Archive for the ‘politics’ Tag

On the eighth day, God made a politician.


Political-Podium

by Keith Yancy

I couldn’t resist.

Watching the recent Ram Truck ad (click this link to see it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMpZ0TGjbWE) and hearing the unmistakable, melodic voice of Paul Harvey inspired me to create my own version of his speech.  I wish Harvey could read it with that wonderful voice and style of his.  Not really sure why, just felt like writing this and having some fun with it.

And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, I need a source of frustration — so God made a politician.

God said I need somebody willing to take both sides of an issue, argue passionately for and against the same principles, have lunch, take both sides of an issue again, pause for a photo-op, eat dinner then go to a political rally and stay past midnight reminding people of how you enjoy spending evenings with your family — so God made a politician.

I need somebody who won’t shy away from promoting family values yet brave enough to sleep with his own staff members; somebody to protest loudly, cave meekly, talk endlessly while saying nothing, proclaim your individuality while never breaking ranks with his or her political party, then tell news reporters you’re too busy to grant an interview or answer tough questions — so God made a politician.

God said I need somebody willing to fight day and night for the middle class, and watch it wither because of unemployment and higher taxes, then dry her eyes and vote for tax breaks for the rich.  I need someone who can ignore a multi-trillion-dollar growing deficit, let bankers cheat people out of their homes and savings, kiss strangers babies and hug their children while voting to cut spending for their education, refuse to take a position on difficult issues while introducing symbolic and unnecessary legislation to appear patriotic — so God made a politician.

God had to have someone public enough to accept donations from taxpayers, charities and companies, yet private enough to spend those donations to pay for his mistresses, vacations and hobbies — so God made a politician.

God said I need somebody shameless enough to call political opponents names, yet outraged and indignant when those same opponents respond in kind.  Who will smile and nod with those who agree with him the same way he does with those who do not.  It had to be somebody who would dodge and demure and not give direct answers; somebody to talk, balk, gawk, and walk in parades and shake hands and give high-fives and pat backs and nod wisely and make bold proclamations and sincere apologies and self-righteous denials all in a 30-minute span of time, and do it day after day until their 8-week recess starts.  Somebody who can rally the base and generate voter turnout with the soft, strong bonds of empty promises and finger-pointing; who would laugh and then sigh, and reply with smiling eyes when her daughter says she wants to spend her life doing what Mom does… so God made a politician.

Whatever you do, this was intended to be a joke — it’s not meant to be partisan, nor does it reflect my true opinion of politicians (though it’s not that far off).  Perhaps it leans a bit left, but I’m well aware that Democrats and Republicans are far more alike than they are different.

Until next time… 🙂

Advertisements

20 Opinions of An Average American Voter


by Keith Yancy

Nowadays, there’s nothing quite as controversial as politics.

Politics, whether it’s at a national, state or local level, seems to be a very, very touchy subject these days.  It’s one thing to disagree with strangers, but when you disagree with friends — and even family members — tempers can run hot. 

But unless you’re a hermit or completely “off the grid,” you’re probably just like me: constantly bombarded by political information, opinion, points, counterpoints, rants, condescension, cheap shots, and every other form of diatribe, from seemingly every point on the political spectrum.  Television.  Radio.  Internet.  Propaganda in our daily mail.  Even unwanted phone calls and text messages.

And yet, despite this barrage of political discourse, I’ve never felt so disconnected from the process.

I can’t really claim any longer to be a Republican or Democrat.  In fact, I’m not even sure that — by today’s definitions — I can describe myself as a conservative, liberal, or libertarian.  I feel very much like today’s political parties have somehow drifted beyond my reach, leaving me without any choices that I can feel positive or hopeful about.

I’ve heard people like me described as “undecided.”  But, when it comes to issues, I’m not undecided at all; like most people, I have plenty of opinions, and being described as “undecided” makes it sound like I’m somehow dithering between choices, or can’t decide what I want.  

My problem is that I don’t particularly like ANY of the choices.  So, perhaps voters like me — those who, for whatever reason, can’t find an acceptable candidate — should be called “frustrated.”  Maybe we know what we want, we just haven’t found anyone — from any party — who can deliver it. 

So… what does one “frustrated” voter look like?  Below are a few of my opinions about politics, national, state and local.  You may find them naive, simplistic, or even flat-out wrong, but I’m just another average voter, and here they are:

20 Opinions of An Average American Voter

  1. On all political levels, I want at least one news source that I could honestly trust to be apolitical.  Try as I might, I can’t seem to find one.
  2. I want less “win/lose” political battles, and more collaboration, cooperation, and “win/win” solutions.
  3. I want people to stop the name calling.  And no, I don’t think one needs to be in a particular political party to be called a “patriot.”
  4. I want actual debate about issues, instead of a competition for who has the best sound bytes.  And yes, that means the possibility of trading good television ratings for actual worthwhile content and discussion.
  5. I want people to focus on performance rather than personalities, vision rather than vitriol, solutions rather than blame, action instead of words.
  6. I want people to focus on what unites us, instead of what divides us.  Can I be the only one tired of hearing the political parties endlessly “defining themselves”?
  7.  I want people to recognize that left and right, conservative and liberal, even union and non-union TOGETHER make up our nation, and that the elimination of any of these forces would hurt our country and our people far more than they realize.
  8. I want people to spend more time appreciating what’s great about this country instead of what’s wrong with it.  Yes, we should always be working to improve society, but most of the “doomsday predictions” are, in my opinion, absurd.
  9. I want fiscal responsibility — don’t spend what you don’t have.
  10. I want political accountability — the price of leadership is accountability.  If you don’t deliver results in office, it is your fault, fair or unfair.
  11. I want ethical transparency — if you are a corrupt politician, your punishment should never, ever be a slap on the wrist.  In fact, I believe the standards for conduct should be high, and the punishments for unethical behavior severe — you’re betraying EVERYONE.
  12. I want people who have the talent and opportunity to be wealthy in this country.  And I want them to pay their fair share of taxes — just like me.
  13. I want people to work.  I want people who don’t work to be obligated to contribute to society… especially if they’re getting government assistance.
  14. I want people to have access to health care, which means I want a health care system that makes sense.   I’m willing to entertain alternatives to “Obamacare,” but… what are they? 
  15. I want democracy and representation by the people.  But I also believe that, on a local level, an emergency manager is necessary when democratically elected leaders have proven that they’re simply incapable of fixing their problems.
  16. I want local leaders to be better prepared and informed before they run for office.  And I want local voters to do the same thing.  Local politicians have a surprising amount of power, and most people take that fact for granted.
  17. I want politicians to negotiate, rather than berate.  To compromise, rather than criticize.  To work for their constituents, rather than their “base.”  Political leadership should be about government “by, about, and for the people,” not “by, about and for the party.”
  18. I want people to recognize that no party is completely “right” while another is completely “wrong.”  Has anything ever created by human beings been 100% right or wrong?  Can’t an opponent’s ideas or beliefs have merit?
  19. I want a government less influenced by lobbyists and political cronyism. I want banks and “big business” to have less political influence.  But I also think government has a lot to learn from business in terms of accountability, performance oriented results and innovation.
  20. I want government — at all levels — to ensure our freedoms, protect the minority from the majority, and provide all who lack means and opportunity with help, responsibility and — yes, there’s the word again — accountability.  If the government gives you something, you should give something back in return.

That’s just 20 opinions.  I have more.  I’ll keep trying to find a candidate that aligns with my opinions and views, but so far, I’m not finding much success. 

Until then, I’ll continue to watch, learn, and try to weed out the hyperbole from fact and emotion from rationality.  Regardless of who I vote for, I’m determined to know the issues before I go to the voting booth.

Until next time… 😐

An Outrageous, Ridiculous, Appalling Lie


 

by Keith Yancy

I’m used to politicians spinning the truth.  I’m used to politicians arguing out of both sides of their proverbial mouths.  I’m used to politicians asking all of us to sacrifice while they exclude themselves from doing so.  In other words, I’ve learned to expect very little from politicians of any party when it comes to integrity, consistency and honesty.  And, of course, because I expect so little from our elected leaders, I suspect I speak for a large number of citizens when I say that it’s hard for politicians to “shock” me anymore. 

But the sad events of last week changed all that.

Over the past week, I’ve been working very, very long days, and have had little time or energy to blog.  I had intended to write about the absurdity of an obvious lunatic being able to purchase a semi-automatic handgun, but after listening to the news, I changed my mind.  That blog post will have to wait.

Because as awful and tragic as those events were, our elected leaders’ attempt to spin it for their own gain was astounding.  And their basic premise — that today’s uninformed, inflammatory and careless political rhetoric wasn’t a contributing factor — is nothing more than a bold-faced, jaw-dropping lie.  This lie, at it’s core, is asking us to believe that this type of gun- and violence-laced rhetoric has no connection to such events — that, in essence, words don’t matter, don’t motivate, don’t inspire others to take action.

And that’s complete bullcrap.

Before the Obama-haters or Obama-lovers decide to read on or stop reading, hear this: this is not a Democrat lie.  This is not a Republican lie.  This is a POLITICAL lie, and both sides were guilty of it.  For all of us so eager to point out Obama’s 2008 remarks about “bringing a gun” to a fight when someone “brings a knife” (a quote from the movies, incidentally), there are the stupid, careless quotes from Sharron Angle about people seeking “Second Amendment solutions” to their problems.   (Lest you think I’m exaggerating, feel free to review the following recent examples http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CU9GXil9Vm8 and http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.politico.com%2Fblogs%2Fbensmith%2F0608%2FObama_brings_a_gun_to_a_knife_fight.html&h=e1765)   Politicians from both parties today know that it’s not WHAT you say, it’s HOW you say it that matters, because if you’re lucky enough, or have a bombastic delivery, or photogenic, you might get that red-hot 30-second soundbyte that hits national news, goes viral and gets replayed over, and over, and over again.  And for an elected official, that’s gold, folks.  For the rest of us, it’s frightening.

That’s because politicians who act this way don’t realize that their words DO have power, DO have longevity, DO influence others.  Obviously.  Why bother with political speeches, radio talk shows, public announcements, etc. — the bread and butter of what politicians do — if words and language don’t count?  Our politicians, after the initial spin attempts to make the shooting a political statement, all began claiming that their words, their rhetoric, even their symbolism on their web sites were not the cause of the tragedy.  No one would actually ACT on their words, right?  Nobody would actually commit a violent act as a result of politicians using metaphors and analogies of violent acts in their public statements, would they?

This is astounding, and people shouldn’t stand for it.  This entire episode is a cheap variation of the “I didn’t really mean what I was saying… you misunderstood me” argument.  Communicating clearly and being understood is the job of the politician.  And our politicians are trying to convince us that, essentially, we should listen to — and yet NOT listen to — their message.  In other words, they’d like us to apply the “You should know what I mean, not just what I say” rule to their words, no matter how ridiculous. 

No.  No, no, NO.  Because words DO matter. 

Think words DON’T matter?  Then you’ve never heard of leaders like Thomas Jefferson.  Abraham Lincoln.  Mother Teresa.  Winston Churchill.  Martin Luther King.  People who, with their words, motivated their citizens to embrace higher principles, sacrifice, and even die for a righteous cause.  Conversely, you’ve never known the danger of famous leaders like Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Josef Stalin, and the ultimate frightening political speaker, Adolf Hitler.  Men who, with their words, motivated people to hate, to kill, to accept evil as somehow “good.”  Words can and DO inspire people, both to do good and to tolerate — even accept — evil.  That’s why politicians make speeches, people.  Words DO matter. 

Politicians know that, if you just say things with enough repitition, enough conviction, enough enthusiasm, you can get most people to at least consider what you’re saying, if not accept it.  What’s completely unacceptable one day can, if someone works hard enough, be acceptable another, and ultimately embraced (even if only by a few) if one works hard enough.  It’s ultimately what eliminated slavery, taxation without representation and other social injustices.  The wars fought on these subjects were simply the culmination of such rhetoric, not the cause. 

With so many examples from history, it’s outrageous for our politicians to claim that their language, their rhetoric, their vitriol is blameless when people commit such acts of political violence.  Was Jason Laughner disturbed?  Sure looks like it.  Did politicians hand him a gun, drive him to Wal-Mart, etc?  No.  But do our politicians incite people to take increasingly radical, polarized political positions that demonize opposing points of view?  Absolutely.  And their soundbytes can ultimately create the social context for people — especially the ignorant and impressionable among us who believe our politicians are literally telling the truth — to take action.      

Our politicians either won’t admit, or don’t know, that they have more power than they realize.  If they truly don’t realize that they have the power and ability to influence others, I’m afraid for our country… but I don’t really believe that.  They know the power of words, the power of language, the power of media.  The insult to us, the citizens of this country, is that our leaders really believe we’re stupid enough to let them avoid responsibility for what they say.  That we’re all so dumb that we won’t hold them accountable for making violent metaphors an acceptable part of political discussion.  That there’s no connection between what they say and what some people DO. 

We need to hold our politicians — of ALL parties — accountable for their words.  We need to tell them that we’re not stupid, we’re not unaware, and that what they say DOES matter.  If they aren’t willing to be the voices of reason, then we must be.

Until next time… : (

Hitting Below The Belt


by Keith Yancy

Sometimes, when you write for others, you run the risk of offending people.  But, unfortunately, sometimes you have to speak your mind, and acknowledge that your opinion may be different from others — even the opinions of close family and friends.

This post may be one of those times.

I think, while people always root for the proverbial Davids of the world to beat the Goliaths, there’s also a certain satisfaction in watching Goliath sometimes crush the small and weak.   There’s a part of all of us that likes a winner; someone who is expected to dominate their opponent — and does.  It makes us feel like the world is a little more predictable, like when — as one journalist recently put it — “the currupt Them is vanquished by the righteous Us.”

Perhaps this is what gives the political pundits such power — they beat up on those who oppose them, perpetually leveraging the “home field advantage” of their radio personalities and following to browbeat and demean all who possess ideas other than theirs.  It feels good when they “put people in their place” — especially those whom we oppose, disagree with, or don’t respect.

But they can go too far.  And when they do, it’s time to ask ourselves whether we deserve better.

Recently, Glenn Beck — a wildly popular conservative voice and known political agitator — went too far.   A public figure who claims to provide “a fusion of entertainment and enlightenment,” he apparently (only two days after defending Sarah Palin from people attacking her family) had the audacity to imitate the voice and speech of the 11-year-old daughter of the President.

It doesn’t matter that he’s a conservative attacking a Democratic President.  If the political affiliations were reversed, it would be just as appalling.  And, while he issued a half-hearted and gutless apology the next day, the fact that he stepped way over the line wasn’t what bothered me the most.

What bothers me is that there are many people who admire this man.  Some people even consider him a “voice of truth” in the difficult politics of our times.  And that’s disturbing. 

People need to ask themselves whether a man who mocks the voice and language of an innocent, basically defenseless 11-year-old child is really a role model for anything.  As if it weren’t bad enough, Beck continued by imitating the voice of the President and went on to question the quality of the child’s schooling, based only on the words she spoke to her own father.  This, my friends, is the sign of a complete jackass.  As a father of a 10-year-old daughter, I can tell you that the words Obama’s daughter spoke were normal for a girl that age.  (NOTE: Feel free to Google “Glenn Beck apology” and hear Beck in action at aolnews.com.) 

The bigger problem, of course, is giving creedence to any person who promises a combination of “entertainment and enlightenment.”  This phrase is simply an elegant way of saying “spin.”  And yes, if you agree with Beck’s views, it’s comforting to know that he’s out there, talking, shouting, and monologuing your viewpoint to the heavens… but when a man mocks a defenseless 11-year-old, I believe people can — and should — do better.

The fact is, anyone who promises to make news “entertaining” by injecting their opinions and interpretation is dangerous.  And Beck certainly isn’t the only one.  Keith Olbermann, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly… the list goes on and on.  The problem isn’t that these people exist — they have the same rights as we do — the problem is that people don’t try to listen to alternate points of view.  Like Glenn Beck?  Try listening to NPR or even Keith Olbermann (if you must)… but listen to some type of opposing point of view, and see if your opinions remain unchanged. 

Most people will get a second doctor’s opinion when faced with a tough diagnosis… but often seem perfectly content to follow one person’s interpretation of political events.  And while most of us think that we’d never be like those deluded people who followed the “bad guys of history” — and we all know who they are — the fact is, those deluded people probably thought the same way. 

People can be easily led, especially when they wish to be led.  But people today have better access to information and knowledge than at any time in history, and people need to realize that today’s “news” is, less and less, truly objective.  I think there’s a real danger in letting others define for us what “truth” is, instead of seeking it out for ourselves.  In a news media with channels and personalities openly biased toward one or another political position, it’s more important than ever before to consider several viewpoints before forming our own opinions.

Which brings us back to Beck.  I don’t particularily respect him, but I know many people, including some family members, who do.  Fine.  But don’t give him so much respect — so much influence — that his voice drowns out all others’.  Because a man who imitates a child’s voice and speech to attack the President is either out of control, shamelessly trying to increase his ratings, or perhaps both.  If he had attacked the President’s policy on the oil spill in the Gulf, fine.  The President is all grown up now, and can take it. 

But an 11-year-old shouldn’t have to.

And for those who insist that Beck is no different than many other political bloviators in the news today, I sadly agree.  But none of them should be considered a “single point of truth.”  Listen to the opposition.  Make yourself think before taking a stand.  This isn’t just responsible citizenship… it’s insurance for all of us that we don’t blindly follow another’s point of view.  That, in my opinion, is far more dangerous than people think.

The best sign that it’s time to consider other sources of news and opinion is when they hit below the belt.  Thanks, Mr. Beck, for reminding us that your voice isn’t the only one out there.  And, if you’re really sorry, and really want to be a man instead of just a prodigious source of wind, you’ll apologize directly to the President.  Anyone can hide behind a general apology… but you owe one to the father of an 11-year-old kid.

But buck up, Glenn… I’m guessing the President would at least fight fair, unlike yourself.

Until next time… : |