Thinking Out Loud on the Cusp of the Trump Presidency

It’s that transition time.  The 2016 national election has come and gone and for the most part, the counting is over.

The incumbents are either breathing a sigh of relief if they ran for re-election and won, or planning their next steps if they ran and lost.  Some never ran and they didn’t have skin in the game, so their future plans were made months ago.

We have seen a real ugly side of politics this election cycle and both the Democrats and Republicans should be scared.

Why?

Because both of their parties were rejected.

I’ll start alphabetically with the Democrats.

If there was strong support for the Democratic party, then Hillary Clinton would have own the presidency with both the popular and electoral votes.  But I saw this campaign season as a rejection of not just her, but the Democratic party “business as usual” platform.

Here’s my case:

Bernie Sanders.

Eight years ago we saw the same with a different name: Barrack Obama.

Both elections were supposed to be shoe-ins for Hillary.  1st female president, most qualified, most experienced, you name it, she was a winner on the achievement tally sheet compared to her primary opponents.

But in 2008, the candidate that beat her had the enthusiasm vote.  It was a vote for Hope and Change.  We were tired of the war and distrust of the government under the Bush years.  Barrack offered a clean slate and there was not a damn thing the Clinton’s could do to stop him.

Eight years later they were better prepared with enough Democrat Party Super Delegates in their back pocket that there was no way Hillary would not be on the ticket in November.

Problem was this old Socialist dude from Vermont who looked like the crazy Uncle that everyone dreads coming over for the holidays, Bernie Sanders.  The Democrats expected him to be nothing more than a pesky mosquito but instead Bernie created a movement.

Bernie was the Hope and Change for hundreds. Those hundreds became thousands and then millions.  The Democratic party panicked and stooped to dirty tricks to help Hillary.  There was no way that Hillary was going to be tossed out of the general election but then came “commie lovin’ Bernie”.  But did you see the crowds that Bernie drew versus the crowds that Hillary gathered when they did campaign stops? Here in Fort Wayne, Indiana the number of people who were, “with her”, were outnumbered by those that “felt the Bern”.

Bernie should have been the Presidential Nominee for the Democrat Party, but the math of delegates with the Super Delegate factor made it impossible.

At the moment the leader of the Democrat Party is not named Clinton.  The leader is named Obama, and his time expires in January to hold office.  The Democrat Party is leaderless.

The Republican Party isn’t in much better shape either.  Imagine the people who wanted some one with conservative values were so dissatisfied with the field of nominees that Donald Trump beat all of them.

Donald Trump doesn’t represent the Republican Party.  They tried everything they could to prevent Trump from winning enough delegates to secure the nomination, but they failed. Then when he won the Presidency, many sucked up to him who were in the nasty fight just months before.  Those Republicans are not sure if they should ride on the Donald’s coat tails but they certainly don’t want to be left behind.

The only reason we still have just two major parties is the idiotic choices the other parties have offered.

Gary Johnson may be a nice guy but when he failed to name a foreign leader that he respected during a national television interview, he lost credibility big time.  When I saw that clip, I know how I would have handled it.  He was sitting with his V-P partner, and he should have simply said to Mr. Weld, “Gee, Bill, I’m not sure which one to pick, who do you think would be on the top of our list?”

That shows the ability to think on ones feet and maybe it’s because I’m in sales, but I know how to answer questions that I’m stumped on.  And most questions I am asked, I know ahead of time what my answers will be.

So the Republicans have lost their party to the likes of Donald Trump and the Democrats have simply lost and need to find a spokesperson.

Bernie and Donald both represented the 2016 Hope and Change that Barack Obama presented in 2008.  Each of those three men simply offered Hope to different segments of the voting population who wanted Change that would affect their own interests.

Now…

What are you and I to do?

It’s time to do some thoughtful thinking and have some open discussions with people of all political leanings.

Pick issues that are important to you.  If you need a list, you can use a website like https://www.isidewith.com/  and look at the issues and choices listed.  A word of caution with this website, is that some of the questions are geared to steer you towards a certain mindset, so feel free to challenge the questions wording and perhaps rework them to your own liking.

I suggest doing this exercise on your own first.  When I did it, I discovered that I don’t have opinions on some issues.  That’s because I don’t know enough to decide where I stand on the topic, or it’s not as important as other items on the list.

Forget about liberal or conservative labels.  Forget about party positions.  Think through your ideas and beliefs and then share with others in a discussion.

Every action will have unintended reactions.  Nothing operates in a bubble.  We cannot predict the future but we can learn from the past.

I want to be part of a better future for myself, my family and for strangers too.  Are you with me?

 

 

The Worst of The Best

Too much has been said during this years presidential race by the candidates, their surrogates, their supporters and those who are anti-___________.

So I don’t add to the noise on social media or in public conversation.

It’s not that I don’t care.  It’s just that I have nothing to contribute that can be said in a tweet, or Facebook post that will make much of a difference.

I just finished reading the book, Think Like A Freak, by the authors of the Freakonomics series and handed my copy to my son.

The idea behind this book is to teach people how to open their minds by discovering predispositions and examine stuff deeper than we often do.

It’s the kind of stuff that I love to do, to play detective, to do experiments and to learn.

What caught my attention in the first place was stuff that they authors discovered about violent crime and abortion, in their first book, and the whole series along with the movie is worth your time.

But let me present my own thoughts today on the current Presidential election.  It’s about 9am on Sunday October 9, 2016.

Election Day is November 8th this year so in 4 weeks and about 3 days we will know who our next President of the United States will be.

The primary season ended a couple months ago with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump emerging as the candidates chosen by each party to run as the Democrat and Republican party presidential candidates.  For that reason and that reason alone, I’ll call Hillary and Donald, “The Best“.

Not the best people to run for office or to serve as POTUS.  But they were the winners of the series of contests that each major party held leading up to their conventions this summer and thus were designated to move on to the next round, the final round.

Applying the Think Like A Freak methodology you can spend a lifetime trying to uncover how we got here, but today it doesn’t matter.  Clinton and Trump won the races they were running and now we are in a sudden death battle that will determine the executive leadership of our country for the next four years and have lasting effects on our country beyond our lifetimes.

Now that I’ve explained why Hilary and Donald are the Best, let me tell you why I titled this article, The Worst of The Best.

It’s all the dirt and mudslinging that is going on.  By nearly everyone.

Trump’s past, Clinton’s past along with their present words and actions are being used to bring each other down.  And there is plenty of bad stuff that happens now that provides even more material.

The people who are truly passionate about wanting Trump to Make America Great Again are no better or worse than those who want Clinton to do what ever she says she wants to do, and are passionate about her.

I wish we could have an election about policy and direction, not about Hillary’s health and Donald’s, well you name it.

In Indiana, we are seeing and hearing a similar battle for an open U.S. Senate Seat with back to back to back TV ads attacking each candidate with sound bites.

I wonder what would happen if the Federal Election Commission would apply similar Truth in Advertising Rules that the Federal Trade Commission has in place.

You have perhaps noticed that up to this point I have not mentioned the 3rd party candidates. For President I will have a third choice, Gary Johnson is on my ballot.   No, he and the Libertarian Party are not going to pull an upset and win the presidency but I am glad that they made the ballot, simply to see how many votes they can pull away from the two major parties.

Here’s the truth.  Either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be elected November 8th.  Ballots have been printed, early voting has started and we will have one of them declared the winner, The Best of the Best according to the rules of our election process.

Time for me to attempt to research all the candidates on my sample ballot and pick who will get my votes next month.

15 years and counting

Some things we wish had never happened.  The events of September 11th, 2001 changed my world and the world of my wife and kids in ways we could never imagine.

Other generations had similar events of war that changed their lives and all of ours for that matter.

My Dad was 11, my Mom was 8 when Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941.  I wish I had talked with them and discovered how that and our subsequent involvement in World War 2 impacted them.

All of my Uncles and my Dad served in the military as it was the thing to do.  Then came the 60’s and the beginning of public protests against our governments involvement in, well I was going to say foreign wars, but from what I read, (and barely recall), the 60’s were filled with lots of questioning of our governments actions.

What I recall in the days following 9-11-01 was a unity of Americans. The terror attacks were not aimed at Democrats, Republicans, men, women, straight or gay, or any particular sub-division of our citizenry.

It was against all of us. Our ideals, our freedoms, our lifestyles.

We are not the perfect country.  We have come along way and we still have a long way to go.  Hopefully we are not becoming the country that our Forefathers sought and fought for independence from in the late 1700’s.

My 1st wish is that we didn’t have to remember 9-11-01 because the attacks never happened.

But it’s my second wish that is more realistic.  That is a wish to set aside the political and social and (fill in the blank) differences and celebrate the freedom we have to have those differences.

Also that we talk and take responsibility for our own actions, behaviors and attitudes.

 

Hype & Ignorance

As I write these words we are in between the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention.

We have had plenty of people talk about how wonderful and terrible Hillary/Donald are and how the only answer is moving to Canada.

But the topic of Hype & Ignorance applies to many hot topics unrelated to our current Presidential race.

I’m not aware of the bias of the news media when I was a kid in the 60’s and 70’s but I’m guessing there was less than we have now.  Walter Cronkite was Uncle Walter, the legendary CBS Evening News Anchor that told my family what had happened in the last 24 hours.  You watched it at 5:30pm, because that’s when it aired.  Catch it live or miss it was the only option.

The 24/7 news cycle that began with CNN and has grown to include other cable news channels needed to fill 168 every week with news and so more than what Uncle Walter could squeeze into 30 minutes each day was needed.

Eventually with the elimination of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, the doors were opened for more opinion oriented broadcasts on radio and TV, because the Federal Communications Commission did not require broadcasters to provide equal time to opposing views.

This ability to present just one side in broadcast media grew even further with the accessibility of the internet and eventually social media which has given anyone with a smart phone the ability to share their views with everyone.

No longer do we have a standard of truth to hold people accountable to present just the facts without bias.

This has led to both hype & sensationalism along with stubborn ignorance.

The polarization of the people on issues is a natural occurrence.  I’m not saying it’s right, but it develops naturally.  We tend to hang out with people we agree with rather than those we disagree with.  It feels better to be friends with someone you have something in common with versus someone you have nothing in common with.

The reality is that we really have plenty in common we disagree with, if we just have meaningful conversations that don’t dissolve into name calling.

  • The only way to resolve this is to learn what the bias is of the person or media that you are listening to/reading/watching.
  • Once you know the filter that the information is being presented through, you begin to see the Hype that is also going on to magnify and justify that position.
  • Then seek out the opposite or opposing view and see what they say about the same issue.  This is how you can combat Ignorance in your own life.

There is plenty of Hype on both sides of any issue along with individual Ignorance because of staying in our “safe zones”.

I urge you to do your homework and stop blindly agreeing with what others are saying. Become informed and determine your own opinions.  Or you may also find yourself with simply a greater understanding of the various issues and pick up some new friends along the way like I have.

Wanting To Understand

The #BlackLivesMatter movement is one that has been talked about, debated, and mostly misunderstood.

I have heard other white people talk about the concept as if it is a competition…

What skin color matters the most?

Wrong question.

We can not and should not ignore the past.

Nor can we ignore the present.

It’s only by looking at the past and present that the future will be different.

My city is populated by a majority of white skinned people.  We also have a sizeable African-American and Latino population.  Neither is as big as Detroit or Miami.

Our city schools are immensely diverse. High school E.S.L. classes (English as a Second Language) often have over 100 different languages natively spoken by those students each week.

I thought we are a melting pot.  But we’re not.  At least as much as I wish.

In the past couple of years I have had neighbors who were black and Hispanic. But they were the minority and the intermingling of families hasn’t happened.

30 years ago when I worked in Detroit, I had more friends, co-workers and neighbors who were black than I have now.  I had hope for a color-blind generation (my kids) who came home one day after playing with the neighbors kids and remarking that, “Josiah is black.”  It wasn’t a racist comment or even a judgement.  Her comment was simply an observation, like “7 is a prime number.”  She doesn’t remember the conversation because it was no big deal, but her parents remember it.

I recall thinking that I was raising my kids to be non-judgemental and un-prejudicial which I believe they are.

But despite this outlook, they have had different life experiences based solely on their skin color.

My kids and I myself will never be judged by the majority as suspicious or inferior because of our appearance.  If we are afraid of the cops, it’s because we were driving too fast or some other legitimate reason to be pulled over.

I really never thought of white privilege because I’ve had to work hard for stuff.  But as I look around I really don’t need to defend myself that way because it’s not a competition.

There are no laws or rules that can change human hearts.

It has to happen one at a time, person to person.

(There are some laws and rules that need to be revoked that allow or promote division.)

My saying #BlackLivesMatter is simply to promote a fairness and equity that I wish people of all skin colors believed… that skin color is not a way to judge someone.   Yes, #AllLivesMatter but that’s often used to counter the #BlackLivesMatter concept.

In every movement there are going to be extremist and unfortunately the bad ones get all the attention.

You and I have a power we did not have before in communicating on social media and not simply having to remain left in the dust when injustices happened to us or around us.

I really want to understand, but I also want to be part of the solution.

I believe that each generation will make improvements in race relations, but it takes both activity and time to change habits and attitudes.

One last thought.  A correction on something I used to say and I mentioned earlier in this article.  The concept of being color-blind pertaining to judging people by their skin color isn’t really the concept I want to promote because that use of color-blind is often mis-characterized as not seeing the differences.

Embrace the differences instead.  Learn from our differences.  Accept the differences, just don’t judge based on ethnic background.

Politics, Guns, and Prayer

Sometimes it is hard to stay positive.

We have the ability to expose ourselves to the news and opinions of others in such a manner that wasn’t possible a decade ago.  Some of the technology changes in the past year have given us exposure to stuff that wasn’t available in 2015.

I’m thinking of the live video feed on Facebook where a woman began broadcasting a police stop that went horribly wrong as her boyfriend is dying right next to her, her little daughter is in the car seat in the backseat and we see the police officer pointing his weapon and yelling.

I’ve only watched it a couple of times and it was on a cable news show Thursday night, but it is sickening.

The peaceful protests and marches around the country Thursday evening when I went to bed turned deadly after I was asleep and it was the gasp of my wife Friday morning when she turn on the news to hear about the police shootings in Dallas that prompted me to grab my phone and check the news.

We live in a country where there are lots of guns.

Most are owned by law abiding citizens or capable, trained law enforcement officers.

Then there are those that make the news because they broke the law and/or are not fit to carry a weapon.

It’s the second group, a much smaller group that paints such a grim picture of life in America.

The reality is we have always had this mixture of good and bad.

Taking away guns from good people is not the answer because then only the bad people will have guns and the rest of us are their prey just waiting to be shot.

I don’t know the answer to all of this because if it was easy to create a fool proof way to know the good folks from the bad, we would have done it by now.

There are plenty of simple cases of mistaken identity along with criminal activity resulting in having your identity compromised that has made this a complex problem.

By the way, for those that think this kind of thing only happens somewhere else, look around.

At last count, Fort Wayne has had 19 homicides in the first 27 weeks of the year.  Yes, we have a gang problem and that is part of the reason for those deaths.  But there are families and loved ones connected to each of those murders.

Another crime spree has been occurring in a neighborhood I used to live in on the northeast side of town as an arsonist(s) is targeting vacant homes and setting them on fire in the middle of the night.  Clearly not a good person.

As a person of faith as a Christian, I understand that this world we live in is filled with both good and evil and that ultimately I get to escape this chaos on earth to spend eternity in a perfect heaven.  In the meantime, I pray.

When nothing else makes sense, or you don’t know what to do… pray.

That’s been my method of coping with our government too.  I’m not looking forward to the next 4 1/2 years with either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton as President of the United States.

For either one, it’s a power grab and while the Executive Branch has limited power according to our Constitution, I am not impressed that the other two, the Judicial Branch or Legislative Branch are doing much better.

I pray for our government leaders at all levels that they will earnest seek to do God’s will in their personal lives and in the responsibilities they were given.  I pray the same for our first responders and military.  I pray the same for business people and my neighbors.  I pray the same prayer for friends and acquaintances.

I pray for each member of my family, for my wife and myself, to earnestly seek God’s will in our personal lives and the responsibilities we are given.  And I take the time to thank God for the simple blessings along with the complicated blessings too.IMG_20160702_213304713

That’s how I regain a sense of positivity.  How about you?

Citizenship is the Gold Standard

On this 4th of July weekend in the United States there is plenty of talk about how we are a nation of immigrants and well, quite frankly, that conversation is one that is true but it’s the wrong conversation.

We all have hearts that go out to those around the world who are needing help. The question is what do we do about it?

Instead of having a conversation about legal or illegal imigration, perhaps we should be talking about citizenship.

Look at this:

The Value of Citizenship

The United States has a long history of welcoming immigrants from all parts of the world. America values the contributions of immigrants who continue to enrich this country and preserve its legacy as a land of freedom and opportunity.

Deciding to become a U.S. citizen is one of the most important decisions in an individual’s life. If you decide to apply to become a U.S. citizen, you will be showing your commitment to the United States and your loyalty to its Constitution. In return, you are rewarded with all the rights and privileges that are part of U.S. citizenship.

Want to know where I got that? It’s from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website, last updated 3 years ago by our government.

We have a system of immigration that allows people from other countries to come here.  Granted not everyone who comes here wants to be a citizen.  Some are here for a visit, the way Americans like to visit other countries.  Others are here for business, some are here for educational purposes.

We have some who are here for work and others who want to actually become a full fledged citizen of the United States with all the rights and responsibilities mentioned above.

If there is someone in the United States that is not a citizen of the United States, we need to know why they are here.  I just mentioned several legitimate reasons and if there is a reason that fits the criteria, fantastic!

But the undocumented combined with those that have gone underground after overstaying the terms of their visa, those are the ones that we, as citizen of the United States need to be concerned about.

When I was 20 year old I was not legally allowed into bars.  Yet that was the year I drank the most.  I lived in Kokomo, Indiana and went to a couple places with older friends and my age was never an issue.

Except when I went with my over 21 year old friends to a couple of nightclubs in Indianapolis.  The bouncer wouldn’t let me in.  Who was right. me or him?

My legal to drink friends had a plan and as I sat in the parking lot wondering what to do now, I heard one of them call my name from a side door and they snuck me in.

I was an illegal and in order to stay, I had to avoid the bouncer at the door which I managed to do until closing time.  As I walked out he glared at me and said something threatening.

We have a hard enough time determining who the bad folks are who are citizens.  Just like the night club has enough challenges taking care of the over 21 year olds to worry about underage drinkers.

Think about it and let me know your thoughts…