposing beliefs are so strident that talk of secession abounds. Incredibly this extreme action is being supported by seemingly credible politicians. http://paul.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2029:secession-are-we-free-to-go&catid=64:2012-texas-straight-talk&Itemid=69
The 2012 election did not take place in fifty states; it took place in just nine: Ohio, Florida, Iowa, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Virginia, Nevada, Colorado and Pennsylvania. Less than 20 percent of our states were bombarded with ads and/or visits by the candidates. Forty one states were simply taken for granted; they were simply ignored. Illinois or Hawaii citizens rarely saw Presidential ads; Obama and Romney visited them not for the purpose of earning their votes, but rather to garner cash for the purpose of cajoling swayable voters in those nine anointed states. Likewise, Mississippi and Alabama were ignored; their voting preferences were assumed. Not surprisingly, they voted overwhelmingly Republican. Why would they not? They never heard from the Dems.
Since four out of five states in election after election are considered irrelevant, the citizens of these deeply blue or red states are self-educated; they are political home-schoolers. They are introduced to and confronted with few new ideas. Rarely are they challenged to question their belief system. Views are reinforced by neighbors who share their political preferences, religious beliefs and prejudices. They may watch Fox, or MSNBC, but seldom both. They listen to either Rush Limbaugh or Ed Schultz, and confirm what they "learned" over a beer at the local bar, the church potluck, or while playing bridge.
The more Internet-savvy, younger Blues and Reds post tidbits from The Drudge Report or The Daily Kos. They self-select, share, and agree. The result: opinions harden, mistruths remain unchallenged, and our nation's divide becomes less bridgeable.
We read what we want to read, see what we want to see, and listen to what we want to hear. Is this dilemma insolvable? Pompously, I propose a solution. In the 1950's there was a well-intentioned but now fingernail-scraping-on -blackboard uncomfortable program called, "Take a Negro to Lunch Day." As repulsive as this now sounds, its intention was well-meaning. It was a crude attempt to facilitate communication between peoples of different life experiences for the purpose of bringing them together. I suggest a similar program, but with the more acceptable name, the I'll Show You Mine, If You Show Me Yours Program. I outline the program's steps below:
A. Find a person you can tolerate on a personal level, but with whom you have diametrically opposing political beliefs. Simply put, you consider him or her a political moron but a nice person and he or she feels the same about you.
B. Set aside one two hour session per week for four consecutive weeks when both parties can meet alternately in each other's living room, den or home theatre. Avoid conflicts with Monday Night Football, or Celebrity Apprentice.
C. At each session, the host will choose a politically charged show to view. The conservative host might choose Sean Hannity,and the progressive's choice could be Rachel Maddow. The host also gets to choose pork rinds or imported brie as a snack,
D. Watch the show together, unarmed, and in SILENCE. Following the show, discuss what you have seen and heard. Calmness and lack of violence would truly help.
Perhaps just perhaps, somebody might learn something.
One last word: It is my strongly held belief that truth rarely lies squarely in the center between the extremes… Rachel Maddow and Sean Hannity may both be dramatic and strident, but one of them is more often factually correct. I leave that for you to decide when you and your friend agree to participate in I'll Show You Mine if You Show Me Yours.
Sweet Jesus, let her get her period?
What the hell is that bump on my nose? Don't let it be cancer.
God, what do I write about today?
Thank you lord, I will write about you!
Wait a moment, I know nothing about you. I Google "God;" select "images" and up pops over 2 BILLION pictures. However, not one would qualify as acceptable identification for voter registration in Wisconsin.
I could peruse volumes of words produced by PhD's, Doctors of Divinity, and clergy wearing all l kinds of funny hats to find out about you. But truth be told, not a single scolar would have verifiable firsthand knowledge. Many have debated and cogitated over how the concept of you developed and changed over time; you know, that Zeus to Jesus thing.
That's it, you are a concept. And until I am convinced otherwise, you shall exist only as a concept. If I openly declare a nonprovable concept is a tangible thing, I run the risk of being classified as delusional. I have enough problems; I don't need more tsouris.
It probably makes little difference if people believe the nonprovable. Some of my best friends and family members are delusional. Kids believe in Santa and the Tooth Fairy. Many of us pray that a loved one gets better. People ask for god's help to survive all kinds of life crises. What does it hurt? Probably little, unless, you are a parent who relies solely on god to prevent peritonitis developing from your kid's burst appendix or you have a delusional President.
We should all have gigantic reservations about our Presidents relying on god for advice on making tactical decisions. Delusional Presidents are not a good idea.
The United States Constitution's Sixth Amendment states, " no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States. " We all know this is simply bullshit. An atheist or Humanist being elected President is less likely than the Cubs winning two consecutive World Series titles. MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell recently pointed out that our media virtually never examines a candidate's religion, but it continually demands that a candidate prove that he or she is faithful. One can believe anything as long as one is a believer.
Deist-based religions possess patently ridiculous beliefs, many of which are deleterious to modernity. Rarely do they expunge erroneous beliefs until science proves them wrong or social pressure forces them to back off.
It took The Church of Latter Day Saints 129 years before allowing African-American men to become priests in 1978. Mitt Romney was 31 at the time. Of course this is rapid compared to the Catholic Church waiting 390 years to apologize to Galileo for claiming that the Earth revolved around the Sun. Thousands of years have passed, yet the rejection of LGBT people, and inequitable treatment of women continue to be core beliefs of orthodox Judeo-Christian and Islamic religions. God evidently is pretty stubborn.
Let's face it, unless a candidate is a raving, delusional zealot, he or she must be aware that some of the tenets of their religion are nuts. If humanity is to survive, it needs to separate its governance from lunacy. Thus:
I PROPOSE: the following brief mandatory religious test for all Candidates for President of the United States of America:
Religious Test for the Presidency
Judaism: "You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD."
Christianity: "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them"
Islam: “...and you should forgive and overlook: Do you not like God to forgive you? And Allah is The Merciful Forgiving.”
Mormonism :"whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them, for this is the law and the prophets"
Question 1: Do you, as candidate for President of the United States of America, believe in the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"? "(Note: you may refer to any or all of the above religious writings for guidance).
Yes ____ No _____ It depends on who the you is ____
If you answered "No" to the above question your test is complete and god help us all if you're elected
Question 2: In your own words, list three specific beliefs or tenets of your religion that violate your religion's "Golden Rule" (Hint: treatment of women, homophobia, revenge, death penalty etc)
Extra Credit: In your own words, list or describe two beliefs held by your religion which modern science has credibly shown to be incorrect. (Hint: Genesis)
If you answered the above questions truthfully, you may be our first honest President. Regrettably, you should know that you are now unelectable.
Several years ago I saw a film about two hotel maids. In this film, whose name is beyond my recall and my googling ability, one young maid asks the other, “What are rich people afraid of?” Her friend, and fellow housekeeper responds, “Not being rich.”
Perhaps, that is the problem. The super-moneyed of this nation are just insecure. The oil baron Koch brothers are frightened. Billionaire casino owners, Wall Street manipulators, and those incredibly affluent CEO’s of the US Chamber of Commerce are terrified. That’s it. That’s why they spend their waking hours and hard earned millions on electing and influencing office holders. They are protecting their stuff. And their tactics seem to be working.
GingRich blames the poor of this country. Fraudulent mortgages, and concocted derivatives were not the culprits. The financial instruments that caused our country's economic chaos were food stamps. Ya see, it’s simple, there are just too many poor folk (aka Blacks) who love to get something for nothing. That S.O.B. Obama is taking our money, giving it to those greedy bastards (his people), and they are using food stamps to buy cheese for their kids. That’s the problem; it’s those people of color using food stamps. It’s obvious and it’s intolerable!
Romney (did you ever notice that 83% of his name consists of M-O-N-E-Y?) , a man with a net worth of hundreds of millions, who is building a twelve million dollar home so his grandkids can comfortably visit, pays an effective tax rate of 15% , yet audaciously accuses Obama of inciting the “bitter politics’ of envy.” My God, (Santorum’s advisor) that lying Obama has the chutzpah of making food stamp users envious of hard-working, job-making billionaires. The envy should be in reverse. Go ahead, name a billionaire CEO, who, given the opportunity, wouldn’t gladly give up his/her busy, mind draining day to live in the urban slum, have no worries and live off food stamps.
Those maids were so correct. It is exhausting to unceasingly plot, bribe, cajole, influence and lobby day after day to protect your billions. Guarding your wealth demands that you call for an end to the EPA and its regulations. The compulsion to protect your bundle demands sacrificing the future health and safety of your children and grandchildren. Your station in life demands this sacrifice. Jesus, (Rick Santorum, again) what a terrible drag.
And to top it off there are no guarantees. It is core rattling to think that the Romanovs of Russia had it all, and then, lights out. The Bourbons of France masterly had all working smoothly when, in a flash, they lost it all, including a couple of heads. They labored and toiled. They controlled the government, the courts, the religious leaders and whap, gone in an instant. Is there no security?
Romney’s, GingRich’s and Santorum’s puppeteers pull the strings; they own FOX and the Wall Street Journal. Yet, there is no guarantee of keeping the wealth. Add in the pesky Internet with its capacity to inform, and mobilize, and your really have tsouris.
The Koch’s of the world have choices. (I know; last week, I said there was no free will, but I can’t help myself) They can purchase armed guards, razor wire, and politicians while simultaneously despoiling the world and manipulating the people of few means to blame those of no means, or they can use their wealth and its concomitant power to make this a better and safer world; they can invest in the future, not plundering, but building. If they do the latter, my guess is they will still have a pretty nice lifestyle; of course, they would still have to do without those food stamps. Matt 1/19/2012
Talking-heads, magazines, and Internet sites bombard us with the latest polling results. Breathlessly, they reveal Rasmussen's and Gallup's latest findings. They tell us how likely it is that Americans will vote for President Obama. They provide us with a statistical inkling of how Romney or Gingrich will fare. They inform us how Americans feel about the economy, or how much we trust the President or Congress. They have irresponsibly ask their scientifically balanced samples if Obama was born in the United States. They poll Americans on a vast array of topics. There are other questions that need to be asked, but will likely never be asked because, if queried, the resultant numbers may show us who we are.