Tag Archives: unite

Zoom, zoom, Newt’s in space

Newt Gingrich is at it again, you can’t really blame him, he is trying to win in Florida and needs a hook. It’s time to get out the zoom lens. The “zoom lens” is a mental exercise and visual trick that helps to see both a progressive and conservative point of view; it’s another way to see the multiple causes that form a progressive opinion vs. the few causes that form conservative ones. While the lens is trained on Newt you see a candidate that needs votes and needs to tell the electorate something that will make him more desirable and set him apart from the field. Newt knows that he must cut through the media chatter – people don’t want to get bogged down in policy talk or quibbling. Newt wants to be seen as a big, bold idea man. He’s put forth an edgy idea and he’s channeling Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy at the same time. He’s calculated his position and is taking a gamble on the desperate needs of the unemployed; especially the Florida unemployed.

Like lot’s of Americans, Newt is a space fan and has been for a long time. He was a youth when JFK made the press to go to the moon and I’m sure moon-talk was the uber-cool, cutting edge, techno geekspeak of the day. JFK – the still wildly popular Democratic president- created a bold challenge for Americans and gave it a deadline. Newt really needs a fresh idea to jump start the economy so he is dusting the cobwebs off of the idea of space exploration and is trying to do what Kennedy did – it just so happens that he’s pushing it in a state that has lost thousands of jobs to the shuttering of the space programs. Gingrich is channeling one of the most popular Democratic presidents in history and one of the most popular Republican presidents in history too – Ronald Reagan. Both of these presidents had big ideas that saved their butts. Reagan’s ideas were big because he crafted our current economic down turn with his deregulation plans, rejection of “do-gooders” (empathetic/altruistic people), and desire for “morning in America”. It is almost irrelevant what either president was talking about, what was really important is how they made Americans feel.

Feeling is more important than thinking when we make decisions. Continue reading

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An Occupied Kind of Tea Party

The Occupy movement has done much to change the conversation in our country around issues of commerce, the worker’s plight, and the inequity that exists between the very rich and the rest of us. I am thankful that they’ve done it because the status quo discourse around those matters was painfully apathetic. There is one unfortunate aspect to what has happened in the Occupy movement that provides a chink in their armor, it’s a path that creates further division – not unity – for their cause.

I would have hoped that early on the Occupy movement would have recognized the similarities between themselves and the Tea Partiers that demonstrated a season before them. You can point out many differences but the power comes from pointing out the similarities. The Tea Party started as a rejection of the bail out of the banks – little guys vs. big guys, the workers vs. the monied classes.  They were hostile to Wall Street and the preferences showed them over Main St. It was said that they despised all things big, Big Government, Big Banks, Big Business and Big Taxes – hey, I see a solid half of values matching up. Even Big Government and Big Taxes are contested concepts and relative terms; I don’t know many people that want bigger taxes and government just for the sake of being big. Since the start of the Occupy movement – and since it is commonplace to pit folks against each other – comparisons have been made between the Occupy and Tea Party Movement.

It is time for those of us with respect for our fellow humans to try and recognize our similarities and affinities and draw from them rather than point and laugh at our differences. Originally Tea Partiers were grassroots, organically organized, and rightfully upset at a system that had discounted their opinion. These very basic and authentic roots resonate with most of us, especially the Occupy sympathizers. I for one, as a sympathizer, want to reach out to my fellow citizens and human beings. I can respectfully disagree with some points and then wholeheartedly agree with many others. We agree that our system is dysfunctional. We agree that opportunity should be fair and that favoritism is fundamentally unfair. We don’t like our tax dollars or reputations to be squandered doing wasteful or hurtful things to others. There are a host of values that we align with that could be emphasized instead of taking cheap shots and trying to “gotcha!” each other.

I come from a family and area in the Midwest where it is common that find myself in a room of loved ones that do not politically agree with me, it does not make me love them less. It used to make me like them less, but now I understand where they are coming from and the values that they hold dear. Because I also hold my values dear and would fight to uphold them, it gives me respect for my debate partner to hear their well reasoned points ring with passion and integrity. When I hear rigorous debate that ditches the sophomoric name calling and embraces ethical rules of engagement, I have hope for the future. A glorious, wonderful thing happens when we give each other the time and space to express themselves in a respectable manner: our guard relaxes, we feel safer and we open our minds to begin learning from each other. We will never all agree with each other, but we can remind each other that we are human and at least in that, we have some common values. If we are to continuing to exist, we might as well try to bring out the best in each other.

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Martin Luther King Jr.: It’s About Us, Not Him

What is it about Martin Luther King Jr. that makes him such a great American figure? He is held up as a gold standard for standing up for civil rights, he is put on par with Gandhi, some might even say Jesus. He still has a massive influence on billions of people around the globe. Dr. King did participate in radical civil disobedience – but so did thousands of others. He even died a martyr which does get one noticed, but again, thousands, if not millions of people have been martyrs of sorts in their own way, even if it was not broadcast on television. Why did he strike such a cord with so many and what did he really stand for?

Martin was an amazing orator. It wasn’t really his vocalizations – his style was kind of preachy and repetitive in it’s rising and falling tone, line after line. It was his words. They spoke to all of us. The accompanying imagery of the civil rights era certainly played a key role in winning hearts and minds, but even without those, it’s hard to not be moved by Martin’s words. He chose his words carefully, he used personal stories, he started with his values. What parent can’t relate to wanting their children to have the same basic rights and privileges that other children enjoy? That speaks to the value of equality, opportunity, and justice. What grown man can’t relate to the indignity of being called “boy”  as a reminder of a lower station in life? That insults the values of self-respect, personal responsibility, and disregards any achievements.  As a minister he spoke with a passion for his religion and called on the moral authority of God to override man made laws that were unjust. He appealed to our compassion when recalling those that had been jailed, beaten, and killed before him when they were simply insisting to be treated as any other human.

Martin Luther King Jr. was able to touch on the values of nearly every human on the planet in his speeches: he beautifully combined the two top priorities of both conservatives and liberals – authority and empathy, respectively. He did this consistently, unapologetically, and persistently. He did this while keeping his language civilized and his logic intact. His driving force was not fear. He was not a reactionary – unless you consider it a reaction to the injustices that began since before our country was founded.  Yes, it cannot be denied that Martin was an exceptional American and an inspiration, however, we still don’t necessarily get his message quite right when celebrating his life. Continue reading

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