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.
I am continually amazed at the hatred expressed towards President Obama by so many Americans. Before you get on my case, yes, I have frequently expressed my disappointment and frustration with this President, but frustration and disappointment just is not hate.
Every week my Inbox contains nasty jokes, vulgar cartoons and ridiculous rumors claiming Obama is a traitor, a liar, or the Anti-Christ. This is hate. What spurs this vitriol?
The cast of clowns masquerading as qualified politicians seeking the Republican Nomination agree on almost nothing, but they universally appear disrespectful when they mouth the word, "Obama." Seldom do they have the class to even refer to our elected leader as "President Obama." And the crowds cheer the derision.
Why do they hate this man? What the hell has he done or threatened to do to them? Please note: The US Chamber of Commerce, Koch Industries , Health Insurance CEO's, the Walton Family, billionaire hedge fund manipulators, and some CEO's may have some reason to hate Barack. He is a threat to their unbridled power and greed. But why does the real Joe the Plumber hate the man?
Some of my closest friends answer, with one word," race." While I concur that the melanin content of Barack's skin may serve to inflame and exacerbate the malevolence of Obama haters, it is not the whole truth. It is just another spice to add to the hate soup.
I believe the answer lies in two words, "makers" and" takers." And more importantly how fakers used these concepts to spread fear to the naïve of this nation. Google that couplet and see what pops up. I'll make it easier for you. The following popped up from the conservative American Spectator:
The Teixeira/Halpin/Obama/Democrat strategy of organizing the takers against the makers is reflected in the Occupy Wall Street movement as well. That movement reflects a pirate mentality, as they feel perfectly free to help themselves to the earnings, savings, and property produced by others. Wake up America, this is what Americanized Marxist revolutionaries look like. But their creepy French Revolution play acting with its implied threat of runaway violence is not in the American tradition, and consequently won't work with the American people. But it is in the tradition of Barack Obama, whose previous career was precisely as a Marxist street agitator. www.spectator.org/archives/2011/12/07/organizing-the-takers-against
Americans living a relatively good life are scared; they are insecure; they are terrified. They have been taught that they have a good life because they deserved it, they are makers. But, lying out there is Obama and his henchmen, conspiring to grab that hard earned wealth, that right to own a weapon of choice, that right to hate, even the right to pray. Worse, Obama plans to redistribute their wealth to the dirty scum, the TAKERS.
The United States Chamber of Commerce and its subsidiary, the Republican Party aren't worried about redistributing the wealth of the little guy. They are only worried about the distribution of THEIR WEALTH. And so these fakers spread the fable that there are two kinds of people in this world: the makers and the takers. If you have a home, a job, an education, a few bucks in the bank you are one of the people, the real people, a good American. Americans are makers..
Lurking out there are the takers: the evil ones on welfare, gangbangers, drug pushers, disgusting beggars, people living under viaducts, the unemployed riff-raff. Those lazy people, some named Juan and Jose', who are washing dishes, picking fruit and mowing Romney's lawn are the ones to be afraid of. These people want your stuff. While you are terrified, add to that list of low life, those lazy good-for-nothing government employees. They contribute zilch, but make life miserable, make us pay taxes, and regulate stuff. (I kind of think that the US Chamber is worried about their tax breaks and regulation of their right to treat workers, customers, and the environment any way they damn well please) And to top it off, those government workers still get ridiculous perks like health insurance and pensions.
The makers our GOP leaders never talk about are those who make billions. Never mentioned is how these billion dollar makers make hidden contributions to political campaigns in order to make politicians behave in ways to make them even richer. Never discussed are the corporate makers who, left to their own devices will make this world a cesspool, will make fair wages and good benefits things of the past. Heaven help people who stand in the way of the real makers, they are powerful and they are relentless.. Perhaps Obama is starting to make their lives a bit miserable.
The hiatus is over. I have returned from celebrating July 4th. Yes, this liberal loves fireworks and Sousa. I now sit less joyously at my keyboard exercising my right of free speech. Truth be told, (I hope that expression shall always be the guiding light of this blog) I am saddened by the state of our nation. It appears Michelle Bachman, who wants to take this country "bach” to 1776, is seriously running for President and is likely to win the Iowa Republican Caucuses. The Republicans are holding our republic hostage, threatening to destroy the U.S. economy by obstructing the raising of the debt ceiling unless our capitulating President cuts Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and withdraws his threat to increase tax revenues from those most able to afford it (can’t get Grover Norquist pissed). Could the end of our democracy be near?
By coincidence, a conservative friend sent me a terrifying email warning that the end of democracy is just around the corner. Respecting my friend’s privacy, I shall call him Joe. Joe is a good man; he is a veteran, a good dad, a good husband and a good grandpa. The intent of this column is not to attack Joe, but rather to reassure Joe that democracy will not end due to the misinformation in his forwarded email. He is worrying about the wrong threat.
I know your lives are busy and your Ipad is demanding attention, but take a few minutes to quickly scan Joe’s message.
In 1887 Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of
Edinborough, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some
2,000 years prior:
"A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a
permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until
the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts
from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes
for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public
treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over
loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship."
"The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning
of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these
nations always progressed through the following sequence:
From bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty;
From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency;
From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence;
From dependence back into bondage."
The Obituary follows:
Born 1776, Died 2012
It doesn't hurt to read this several times.
Professor Joseph Olson of Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul ,
Minnesota , points out some interesting facts concerning the last
Number of States won by: Obama: 19 McCain: 29
Square miles of land won by: Obama: 580,000 McCain: 2,427,000
Population of counties won by: Obama: 127 million McCain: 143 million
Murder rate per 100,000 residents in counties won by: Obama: 13.2
Professor Olson adds: "In aggregate, the map of the territory McCain won
was mostly the land owned by the taxpaying citizens of the country.
Obama territory mostly encompassed those citizens living in low income
tenements and living off various forms of government welfare..."
Olson believes the United States is now somewhere between the
"complacency and apathy" phase of Professor Tyler's definition of
democracy, with some forty percent of the nation's population already
having reached the "governmental dependency" phase.
If Congress grants amnesty and citizenship to twenty million criminal
invaders called illegal's - and they vote - then we can say goodbye to the
USA in fewer than five years.
If you are in favor of this, then by all means, delete this message. If
you are not, then pass this along to help everyone realize just how much
is at stake, knowing that apathy is the greatest danger to our freedom.
This is truly scary! Of course we are not a *Democracy*, we are a
*Constitutional Republic* . Someone should point this out to Obama. Of
course we know he and too many others pay little attention to The
There couldn't be more at stake than on Nov 2012.
Thanks, I hope you are not too terrified and have a few minutes left to devote to my ramblings. The original plan of this blog entry was to take apart this apocalyptical warning; pointing out its inherent lies. With that purpose in mind, I began to compose my article, but as I wrote, the email seemed stupider and stupider, leading me to Google “Alexander Tyler of the University of Edinborough (why can’t rumor mongers spell?). Of course, I was directed to Snopes http://www.snopes.com/politics/ballot/athenian.asp and unsurprisingly, discovered that 90 percent of this fear inducing message was bullshit.
If you made that visit you now know that the statistics presented were never generated by any known professor; Alexander probably never wrote what is quoted. This same warning with the same statistics was used in the 2004 election, and what the hell does land area won have to do with ones legitimacy as President?
So the question is why do bright, educated, well meaning people believe illogical crap? What motivates good people, people with functioning brains to readily accept misinformation? What makes a considerable portion of our country vulnerable to propaganda? Liberals often label these believers as racist, evil, or laugh at the naivety of the Joes of this country.
Instead of laughing at the consumer of these blogs, we should be recognizing the genius of this disseminated stuff. Its composers understand their readers and know the power and efficacy of scapegoating. It is to our peril to laugh at these emailed messages or write them off as utter nonsense.
Look carefully at Joe’s warning. The piece is saying that lazy, apathetic, violent, illegal, welfare sucking inhabitants of urban crime ridden areas of his beloved America are on the verge of putting him, the industrious, patriotic, peace loving, hardworking, middle class inhabitant of a peaceful neighborhood in “BONDAGE. ” He will become the slave of these non-God-fearing vermin. And now he is even in more peril with Obama, a black man in charge.
This type stuff works, it scares people. Scared people close their eyes, yearn to go “bach” to the good old days when rich people signed their paychecks and people of color knew their place. Most importantly scared people are ripe for manipulation and misdirection. FOX knows this, the Koch brothers know this, and Governor Walker knows this. The poor, the migrant, the welfare mom, the union worker, become the target. And it is working. Remember, Joe votes
We all get this stuff in our INBOX; don’t just hit “Delete;” don’t just laughingly share it among your friends. Instead, hit “Reply All” and open your mouth, confront and educate the senders of this stuff. To remain silent makes you a collaborator.
A few comments about American leftists and liberals condemnation. Whenever did we ever remain “stuck together”? I remember anti-war (the Vietnam one) being beaten up by “my country, right or wrong” thugs. We are separate peoples, those who have humanity in mind, not just our country.
The writer does not like “redisitributive” taxes. If so, then let the rich give back the 52% of the Bush tax cuts, they were an unneeded gift of the 1.7 trillion dollar tax cuts. The left does not hate guns and war, does the writer remember Harry Truman? He was credited with ending the war in the Pacific and he did it with a big gun.
Here is the E-mail that I got a couple of days ego. I personally did not want to respond but one of the Authors suggested for me to actually post this. So comments are welcome.
"Dear American liberals, leftists, social progressives, socialists, Marxists and Obama supporters, et al:
We have stuck together since the late 1950's for the sake of the kids, but the whole of this latest election process has made me realize that I want a divorce. I know we tolerated each other for many years for the sake of future generations, but sadly, this relationship has clearly run its course. Our two ideological sides of America cannot and will not ever agree on what is right for us all, so let's just end it on friendly terms. We can smile and chalk it up to irreconcilable differences and go our own way.
Here is a model separation agreement: Our two groups can equitably divide up the country by landmass, each taking a similar portion. That will be the difficult part, but I am sure our two sides can come to a friendly agreement. After that, it should be relatively easy! Our respective representatives can effortlessly divide other assets since both sides have such distinct and disparate tastes.
We don't like redistributive taxes so you can keep them. You are welcome to the liberal judges and the ACLU. Since you hate guns and war, we'll take our firearms, the cops, the NRA and the military. We'll take the nasty, smelly oil industry and you can go with wind, solar and bio-diesel. You can keep Oprah, Michael Moore and Rosie O'Donnell. You are, however, responsible for finding a bio-diesel vehicle big enough to move all three of them. We'll keep capitalism, greedy corporations, pharmaceutical companies, Wal-Mart and Wall Street. You can have your beloved lifelong welfare dwellers, food stamps, homeless, homeboys, hippies, druggies and illegal aliens. We'll keep the hot Alaskan hockey moms, greedy CEO's and rednecks. We'll keep the Bibles and give you CBS, NBC and Hollywood. You can make nice with Iran and Palestine and we'll retain the right to invade and hammer places that threaten us. You can have the peaceniks and war protesters. When our allies or our way of life are under assault, we'll help provide them security.
We'll keep our Judeo-Christian values. You are welcome to Islam, Scientology, Humanism, political correctness and Shirley McClain. You can also have the U.N. but we will no longer be paying the bill. We'll keep the SUV's, pickup trucks and oversized luxury cars. You can take every Subaru station wagon you can find. You can give everyone healthcare if you can find any practicing doctors. We'll continue to believe healthcare is a luxury and not a right. We'll keep "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "The National Anthem." I'm sure you'll be happy to substitute "Imagine", "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing", "Kumbya" or "We Are the World"...
We'll practice trickle down economics and you can continue to give trickle up poverty your best shot.
Since it so often offends you, we'll keep our history, our name and our flag.
Would you agree to this? If so, please pass it along to other like-minded liberal and conservative patriots and, if you do not agree, just hit delete. In the spirit of friendly parting, I'll bet you answer which one of us will need whose help in 15 years.
John J. Wall, Law Student and an American
P. S. Also, please take Ted Turner, Sean Penn, Martin Sheen, Barbra Streisand, Alec Baldwin & Jane Fonda with you.
P. S. S. And you won't have to press 1 for English when you call our country."