It’s warming up and the snow is melting. Probably it will be gone by tomorrow. Surely by Tuesday. Then, a few warm days after which, who knows? February and March are the crazy months, weather-wise. Anything can happen and usually does.
Robert Reich: The Meaning of America
We are forgetting the ideals on which our nation was built.
By Robert Reich / Robert Reich’s Blog February 18, 2018, 2:33 PM GMT
When Trump and his followers refer to “America,” what do they mean?
Some see a country of white English-speaking Christians.
Others want a land inhabited by self-seeking individuals free to accumulate as much money and power as possible, who pay taxes only to protect their assets from criminals and foreign aggressors.
Others think mainly about flags, national anthems, pledges of allegiance, military parades, and secure borders.
Trump encourages a combination of all three – tribalism, libertarianism, and loyalty.
But the core of our national identity has not been any of this. It has been found in the ideals we share – political equality, equal opportunity, freedom of speech and of the press, a dedication to open inquiry and truth, and to democracy and the rule of law.
We are not a race. We are not a creed. We are a conviction – that all people are created equal, that people should be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin, and that government should be of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Political scientist Carl Friedrich, comparing Americans to Gallic people, noted that “to be an American is an ideal, while to be a Frenchman is a fact.”
That idealism led Lincoln to proclaim that America might yet be the “last best hope” for humankind. It prompted Emma Lazarus, some two decades later, to welcome to American the world’s “tired, your poor/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
It inspired the poems of Walt Whitman and Langston Hughes, and the songs of Woody Guthrie. All turned their love for America into demands that we live up to our ideals. “This land is your land, this land is my land,” sang Guthrie. “Let America be America again,” pleaded Hughes: “The land that never has been yet – /And yet must be – the land where every man is free. / The land that’s mind – the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME –.”
That idealism sought to preserve and protect our democracy – not inundate it with big money, or allow one party or candidate to suppress votes from rivals, or permit a foreign power to intrude on our elections.
It spawned a patriotism that once required all of us take on a fair share of the burdens of keeping America going – paying taxes in full rather than seeking loopholes or squirreling money away in foreign tax shelters, serving in the armed forces or volunteering in our communities rather than relying on others to do the work.
Robert Reich is the nation’s 22nd Secretary of Labor and a professor at the University of California at Berkeley.
Source for complete post: http://robertreich.org/
I need to admit something up top here. I think I wrote this piece because it includes some of my all time favorite folk music — played by the original people. The final one, “Everything’s Fine Right Now” was a love song from me to my baby in 1969 when my big tall adult was a little, funny kid. So if you don’t feel like reading this, don’t … but play the music. It’s great music. I think that may really be what the world needs more of. Folk music. Lots of it.
When I started writing Serendipity five years ago, I was enthusiastic and full of energy. Undisciplined. All over the place. Writing too much, leaping from subject to subject. Angry one day, mellow the next. Ranting about the wrongs of the world and how we needed to fix everything. I think I knew more when I was younger. I even ranted about philosophy. Imagine that.
And then I just dropped everything and took pictures of autumn leaves.
I was so passionate I probably contradicted myself a dozen time a week, but who was counting?
A hideous election that completely altered my world view — and massive heart surgery — and now, I am living in my nightmare world. I expect awful things and to no ones surprise, that’s what we get. Because somehow, through the perfect storm of politics, we elected the worst possible president and now we are living under his … tweets.
I remember 2012, when I was full-bore into the election and all the positive change I expected to see. The election ended. Gridlock began. The air went out of my bubble. Life got grim and rather ugly. I got sick. I didn’t want to get down in the trenches and duke it out with people with whom I disagreed. I didn’t feel like bothering to call out the crazies for being crazy. I wanted to hear music. Not new music. Old music.
As we head into elections in 2018, we need to be much smarter. Less passionate, more intelligent. Anyone who still thinks voting has nothing to do with them is beyond help. Let’s find people we can help. Let’s give up on all those people who live in a state of blind hate. They aren’t going to change and we will never convince them of anything. More than half the people I hear from are irrational, stupid, and fascist. We aren’t going to bring them to our side. They don’t have a side. They simply hate.
How do you talk to people who are completely irrational? Who don’t care whether what they believe is true or not? People who think their personal feelings are more important than truth? Any truth?
Meanwhile, there’s music.
The current future looks a little bleak. I have started to discover where the cuts to Medicare are. I can’t afford my drugs. I could barely afford them last year, but it’s just February and I’m not optimistic about the upcoming year. I hope I live to see this disaster end.
I want to move back to the United States. I’m pretty sure — this ain’t it. Are you hearing Phil Ochs singing “I ain’t marching anymore …” Are you wondering where have all the flowers gone?
We are a country of babies. Spoiled babies. Over-indulged, entitled babies.
No amendment to the Constitution says that everyone can do whatever they want, whenever they want, wherever they want. No country could survive the anarchy this would create.
All societies have laws and regulations for a reason. Parents have rules for their toddlers for a reason. We have reached the point in our violent history that the ‘parents’ in the country have to just say “No!” to the toddlers who are running rampant. Let them have a full-blown tantrum in the aisle of the supermarket.
I’m really talking about guns in America. But I don’t want to focus on the politics, which are mind bogglingly corrupt and twisted because of the NRA.
I want to talk about the issue from a sociological/psychological perspective. It’s time someone just said “NO!” to the groups of people who are disrupting our society. “NO!” to the people who want to own AR 15’s outside of the military. You just can’t have that weapon of mass destruction in your bedroom because you like it and want it. You can have some, less lethal guns. If you abide by the normal regulations that govern other things, like cars.
To drive a car, you have to pass several tests to get a license. You need insurance and you have to live by all the rules of the road. Otherwise, you get your license revoked. You also have to get your license renewed regularly and pass an eye exam.
No one screams bloody murder about their Constitutional rights because they can’t drive a Formula One race car on the highway at 140 miles per hour. Or that they have to pass a driving test (actually a written test AND a road test) to be able to drive legally.
The Congressional GOP and the White House are two other groups of people who need to hear a loud “NO!” for a change. Governments only function with compromise. Everyone can’t get exactly what they want all the time. Aren’t you supposed to learn that in Kindergarten? Did the entire GOP and the everyone in the White House all flunk Kindergarten?
Where do elected officials get the chutzpah to insist on ‘My way or the highway’ even if it means shutting down the government? Why do people think it’s okay to bull-doze others on their way to total ‘victory’ for THEIR special interest group?
I don’t have answers to these questions. I feel as if Washington DC is run by people who refuse to live by any of the rules I grew up believing were necessary for a civil society. Is it a fluke? Are the stars misaligned to give us the most childish, selfish, greedy bunch of amoral politicians ever to run our government? Is this some kind of Karmic lesson?
I know the corruption level in government has been better or worse at various times in our history. Washington has often been run entirely on favors traded and bribes offered, but even that assumes acceptance of the concept of compromise. Of give and take. Today it seems like intransigence is the standard, as well as self-righteousness and narcissism.
The impasse on guns is one symptom of our broken system. It’s sad although a majority of NRA members favor reasonable gun control laws such as universal background checks and bans on assault weapons, the NRA (read “gun manufacturers”) have paid off our Congress and our President. They don’t even reflect or represent the will of their own members much less the non-gun-owning public. They don’t care.
I’m optimistic that when Democrats take over the government, hopefully in 2020, we may see more serious gun control legislation. But there will still be plenty of pols who collect a big hunk of their campaign contributions from the NRA and all those Republicans who behave like spoiled toddlers. They will still refuse to play nicely with others.
Trump Republicans are a minority in the U.S. — yet they do an enormous amount of damage and exert a disproportionate amount of control. Hopefully by 2020, they will be relegated to an insignificant minority who we can disregard. Maybe then we can move on.
We can walk past the toddlers and ignore them while they have their tantrums in the aisles of Congress. It’s a welcome thought.