Thursday, November 8, 2012

Nice Guys Finish Last

The morning after the USA election and it looks like Obama at the helm for another 4 years. What does this tell us?

As mentioned in previous blogs this season, I have been openly critical of Mitt Romney and the Republicans not being able to muster more intellectual positions from which to take down a President I perceive as weak and inexperienced.  Yet, for all the hyperbole, dodging positions and outright falsehoods in this race, I think it primarily comes down to one thing. ¨Nice guys finish last¨.

During the 3 Presidential debates, Romney started out so strong...really throwing Obama and the Dems for a loop with his aggressive but rational style, not letting up on the incumbent president for a minute. In the second debate, Obama used some of the same medicine in defense towards Romney, and finally in the 3rd debate he had Romney agreeing with just about every decision he had made the past four years. To me this was cowardice and bad strategy for the challenger. I had the feeling he was surrounded by advisers who were overly calculating and risk averse. Romney of course had come out with some significant guffaws during the campaign...but finishing up the campaign trying to be the ¨nicest guy¨ in the room truly backfired in my opinion. Most of us were looking for fire and passion behind real answers and truth. Instead we got someone trying to be the next ¨Reagan¨...and that just doesn't work anymore.

You see this play out constantly in every day life. In all arenas of competition, it takes warrior style effort and passion to win.  In football, tennis, golf...most every sport demands total devotion and concentration on WINNING. There is no other acceptable outcome but to WIN.

I never felt that passion from Romney.  I think he is truly a nice guy.  He obviously has a nice big family and a supportive wife. He is RICH, which means he has won at some levels of the competition.  Yet, I don`t think he had the fire or passion sufficient to defeat Obama and the socialist agenda of the Democratic party. He did not galvanize the average American to get behind his leadership.

I also think we have seen the death of the religious right controlling American politics.  Personally I welcome this. I think average Americans have tired of combining appeals in religion and politics. It does not take a political position to decide what faith one believes in...and obviously people of ¨faith¨ do not necessarily make better political leaders.  Just look at Jimmy Carter and George Bush.  Both men of evangelical persuasions...yet in my book two of the weakest presidents of my lifetime.  Nice guys even...well, at least Jimmy Carter is.

Nice guy Romney unfortunately no longer serves as the ¨poster image¨ of what an American, or American president, is. America in just a few short decades has homogenized its racial and cultural heritage to finally include men and women of all colors and religions. WASPish Americans can no longer assume their power or control over the American democratic process. Hispanics and Independents have now registered their displeasure with that status-quo that assumes a white anglo saxon protestant is the defacto elite of America. Even in the back-doors of power...that to me being the bankers and billionaires that pull the politicians strings...multi-ethnicity is in...the white-man in the white hat is out. The system is now more controlled by immigrant bankers and global corporate industrialists such as George Soros and Rupert Murdock. These are not religious or principled men of distinction.  They are ruthless warriors with REAL money.

Today´s America no longer has tolerance of extremists or fundamentalists such as the religious right`s Pat Robertson or even Muslim extremists such as Louis Farrakan.  Today`s generation of independent Americans are looking for real solutions not based on old school slogan-ism or drinking Koolaid at the political trough of either main party. The world at large is tired of waiting for ¨trickle down¨ economics.  There are no more excuses for the richest nation on earth NOT to have some form of healthcare that covers all.  Obamacare may not be perfect...but obviously enough people want it so they reelect its author. If anything, Obama may have been very shrewd to tie his name to such legislation...since a majority of Americans are under or non insured.

And should we be surprised that a supposed darling of Wall Street like Mitt Romney should be rejected in his bid to lead the Federal government? It was Obama who rightly or wrongly bailed out all the big boys of Wall Street in 2008. It was Obama who amazingly has continued many of the Bush era policies of ¨fighting the war on terror¨, extending and even adding provisions to the unconstitutional ¨Patriot Act¨, and allowing the FED a free hand to keep the currency printing press going without limits. It seems to me Obama became an unintended Republican in many of his actions. I even heard a news commentator call him more of a ¨moderate Republican than a Progessive Democrat¨ yesterday. Wow.

And of course, very few mainstream Americans were attracted to the image and honest medicine of my last remaining political hero, Congressman Ron Paul. I truly believe that if Romney had been able to swallow his pride, shun the moneyed brokers behind him of the super conservative set, and had taken on more of the truthful change that Ron Paul stood for...he would have won the election.  But now we will never know.

What will be interesting to observe the next four years is how President Obama handles his power and his party.  Will he create a legacy of real leadership, do away with his tendency to try and please everyone, and really take his power seriously?  Does he truly have the people skills to work through the huge divides of Congress and the American people themselves to turn the economy around while still covering all his socialist agenda positions? I personally think he is going to have to ¨walk on water¨ in order to achieve that. For American´s sake, I hope he does.

Unfortunately, I tend to think we are going to have 4 more years of BIG government, increased regulations, government mandated redistribution via taxation...and less influence of the ¨white guys¨.  Nice guys finish last...and while I don't think the ultra conservatives in business or the Republican party are really nice guys...I think you will now see some real ugliness raise its head in this divided nation. The next civil war will not be between North and South, Black and White.  It is going to be the ¨Elite¨ against the growing masses of lower and middle class Americans...and nobody is going to be ¨nice¨ anymore. Atlas we come.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Back to Center...

Even more than usual, this election cycle in the USA has been a battle of extremes...mostly extreme right and extreme left...conservative versus progressive.  The good thing is that I think many of us have had to re evaluate our positions and compare our  ideas with the elite extremists of all persuasions that seem to run the USA government and medias.

Part of growth and evolution of the human mind is about being open minded and willing to re evaluate our opinions based on new information or observations. While it is obviously hard to take seriously someone who changes their minds often...I have grown to respect those who over a decade or more have evolved into different modes of thinking.  Unfortunately this is rare in this life.  Most people, especially those over 50, are very unlikely to change their mind or beliefs that they have blindly or knowingly maintained all of their lives for no real reason at all.  To me, for man to evolve in a more positive direction, one must always be willing to reexamine the evidence and nature of his thoughts and beliefs, compare those thoughts with facts and reality...and then act upon what he knows without apology or question.

Election seasons are always a good time to compare our positions against the onslaught of hyper opinions and ¨spin-meisters¨.  I have found this season to be unusually brutish and devoid of real content when it comes to examining the positions each candidate represents.  Just within my limited network of friends and family, I have found it saddening to see many attacks from left and right that have been simply personal, without truth or rationale behind them. The more extreme someone is right or left, it seems the more blatant and hateful the attacks are. Some of these attacks come from otherwise nice, religious oriented folks who seem to oversimplify the myriad of issues we need to know about before making informed choices of who we vote for as leader for the next four years.

Many people in my network this season have found that while I have many fundamental opinions about how I perceive the has been hard to peg me with a particular label. This makes many uncomfortable. When it comes to politics and religion, I think I have found what I term a middle ground position between all extremes of institutional parties and religions. I have come to think that Rodney King had a point so many years ago...¨can`t we all just get along¨ regardless of our race, creed or political persuasion?

It would appear the answer is NO. This current political race has brought to the surface once again our nation´s ¨Achilles heel¨ of racism and class division.  The elites that HAVE do not want to share with those who don't ..and those who don´t have want to legislate their ¨unfair¨ share with government led redistribution.  Most affiliations and institutional beliefs are dictated by what side of the proverbial tracks somebody came from.  While that is understandable, it still doesn't bode well for the idea of human evolution in a positive direction, and basically relegates everyone to the ¨box¨ they grew up in.

A fundamental principle that I still believe is that ¨to whom much is given, much is required¨.  While that can be interpreted in many ways, for me it fundamentally means that if you grow up in wealth or have the good fortune of making end up being responsible for what you do with that good fortune. If we allow it to be heard, I believe every human has an inner voice that says ¨share in a responsible way with those in your path who need a lift up¨.  It is a version of the ¨Golden Rule¨ that is either innate or learned along the way in life.

In my 50+ years I have changed a lot from the ¨box¨ I grew up in.  One could say, the acorn somehow fell far from the tree.  Who I am, the way I think, how I feel, my passions and pursuits... haven't really changed that much. But, WHAT I think and believe has changed immensely based on lifelong reasoning, experience and basic trial and error. I have come to the position that Shakespeare was right when he said ¨to thine own self be true¨.  This is the core of integrity and truth. This to me is the ultimate meaning of life.  Its more about the journey than it is ¨arriving¨.  While I have not yet arrived, I am much closer to understanding what this life is about than I did in my teens or twenties. I guess that is progress...

All of this to say, I think overall I am arriving to a centrist position on most of today`s battles of thought or reasoning.  I don`t believe socialism works...but I believe to be humane we must have a heart for helping those less fortunate than ourselves.  While I tend to believe in Capitalism as the best way to manage economics, I don´t believe we can have Capitalism without some level of social responsibility for the truly poor, needy or handicapped.  For the richest nation on earth to not have a safety net of basic care and concern for the poor and needy is unconscionable.  But then again, if the poor and needy are not willing to lift a finger for their own plight...that has to be taken into account as well.  Everyone needs to be accountable to the other. If you help me, I am accountable to you for what I did with your help...and vice verse.

I think the world`s institutions have proven that a united approach to the world`s conflicts is very unlikely. It is down to the ¨power of one¨ to change and influence our world for better or for worse. I have always thought that the problem of world poverty and hunger is not about ¨supply¨ but about ¨distribution¨.  At the core of the distribution issue are nation states who roadblock that distribution based on greed and coveting of the leading families and governments of those nation states. There is inherent institutional corruption at the core of the world order of things. There is very little truth and justice in how world agreements are arrived at.

I learned long ago that the world at large really doesn't want to change or ¨be saved¨ by my particular agenda or understanding, and there is increasing mistrust of the worlds institutions. We don´t trust people of other races, religions or political parties.  Most people find it hard to arrive at central, common ground when it comes to politics or beliefs.  That is why we have such a divided government...which reflects the divided country we come from.

I do believe the best American trait that I have believed in from growing up in America is that of independence and sovereignty over our own lives.  Traditionally Americans have believed at the core that they are free to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness without interference from governments or religions. Unfortunately, many of us are now abdicating our liberty for going along with the ¨new order¨ of things.  Our media and education systems continue to dilute the independent American spirit. To me, neither party in power in the USA is running on this kind of American ideal, and yet a majority of Americans don´t seem to care about those ideals anymore either, and that is reflected in the voting booths.

I do think the independent centrists will determine the American election next week. Many of us will vote our consciences with smaller third parties.  Others will decide they want to have a 50/50 chance of siding with a likely ¨winner¨.  Personally, I think we lose with either main party candidate and platform right now.  Neither leading candidate has a unifying agenda.  I guess we will have to wait another four years to hopefully see a more centrist, moderate leader for the world`s most powerful and influential nation.