Archive for the ‘DEMOCRACY’ Category



November 17, 2012

MAYBE a ray of hope…..this past week, have heard some good thinking from once out-of-touch Minnesota Republicans – lamenting their OWN actions for election loss in Minnesota. I think they are transferring too much of the blame to the amendment fiasco, but it was encouraging to hear:

“We have to spend less time trying to vote people off the island and more time figuring out how we can work together behind common goals.”

Well….dah! Personally, I think a new second party would serve Minnesotans better than a new dress on a tired old out-of-touch elephant….especially since what I have NOT heard yet from them or their national good old boys counterpart is a recognition that we cannot RE-LIVE the 20th century.

Let alone those that have yet to learn the lessons of the 19th century – and still do not understand they cannot secede – that is exactly why thousands died 150 years ago. (This one is hard issue for me, since for many years, I have wondered WHY we insisted on keeping at least the South a part of the US….and often think we should re-evaluate Lincoln’s stand….so I’m including the movie in this weekend’s activities – hoping it prevents me from rallying to a new cause of LET THEM GO…..:-)

Before I am willing to take another look at the Minnesota bunch, they will have to show me evidence – not only of collaborating with DFL to get MN issues addressed, but they need to support their cries nationally of “business” with one who’s made it in today’s global, digital, collaborative world…not a veteran of the very time in business that created Sharehold Value as top priority, rather than consumer and employees.

AN INNOCENT ELECTION VICTIM…Lennon Cihak is a far better person than I am……as he was denied the sacrament of confirmation in the Catholic Church because of a picture of him holding a Vote No to ban same sex marriage, and yet, he pleads for people to understand his church rules.

Meanwhile, I fume because of what that means in his parish and perhaps the whole diocese…..If you voted no, you may be voted off the island and denied the comfort of faith in which you were raised……That just opens so many issues and arguments, I know better than to comment further and have been arguing with myself to remain silent.

Unfortunately, I am a historian at heart…so I know marriage as a sacrament in the Catholic Church did not begin with Christ making Peter the first head of the Church….indeed, marriage remained a civic act only and did not become a sacrament in the the Catholic Church until SEVERAL HUNDRED YEARS later – when the church, motivated by financial difficulties, adopted it as a sacrament – allowed to church members for a fee!

So I’m glad I am of a different faith and live in the USA where I can say….the treatment of this 12 year old boy may be an isolated incident…OR it could be a signal of that unbending self-rightousness that led to the devastation of the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition..and eventually, to the rejection of that Church by many..

On a more rational and less emotional level, I’m tentatively optimistic….I think Obama learned in the first term, that until all the “elder” statesmen are voted off the island, he cannot govern totally by collaboration and consensus. His positioning of his “mandate” from the election signals to me that as he needs to, he will indeed use power and a few old tricks from the 20th century. That is a sad state of affairs, but to me, reflects more on the elders in Congress than it does on Obama….we shall see as we now LEAN FORWARD to join the rest of world in a century of promise that lies before us.

That is, if we survive the die-hards that did not get the message…that are trying so hard to make Benghazi into a crisis that exceeds the importance and devastation of 9-11.

Of course, I do not mean to imply that thousands of deaths in our own country from a terrorist attack , followed by 100,000s of deaths of Americans and Iraqis/Afghans CAN be compared to Benghazi-in either case, Americans died, there was considerable confusion as what happened was sorted out, and both ultimately were tragic  incidents in American history.

But even though I myself  did not support the second retalitory action – the Iraq War- there is NO COMPARISON to Elder Deomocratic Statesmen support of President Bush and the country to the ANTICS of McCain and company on Benghazi…led initially by Romney.   Patriotism, not Politics should be the principle that comes to the fore ANYTIME we as a country are attacked and citizens of the USA are killed.  It is a travesty to see McCain…and Graham to some extent…try to make this a POLITICAL ISSUE especially when McCain in particular has been honored all his political life for serving his country in a war that had more than its share of hiccups and mistakes.

But all in all, ten days later, I am proud to be part of the American public  that voted YES to four more years of Obama- a citizen who recognizes that men are fallible and I have yet to see (or to have studied) either party or representatives of parties that came before Lincoln rule without criticism, mistakes, misunderstandings and deep emotional debates among the masses.  So, I am taking a deep breath as here we go again…



October 1, 2012

“Look between today’s two extremes.  America lives there.”

Yesterday, I wrote about our broken political system…and later in the day, saw that the STRIB had done likewise, by sharing the opinion of Stephen B. Young who simplified the issue much more succinctly than my attempt to condense Mickey Edwards book into a single posting. I have included portions of that article below.

Thanks to the baby boomers, who, out of passionate self-regard, adopted one or the other of these foreign approaches, these two ideologies have taken over our political system, have crippled our best ways of making decisions, and have brought us to a systemic gridlock where we are incapable of providing for our future success, both at home and in the world….If America is to survive, we must recover our moral sense.

American politics was designed to seek alignment between duty and advantage.  It should reflect a moral sense that we have individual human dignity to be respected by others but that we also have responsibilities to others.  We may not demand too much of them, as we are first and foremost each responsible for our own lives and for what happens to us.  But at the same time, in taking care of ourselves, we may not turn our backs on the community and its needs.

This is the middle way of mindful behavior that demands flexibility and collaboration at every turn.  It leaves no room for narrow-minded and strident ideologies.

Young then lists the results we could expect if we consciously try to achieve balance among the contending forces:

  • First, we would reject both the entitlement state and social Darwinism
  • Second, we would expect each  American to be virtuous and responsible for themselves and for our common good…Excellence, not comfort, would be the standard of the American life well lived
  • Third, we could accept the role of government and taxation as legitimate.  Government is to provide the public goods that will make the res publica prosper and which will not reliably be provided by a free market
  • Fourth, the deficit-prone programs we call entitlements-primarily health care and retirement stipends- would become a blended effort of personal responsibility and public subsidy.
  • Fifth, reliance on the moral sense would call for more tolerant communal approaches to person sexuality and religious liberty…But, where the moral sense might prove imperfect when such personal shortcomings would create high risks of harm to others…communal needs would justify regulation of personal conduct.
  • Sixth, the economy, especially the financial sector, would be incentivized to reward individual entrepreneurial achievement…Since trading and speculation contributes little to our society’s creation of wealth…such activity could be highly regulated…for fairness…and to reduce risk of credit market collapses.
  • Seventh, in foreign policy, the US would be a dynamic participant in global affairs, looking to protect and promote the moral sense through constitutional democracies and free markets and to provide checks against concentrations of power abroad that would abuse broadly accepted norms of right and fairness.

Forgive me for quoting at such length but I think this message is important.  As I read through it, I thought to myself, YES, this is why I consider myself an independent.  I generally do not see one side totally right; one side totally wrong.  Although when push comes to shove, I know from experience from over twenty years in the corporate world, interacting with a great many CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, that the late 20th century “business” thinking and ethics falls short.  Because I believe so strongly in collaboration and community,  I am generally pushed towards the side of the Democrats…and then live with the consequences; while continuing to hope for the good of our country that someday the balance between these two will be restored to what our forefathers envisioned. 

And, judging from the growing size of those considered “independent”, I think I share this dilemma with a lot of Americans….in fact, with latest estimates being 40% of the country consider themselves independent, it continues to amaze me that we allow two minority groups to manipulate and force us to choose between them and then let one of them run our lives for significant periods of time.  



September 30, 2012

This past week or so, I realized that at a critical juncture in this upcoming election, I’ve turned off.  I am tired of it; I have lost hope that perhaps there was still time to have a reasonable discussion about issues and suggestions for resolution.  I’ve given up at least temporarily, on the ability of collaboration to get us through what this country is facing and somewhat sadly, I have accepted that we have done little more than confuse us all by pitting a 20th century thinker against the first pioneer of the 21st century….and have started to distance myself from what’s going on….a reaction I abhor in not only myself, but also in others. I’d like to think that the next critical month will erase the embarrassing  summer, but I am not optimistic.

So in desperation, as always, I turned to books for the answer.  Sitting on my desk were two: Bob Woodward’s “The Price of Politics”, and “The Parties versus the People” by Mickey Edwards.  Edwards is a one time congressional Republican, a faculty member at Harvard and Princeton, and is now a VP of the Aspen Institute.

I picked the second one to start with as it was smaller and perhaps would give me some insight into what has gone wrong in our world as explained on the book jacket: why we’ve become our own worst enemy:

A penetrating analysis of American democracy’s most urgent threat: a political system so paralyzed by partisanship it is almost incapable of placing national interest ahead of the blind pursuit of political advantage.

Edwards clearly establishes that democratic self-governance comes from mutual respect, the energies of ideas, and ultimately, consensus.  This certainly is something I believe, not just in politics, but in life.

He then establishes that the central challenge of our times is overcoming the tribalism and knee-jerkpartisanship that has emerged over the last two decades.  This, too, supports my thinking.  Our world changed dramatically with the beginning of the Clinton Administration. As the first Boomers in the office, the Clinton Administration got off to a rocky start.  The Clintons survived; and today, certainly have proven themselves, but in the heat of the battle, our two hundred year old governing system did not fare as well.

And so with that, I delved in.  It was not easy reading; it was not necessarily riveting, nor did it necessarily feed my own “reality” of our political world today.  But what it did do, was make me step back from my own positions; it made me think; and I struggled hard to understand the ten steps to change that Edwards put forth.  I am sharing the ten steps below:

  • Take away the right of parties to control access to the ballot
  • Take away the parties’ control over redistricting
  • Reduce campaign spending; increase competition
  • Establish a non-partisan Congressional leadership
  • Establish non-partisan Congressional Committees
  • Restore democracy to Congress
  • Eliminate the trappings of partisanship
  • Longer workweeks; more interaction
  • Eliminate one-party White House strategy sessions
  • Sign no pledges; stand up to bullies

If any or all resonate with you, too, then pick up the book with an open mind and accept the challenges he laid out for us–the voters- because we are the only ones that can change this.