GOP Shift to the Right

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Here’s one of the fundamental puzzles in American politics these days: how is it, in a two-party system which by design and long habit converges on the center, that the Republicans have doggedly and successfully shifted the action, the Congress and the Supreme Court to the far right? Has it been a continuous movement since Barry Goldwater’s failed presidential bid in 1964? What accounts for the conservatives’ tight and effective grip on the game? Have George W. Bush’s setbacks–Iraq, Katrina, the corruption trials–undone the pattern? And what does it do to our democracy to have the political conversation directed almost entirely from the right?

Jacob Hacker, one of the co-authors of Off Center, will be joining us, among others. Potter provided one source of inspiration for this show, and blogger Josh Marshall is featuring Off Center in his lively bookclub over at TPMCafe Book Club.

Jacob Hacker

Co-author, Off Center: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy.

Professor of political science at Yale University.

Rick Perlstein

Contributor, Huffington Post.

Author, Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus.

Contributor, Slate, The Nation, and the London Review of Books, among others.

Josh Marshall

Blogger, Talking Points Memo and TPM Cafe.

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  • elphaba

    What accounts for the conservatives tight and effective grip on the game?

    They have a successful two pronged approach. They appeal to the fundamentalist Christians who provide grassroots organization and votes. They appeal to the wealthy American elite who provide money for effective public relations campaigns and advertising.

    The conservatives have wrapped themselves in morality. They seem simple and straightforward. Issues are black and white, good and bad, there is no messy nuance. What they have to say is positive and fits well into a thirty second news flash.

    George W Bush is the perfect president for the people he represents. He appeals to mainstream America. He’s the kind of guy you’d have over to a Bar-B-Q or have a few beers with after work. He talks like one of us, not some highly educated intellectual. George is a no big word kind of guy. You know he goes to church and believes in Jesus, so you believe him when he says: When we give money back to investors they will create jobs. The rich should get the biggest tax cut because they pay the most taxes. They are paying for access it’s not bribery.

    Another huge reason for their effective hold on power is a weak opposition. Democrats need to take back morality. If the Republicans want to talk Christianity, then do so. What would Jesus say about……… As Jim Wallis says since when did Jesus become pro war, pro rich, against the environment and Republican. They need a positive forward looking agenda that has a plan to address issues we are facing. Real leadership is missing in the Democrats.

  • Potter

    All of the above and well said but I would also add a level of corruption and deceipt and a hunger for power (having the whole enchilda) at the expense of national consensus, bi-partisanship, checks and balances.

    Various commentators have admitted that all this went on before but what we see now is another order of magnitude.

    Republicans put their establishment wholly behind getting George W. Bush into the White House. That he was barely qualified, if at all, did not seem to matter. If you remember the discussions at the time ( 2000) Republicans wanted the WH badly after 8 years of Clinton (in which they did everything they could to drag him down). Bush was appealing on the stump and could win and that was all that mattered. Cheney and Powell were on the ticket to give weight and assurance.

    I hold the Republicans responsible for these results as much as GWB himself.

    But that’s just the presidency. What is going on in Congress is enough to make your hair stand out.

    And it’s true—where are the Democrats? Goodness knows they have plenty of material to work with!

    Is this a self-limiting disease or are we truly witnessing the destruction of our experiment?

  • Potter

    From today’s Washington Post: politics wins over voting rights in the Justice Department.

    From the article:

    “The Justice Department has barred staff attorneys from offering recommendations in major Voting Rights Act cases, marking a significant change in the procedures meant to insulate such decisions from politics, congressional aides and current and former employees familiar with the issue said.

    Disclosure of the change comes amid growing public criticism of Justice Department decisions to approve Republican-engineered plans in Texas and Georgia that were found to hurt minority voters by career staff attorneys who analyzed the plans. Political appointees overruled staff findings in both cases.”

  • elphaba

    I think changes in the media in the past 15 -20 years may also be a big contributer. News is now entertainment in a way that it wasn’t before. Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton were pure entertainment. There isn’t anything titillating about George W Bush. The real political scandals are too complex to explain in 30 seconds.

    There was a time that we subscribed to Time and Newsweek magazine. I picked up a Newsweek magazine a couple of weeks ago and what passed for news wasn’t economics, politics and policy, international events; it was “human interest” and entertainment. We now get the Economist.

    The conservatives rule the radio talk shows. These are important because people listen to them when they are driving to and from work. The Rush Limbaughs use strong emotional appeals and people find them entertaining.

    The conservatives make complex issues look simple. They control the conversation skillfully. I think they are also matching their message with a strong message to get out and vote.

    I was very heartened when I heard some clips from Comedy Central. I haven’t watched it ( no television ) but the comedian that was being interviewed on Fresh Air does a fake news show. He did a bit from that weeks news about Tom Delay. One of the charges against DeLay was dismissed. The comedian succcinctly summarized it with a punchline of “that’s not illegal at the time it was committed.” People don’t pay attention to the news, but they do watch comedy. Its entertainment. Now if they would only vote.

    Politics wins over voting rights. This isn’t new for this administration. They have done this with the FDA and the EPA. The FDA staff recommended to aprove the morning after pill. The political head disaproved it against recommendation. The EPA had a report on climate change, changed by the political head. The White House even demanded a change to the offical record when Scott McClellon admitted something he wasn’t supposed to. It was public, it was recorded for all to hear. (There are so many things I find scandalous, I’m confused which one it was.)

    These things don’t seem to make it into the consciousness of a critical 5% of the voting population.

  • Now, I’m sure there is meat to “Off Center”, but as far as I can tell from a cursory look at a review of the book, it seem to miss such a large part of the explanation as to obscure as much as it sheds light on – and my perusal of the TPM Cafe discussion doesn’t suggest otherwise.

    Frankly, I find this bizarre.

    Any attempt to explain the move of the GOP to the right over the last 20 years which does not specifically address the rise of the Christian nationalist theocratic movement is not merely incomplete but – indeed – is downright misleading.

    Prior to the GOP takeover of Congress in 1994, a number of writers chronicled the intentional takeover of state GOP party machineries – from within – by a disciplined Christian faction which has, by now, control of at least 2/3 of state level GOP party systems. Joe Conason wrote about this at the time, as did Frederick Clarkson and others….. over at Talk To Action you can read first person accounts, by Joan Bokaer, Fred Clarkson, Dr. Bruce Prescott, and others – who witnessed the planning for takeovers undercover or, as did Bruce Prescott, who lived through ground zero of the first state GOP takeover by the Christian right – in Texas.

    There’s plenty of documentation, and those who engineered the Christian takeover of the GOP have testified candidly enough on how it was done. What’s a mystery is the continued denial of the religious dimension of the GOP’s sudden lurch to the right. That in itself may constitute a story worthy of talk radio – although perhaps not by Radio Open Source.

    The territory may just – for now anyway – be too much of a cognitive stretch for those who haven’t paid specific attention. But Radio Open source is a promising venture and so I hope the show gets a bit more up to speed on this issue.

  • Also – Joan Bokaer has a superb compilation of journalism from the early 90’s detailing the religious right’s takeover of the GOP party machinery “, over on Theocracy Watch / “Taking Over the Republican Party”

    __________

    “According to Craig Berkman, former chairman of the Republican Party in Oregon:

    ‘They have acquired a very detailed and accurate understanding of how political parties are organized. Parties are very susceptible to being taken over by ideologues because lower party offices have no appeal to the vast majority of our citizenry. Many precincts are represented by no one. If you decide all of a sudden because it’s your Christian duty to become a precinct representative, you only need a few votes to get elected.

    Increasingly, they have the key say-so on who will be a delegate at the national convention, and who will write the party platform and nominate the presidential candidate. In a state like Oregon, with 600,000 registered Republicans, it is possible for 2000 or 3000 people to control the state party apparatus. If they are outvoted by one or two votes, parliamentary manipulations begin, and after two or three hours of discussion about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, the more reasonable people with other things to do leave, and in the wee hours of the morning, things are decided. That’s how they achieve their objectives.’ ” – from a 1993 article in the Nation by Greg Goldin entitled “”The Fifteen Percent Solution: How the Christian Right Is Building From Below To Take Over From Above”

  • nother

    The “rightâ€? is white, Christian white – predominantly. The “redâ€? states who vote right are Christian white – predominantly, right? Are we not seeing a coalescing of these people in an attempt to keep the face of America white – Christian white, a kind of circling of the wagons of identity? Just look at the current uproar over the phrase “Happy Holidays,â€? as opposed to “Merry Christmas.â€? Until the non-voting non-white Christians start voting their actual numbers, we will not see real change in our politics or our identity; yet there might be hell to pay in the mean time.

    There is also the cultural element, which over the years has shifted remarkably left. I remember the attention the lesbian kiss had on the sitcom Rosanne, now you can see lesbians kiss on commercials for “Girls Gone Wild.â€? Most homes have cable and the stuff you see on Cinemax at 8:00 pm would have been considered pornographic ten years ago. At the click of a mouse a child can now download hardcore porn – it’s a “reality!” Shows like the Soprano’s have upped the anti on violence and language. How much of the political shift to the right is a reaction to this cultural shift to the left? Is it two sides of the same coin?

  • seenthat

    Chris, I take offense at your statement that ours is only but a “two-party system.”

    With such a wrongful premise at the very beginning of the topic, why should I even go on to read what you’ve written?

    You know better. You must.

  • I think nother is onto something in in the ‘circling of the wagons’ comment. Dysfunction is usually fueled by fear. Fear controls us unless we are inspired to risk facing that fear for the chance at gaining something worth that risk. I had the same thoughts about all this “Happy Holidays” hoopla. How can the dominant group in a culture claim to be oppressed? What are they feeling so threatened by? The growing culture of inclusiveness isn’t telling christians that they can’t practice their faith. Its simply reminding them that faith is personal and you can’t assume everyone shares your brand. And that get’s to nother’s point: its about the branding of the USA. Its about tribe.

    If I were to look for the positive in this, I’d say that people are looking for what connects us all as a tribe and they want it to be more than the lowest common denominator. They don’t want the defining character of being an American to be about Disney movies and Abercrombie and Fitch. Its one thing to have the ideal of a melting pot society, its another to live it. Especially if you feel that the moral compass you thought your society was using has melted away. If you have been in the demographic majority and you feel that everything that defines you has to be given up to accomodate newcomers, you’re likely to hunker down. You worry that you won’t feel morally aligned with the new tribe. That the new tribe won’t deem you a valid member.

    So, instead of attacking each other, we might recognize that we’re struggling as a young nation to define a culture and a code of ethics that is inclusive of more life views than has ever really been done before. As we do so, we ask a vast number of people to risk leaving the coccoon of their existing tribe and join a new tribe. And when you do, its changing the mundane things like saying, “Merry Christmas” that can trigger the most fear. Its asking a lot for people to reconsider the way they do so many seeminly little things. In an attempt to validate and invite a broader group of people into a redefined tribe, the pre-existing tribe is the one under the microscope, having everything they do examined.

    Think about someone coming into your house to examine the way you do everything from getting out of bed, to eating your breakfast, to taking a shower. You didn’t ask for these things to be examined. You’re told its for the greater good. And you’re being told how wrong you do everything. the way you roll out of bed is an insult. You take your shower like you own the world. Your breakfast wreaks of racism. How much of it do you think you could take before you would lash out? Is there anything good about you? Besides, the completely unnerving sense that there is nothing about you that is solid and without question, there is the issue of self-worth. Of being judged and condemned. You have to change everything about yourself to be acceptable. That’s a lot of ego to let go of. Think you can do it? How much chipping away at the definition of you until you reinforce what’s left with an impenetrable fortress and see everything as an apocolyptic struggle for survival?

    When you’ve been in the majority, you’ve haven’t had to engage in self-examination, to define your identity and to consider how your expressions of identity impact others. It requires an unpracticed empathy. It can be painful. We don’t naturally walk towards pain. Nor do we embrace change readily. If you want people to make themselves vulnerable to such scrutiny and willing to make changes, you have to give them a self-motivation for doing so, or inspire them with a higher calling. And you have to embrace them, offer them comfort as you ask so much of them. We have only had glimpses of inspiration. I can’t currently name one politician that I hear inspirationally calling us all to higher ground. Instead, the far right uses the lingo of inspirational speech to foster the fears of change and introspection. They sow the seeds and tend the fields of the most primal tribal fears and serve themselves a sumptuous feast each harvest, while we stand in the fields starving.

    I do believe that someone who genuinely calls upon the higher spirits of us all, someone selflessly compelled to lead, can cut through our armor plating and pierce our nation’s heart with enough light to help us see the way. To do so, we have to counter fear with love, oppression with appreciation, and condemnation with compassion. All of these will give us the strength to do the right thing, because we will know that we are doing it the right way. We must act against wrong behavior, while still working for all people. Fight the idea, embrace the person.

    Embrace the true christianity in christians and let them know that we appreciate the fact that it has been a christian culture that has built a country so desirable that people have come here from everywhere to join in. And that however we redefine our tribe, they will be welcome and have a valuable role. Respect their deeply held convictions, even if they seem unreasonable to you, and invite them to assist in finding workable resolutions to defining a multi-cultural tribe. Help them rid themselves of fear and they will run from the self-serving fear mongerers. They would prefer not to have fear. They just don’t know how to get rid of it. It has a grip on them.

    And let’s all embrace the fact that given the monumentally complex task of what we’re trying to do, we will make mistakes. And that’s okay, as long as when we see them as mistakes, we learn and take corrective action without condemning ourselves and each other. I know we can do this. We have incredible amounts of creativity and ingenuity and fortitude in this country. It should not be so hard to rally that towards something so fabulous that we truly change the world for the better. Doesn’t anybody else have faith in us? – I don’t hear anyone expressing that they do – Or are we a juvenile nation so full of cynicism and immortality that we can’t lift our sullen heads, turn our eyes to the sky and dream of flying?

    The far right is betting on cynicism and so far their kitty is full.

  • nother

    Allison- I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to hear a voice lacking virulent. It is so easy to be Statler and Waldorf, the grumpy old men on the Muppets heckling from the balcony. Well, the balcony is full (the kitty, as Allison put it) and the show must go on.

    Allison beautifully tells us: “I do believe that someone who genuinely calls upon the higher spirits of us all, someone selflessly compelled to lead, can cut through our armor plating and pierce our nation’s heart with enough light to help us see the way. To do so, we have to counter fear with love, oppression with appreciation, and condemnation with compassion.�

    Maybe we need to look back in order to move forward.

    Lincoln tells us: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861.

    These people on the “right� are not the “other,� they are us! To me, the question for our future, and one that I hope ROS will find ways to explore, is going forward, how we will define this “multi-cultural tribe� that Allison so eloquently spoke of, what will “connect� us? Maybe it will be the pugnacious spirit that John Updike saw in Copley’s portraits of Americans. Maybe it will be the fierce individualism and deep generosity of Emerson. Or maybe it will be Ellington’s ability to be both folksy and elegant at the same time.

    One problem right now is that the tribe is becoming multi-cultural but the tribal leaders are as homogeneous as ever. We must convince more people like Barack Obama to enter politics and then we must make it easier for our citizens to vote.

    Allison, you say, “we ask a vast number of people to risk leaving the cocoon of their existing tribe and join a new tribe� To me the irony is that those of us who are in this pre-existing tribe and who are grasping onto to old identities, are living just fine in the multi-cultural reality outside our door. We work with and interact with other cultures all day, but then we go home and watch TV and listen to talk radio spew fear and before you know it, our rhetoric is out of tune with our reality.

    There is no doubt that the way forward “with our eyes to the sky� will be to shed ourselves from this crossfire of fear. Only an olive branch is strong enough to pull us from the quicksand of anger we so often step in. I suggest that the first code in our “code of ethics� should be your statement “fight the idea, embrace the person.� I love your idea that what it will take is, “unpracticed empathy� for us to move on, and I have absolute faith that the “better angles of our nature� will deliver this empathy.

    In the next election I can guarantee one write-in vote for Allison from ROS.

    Garrett

  • cheesechowmain

    Any comments/observations about the effect Frank Luntz has had on D.C. politics and how its conducted?

  • cheesechowmain

    Any comments/observations about the effect John M. Olin has had on D.C. politics and how it’s conducted?

  • A little yellow bird

    seenthat: May I be so presumptuous as to attempt to speak for our exalted and heretofore seemingly compos mentis host (and I’ll be as offended as you if it turns out I’m wrong…)? I think Christopher means, at least in part, that despite all inroads to the contrary, we effectively have only two official mascots: Dumbo (the elephant), and Dumber (the donkey). That said, IMHO, we only have ONE party: the war party; the party of empire, and the party of those already loudly-represented… and nothing is new about it, except its technological ability to lock itself immovably into eternal position as never before. Voting is a part of the authorized bread and circus to help dampen desire for genuine revolt. The gist of the same government gets re-elected every time. BTW, there is nothing conservative, either in the semantic sense, nor in the historical sense, about the mod Republican Party: this is not your granddad’s GOP.

  • Jackson

    A couple of things: Hey, Brendan! Hey, Mary!

    I was intrigued to learn this morning (via Alan Wolfe) that the Southern Baptist Conference endorsed Roe v. Wade when it first came down from SCOTUS. It was only in later years — when the 80s turned to the 90s — that the Southern Baptists developed a concern for Roe.

    Wolfe also reminded me that there was a time when Presbyterians had some serious theological conflicts with Catholics (anybody remember JFK’s potential allegiance to Rome?) — but now no one really thinks about theology any more. While amplifying our religiosity, we have managed to take the sex out of sectarian.

    Has the GOP feigned right, giving us multiplex religion only as a distraction from the real business at hand? Note how few of their cultural initiatives have actually carried — and no wonder: their real tasks turned on bankruptcy laws, on Medicare prescriptions, on Social Security.

    Don’t let the holy smoke and mirrors fool you…

  • Potter

    Allison and nother: two beautiful essays and an expansive conversation, soaring and inspirational. Truly. Of course, this is the way. This reminds me too of a suggestion made by Jon on the original suggestions thread on red white and blue america. How can we live together?

    But opposed to how people should be and in the absense of inspirational leaders with raised consciences I ask: how we can rescue this country from what to me looks alarming: One element, call them the Christian white ( probably not even a majority of Christians) another element,business corporate interests/ the wealthy-greedy, both teaming up to usurp what belongs to all of us?

    In very weak opposition we have a relatively disorganized but inclusive multi-ethnic group of liberals of varying degrees, yes with some elites and intellectuals, but probably mostly working class and/ but no articulated unifying ideology.

    We are losing a government we created for all the people! Maybe we never had such a thing, but certainly we had more of one, more of a feeling of national unity,and certainly we should be moving in that direction not the opposite! Democrats who represent a majority of the people in this country (if I am not mistaken) are literally being locked out of the decision making!

    Isn’t what we are seeing here in this country a version of what is happening elsewhere, for example Europe? A primary or original group or “tribe”, fearful of losing their identity and power as multi-culturalism and liberalism grows, contrives to hold onto it.

    So I think nother and Allison above have analysed the problem, expressed it very well and pointed to where we should be going but the question remains: how do we short circuit the immediate and real threats to our democracy?

    Hillary Clinton’s pathetic answer is to offer legislation against flag burning:

    http://www.newsday.com/news/local/wire/newyork/ny-bc-ny-brf–clinton-flag-1205dec05,0,7179096.story?coll=ny-region-apnewyork

  • Potter

    Sorry I meant to write above “raised consciousness” not “raised conscience”.

    But opposed to how people should be and in the absense of inspirational leaders with raised consciousness…….

  • Potter

    FYI- Jon’s post on Red White and Blue America

  • Griflet

    We need to consider the role of multiple right wing propaganda mills (think tanks). There are too many of them for me to keep track of but there are some people who do. This may be a whole program, we need to know more about who they are and how they operate. Thier has been to shift the center to the far right.

    Remember the Hunt brothers? They tried to corner the silvwer market years ago.

    I have heard they also provided some massive funding for right wing religous groups. We also have the founder of Domino’s Pizza funding right wing Catholic organizations. Bill Gates has provided funding for the outfit in Portland that has been the primary promoter of intelegent design, though for another project.

  • A little yellow bird

    The “other” party that the war-ligarchy allows to exist (Democratic) doesn’t offer much in the way of alternatives; doesn’t put up much of a fight. Of course very few people even consider the alternative of decimating the huge warfare state and thereby mooting the point. Up with the Vermont (and other) secessionists!

  • cheesechowmain

    The conservative movement has made significant inroads/advances into Leverage Institutions: Media, Think Tanks, Education.

    The conservative movement has made effective use of wedge issues to get-out-the-vote. The discourse on these issues is reduced to an entertainment/theatrical format (e.g. non-guested confrontational radio). The issues and their presentation become vehicles for generating advertising dollars and inflating stock investments. Media companies have historically enjoyed higher margins on return-on-investment than other businesses.

  • jdyer

    I don’t believe that the GOP shifted to the right as much as it doesn’t feel it has to accomodate itself to pressures from the left.

    Once the Soviet Union collapsed the conservatives felt they had carte blanche on treating the workers like merde.

    The best way to talk about these political shifts is to look at them historically.

  • jdyer

    I should add that the same is true for politics on all sides.

    The response of the left has been equally disappointing: they seem to want to make common cause with every scummy totalitarian movement and leaders just because the are anti-capitalist.

    Too often they find themselves in bed with racists and anti-Semites.

  • A little yellow bird

    “If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about the answers.” – Thomas Pynchon

  • mulp

    It seems to me erroneous to say that the Republican party has shifted to the right when their legislation has no ideology that fits the right or left. I heard the word machine used, and that is a far more appropriate term for what is happening in governance.

    What does happen in the campaigns is a constant stream of blaming Democrats for all the ills. A common one is “liberal legislating from the bench” when 7 out of 9 Justices were appointed by Republicans which would rightly be considered conservative.

    Consider any debate on the two parties, the Republicans are the party of balanced budgets and small government, and the Democrats are the tax and spend, big government, big deficit party.

    The Republican campaigns have been a prime example of the lie repeated often enough becomes truth.

  • loki

    What happen to our Contistutional checks and balances. What was the critical check on the power of the president.

  • lmc035

    Wow! I see a lot of blue staters here!

  • lmc035

    All is right in the world for those of us who voted for Bush!

  • A little yellow bird

    lmc035: And at least one no-stater!

  • lmc035

    Tax cuts are good for the economy. I’ve seen what government does with the money (not much).

  • A little yellow bird

    lmc035: Aha! An agent provocateur has entered the fray! En garde!

  • A little yellow bird

    lmc035: How about even more tax cuts–like the half-a-trillion Bush’s criminal war is costing?

  • lmc035

    Just like a liberal to blame our president for the crimes of Saddam Hussein!

    To liberals, it’s all our fault. Americans need to bow down to the world and confess our sins.

  • lmc035

    I don’t live in America so I can be ruled by the U.N.

  • A little yellow bird

    No, you live in America so you can be ruled by Halliburton…

  • lmc035

    Liberals are too cinical. How else do you explain Democrats like Delahunt and Reed dealing with a dictator to give free oil to those in need in Massachusetts & RI. (Red States)

  • A little yellow bird

    Good news! George W.M.D. Bush is TAKING RESPONSIBILITY for the war, he says: he’s going to tearfully confess to war crimes at the new Nuremberg and volunteer to be the first lying Viet Nam War deserter to hang by his neck! Wow–he has some saving grace, after all…maybe he really DOES believe in Christ!

  • lmc035

    Let’s just imagine what the world would be like today if John Kerry was president.

    Or worse, Albert Gore!

  • lmc035

    I think the media and those who believe the media find it very hard to understand that there are other viewpoints out there which may be accurate.

    The media/liberal idea of the ‘center’ doesn’t correspond with reality. Hard left since the 60’s baby!

  • Potter

    A vocabulary for the evening:

    Motivation, Machine, Money, Media Management

    Corruption, Cronyism, Competence

    pushing, principles, priorities

  • Nikos

    allison wrote:

    “When you’ve been in the majority, you haven’t had to engage in self-examination, to define your identity and to consider how your expressions of identity impact others. It requires an unpracticed empathy. It can be painful.�

    That’s flatly brilliant. Thank You.

    Next:

    “If you want people to make themselves vulnerable to such scrutiny and willing to make changes, you have to give them a self-motivation for doing so, or inspire them with a higher calling. And you have to embrace them, offer them comfort as you ask so much of them. We have only had glimpses of inspiration. I can’t currently name one politician that I hear inspirationally calling us all to higher ground.�

    I know it’s ancient history now (politically), but the late Paul Tsongas did just that in 1992. ’Course then Slick Willy stole his platform, distilling Tsongas’s 80+ page position booklet into a 44 page plagiarism, and Willy (who, despite this critique, I miss dreadfully) was a much better 30-second-sound-bite guy, and much better looking, too. Which brings us back to your media comments: politics in this country is now dominated by appearance and style over substance. So now we need a messenger like Tsongas in an attractive package. Hmmm… Barak Obama, anyone? (And what a pity that Jen Granholm was born in British Columbia!)

    Next: “Respect their deeply held convictions, even if they seem unreasonable to you, and invite them to assist in finding workable resolutions to defining a multi-cultural tribe. Help them rid themselves of fear and they will run from the self-serving fear-mongers. They would prefer not to have fear. They just don’t know how to get rid of it. It has a grip on them.”

    Great words, Allison, really. But I’m a skeptic (although not of you). One thing common to fundamentalists, Christian, Muslim, Jew, or Other, is that your respect isn’t enough. They want ALL OF US to see the world through their parochial lens – and if given enough power, they’ll begin to force it. Hence Creationism, Intelligent Design, righteous scorn of unbelievers, pillories, witch hunts, and inquisitions (each of these is a segment of the same faith-based continuum). I don’t trust their lip service to pluralism, because as the nation continues to slip into superstition, and fundamentalist Christian power waxes, they’ll begin to agitate for things like bible study in all schools. Oh, sure, it’ll start as something else, like a push for optional bible study for ‘victimized/ostracized Christian children’, but if won, it won’t stop there. Just wait. I grew up with these folks. They’d do it NOW if they thought they could get away with it.

    What’s more: why in the world have we fallen into such fear of these kooks that an intellectually honest atheist is automatically disqualified for public office? I’d much rather vote for such a person than any of these christian hypocrites like Bush and DeLay!

    Sigh. Canada looks better with every passing day.

    Anyway, despite my partially jaded reaction, I’m with you.

    Allison for President!

  • Nikos

    Whoa! I hadn’t read nother’s reply to allison before writing mine! Right on, nother! Sorry to seem like a mimic, but it was quite accidental.

    I guess Allison better start looking for a fundraising commitee, hmmm?

    😉

  • Potter

    I was depressed about this before the show, after the show last night and I am depressed this morning after sleeping on it…….Chris’s post-game analysis exacerbated that feeling. No wonder some of you above took the high road to “just imagine” early on even if only to save yourselves.

    Chris talks about the primacy of the Iraq fiasco and empire. Oh all those articles we read about empire right after 9/11 and just prioir to the invasion of Iraq!

    My gut feeling from the first was that we were taken into this imperial venture for political reasons primarily: to ensure the re- election of Bush. Never mind the price. Indeed many seemed to vote for this so as to not “change horses in the midstream” of a war, even one they questioned.

    If we are in the last days of Rome, as Chris says, is it because of a serious breakdown or failure in our democractic infrastructure, checks and balances, the rise of a imperial Presidency and the decline in citizenship.

    The big words of the evening for me was not empire but “machine” and “motivation”.

    A program about Rome, maybe a two parter, would be very interesting.

    But better yet, read poetry, talk about novels and cookbooks.

  • Abby

    Chris, I think that the imperial issue is important, but it doesn’t explain the absolute crazy graft and screw the poor attitude in domestic policy.

    Nelson Rockefeller was many things, but he never wed himself to intrusive evangelicals. Goldwater didn’t like them either. Reagan never fully embraced them, but he did bring them into the tent. It’s a segment of the GOP coalition that GWB has been especially adept at courting.

    When you do finally talk about national health insurance and why we need it (Mary’s wrong; the subject is not deathly boring) you should talk to the Jonathan Chait of TNR who’s writing a book on the subject for your mainstream source. For a blogger, I highly recommend Matthew Holt of the Health Care Blog. He recently wrote a great column for Chris Nolan’s new blog spot-on which attempted to introduce health policy and the politics of it to the techies of Silicon Valley. Very funny guy, he even has some podcasts.

    the Spot On Column

  • Nikos

    This thread began with elphaba and Potter exchanging thoughts like these concerning the current American political system:

    “Another huge reason for (the right’s) effective hold on power is a weak opposition. Democrats need to take back morality. If the Republicans want to talk Christianity, then do so. … As Jim Wallis says: ‘Since when did Jesus become pro war, pro rich, against the environment, and Republican?’ They need a positive forward-looking agenda that has a plan to address issues we are facing. Real leadership is missing in the Democrats.�

    And Potter’s reply: “And it’s true—where are the Democrats? Goodness knows they have plenty of material to work with!

    Is this a self-limiting disease or are we truly witnessing the destruction of our experiment?�

    Which got me to thinkin’:

    I was lucky in my youth to spend time in Europe. And I can tell you that to your average European in your average European multi-party parliamentary democracy, the American two-party system doesn’t look democratic in the least. How so, you ask? Well, to people who live with multi-party palate of legitimate electoral choices, our system looks like a one-party state offering the ILLUSION of choice. A corporate-oligarchic Soviet Union masquerading as a democracy, and much more effectively that the USSR ever could because the fights between the two parties seem so vicious and therefore so real.

    But are they? Or is the viciousness really only a byproduct of hotly contested one-on-one elections? (Keep in mind that in many multiparty states you vote for the party, not for individual representatives.)

    Or, is that the Republican right really have an ideological axe to grind, while the Dems are only interested in surviving the next Rove-ordered strafing run by the Limbaughs and O’Reillys of the rightwing attack machine?

    I’ve got answers to those questions, but not answers I’m utterly confident in. But I am sure of this: We The People haven’t any real champions right now. And we won’t without fundamental constitutional change: creating a genuine multi-party palate wherein the left, right, and center all have distinct parties articulating their particular segment of the political spectrum.

    Imagine, please, what a Christian Democratic Party would do for the center of American political thinking—a party wherein the planks and platform were drafted, instead of by the fundamentalist lunatic fringe, by PROGRESSIVE Christians! (Even I, an agnostic, would be a sympathizer to such a party, although I’d surely prefer a ‘Democratic Socialist’ option.)

    Imagine, please, a Green Party that could actually WIN SEATS in an American national legislature. And could then partake in a coalition government! Do you think we’d have to endure any more farces like the ‘Clean Skies Initiative’?

    And imagine, PLEASE, the Republican coalition broken into its real constituencies: The Moral Majority (sic) Party, The National Rifle And Machine Gun Party, The Bring Back The Confederacy And Get These Coloreds Out Of Our Neighborhoods Party, and The Corporate Oligarchy Party (whose slogan would surely be “Just let us make all the decisions and we’ll you promise Really Good Video Games for Christmas!�).

    I’ve probably left out some segments of the spectrum, but surely you get my drift.

    And please remember that some of the notable drafters of our current constitution expected it to evolve as the nation needed it to. I don’t think those guys — who BANNED CORPORATIONS, btw! — would rest easy if they thought the system they’d crafted would never, ever evolve, and would only and ever serve the interests of one percent of the population!

    It’s time to push for change: a new system wherein the legislators answer to the People instead of to the heirs to the 18th Century’s mercantile barons.

    Doncha’ think?

  • David Weinstein

    Yes, Nikos, I do think so. But I think the real disturbing issue here is how the Bush/Rove political machine does not beleive in popular government, government by the People, for the People, and of the very same People. Below I am pasting a very (too long?) suggestion for three radioopensource shows of how Bush et al stole the 2004 election in a very technological and organized manner besides the Jim Crowe stuff they have ressurected and brought to a new level of infamy.

    Dear Chris and staff,

    First let me express how much I have enjoyed your show since I started listen in a few months ago here on the west coast. I find every show pertinent and intelligently executed.

    I have been thinking about responding to your invitation to suggest a topic for some time, this one being election fraud in 2004, which from what I can ascertain from here was highly organized and wide spread. The Jim Crow style disenfranchisement that spread from African Americans and minorities to the general public was reported on by the mainstream media but soon forgotten. The credible case for even greater election fraud by highly partisan republican owned and controlled vendors or voting machines and systems has really only been discussed and reported on the web.

    So when your guest Jacob Hacker advanced his and Paul Pierson’s case of their book, The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy, it rang the bell for me. The same thinking, mentality if you will, of the extreme wing of the republican party and that well oiled machine that put and keeps George Bush in office, that has demonstrated a brazen ruthlessness in legislative proceedings, has also demonstrated, to my lights, the same ruthlessness in the electoral system.

    I do not think that Barry Goldwater or Ronald Reagan would have resorted to election fraud to advance their radical republican ideas. The nature of their conservatism was also fundamentally patriotic, it seems to me, in the sense of American democracy, and the tenants of that first revolution with its checks and balances within popular government. But I believe with NYU Mark Crispin Miller, that in gamin the electoral system in 2004, this extremist brand of the republican party overturned the very ideals that founded this country.

    I will leave perhaps to a future show of yours, and the historians, political and social scientists you might invite, to examine, in my opinion, poisonous exceptionally, the cynicism, and brutal sense of entitlement that would lead to the potential destruction of this beautiful experiment in democratic government.

    But first the Bush/Rove political machine has been able to cower the mainstream media by making it afraid to be labeled fringe elements, “the buzz of cyberspace.” And, of course, there is the censorial effect of the media consolidation under a few integrated mega corporations (thank God for NPR). And yet there is a growing body of investigation and evidence pointing to the fact that something went horribly wrong in the 2004 presidential election. The first is the groundbreaking and courageous work of blackboxvoting.com who were on to the potential dangers of dangers of ‘black box,’ or voting machines that have no paper or other trail (I like to call it ‘faith based voting”) and the connection to politically partisan vendor corporations. I think Jim March of black box is the Paul Revere of our age. Jim is a registered republican outraged by the affront to our rights that this kind of electronic/cyber age election rigging represents. They have discovered how the Bush/Rove machine and the partisan vendors were able to program the voting machines themselves to switch, fabricate or delete votes, and how the GEMS central tabulators could easily be hacked by outside phone lines to rig final election results. Even the department of Homeland Security notified Diebold that their voting machine system was a security risk because it could be hacked. Diebold never did anything about it while its CEO famously said he’d do anything in his power to get George the junior re-elected at a campaign fund raiser. Jim March even has some of the code that was used to hide this election rigging from the prying eyes of election officials.

    Next is the 767 page book by Bob Fitrakis, Steve Rosenfeld, and Harvey Wasserman, Did George W. Bush Steal America’s 2004 Election? I believe they are all from Ohio where the 2004 election turned and were republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, and Ohio co-chair for the Bush/Cheney campaign, did his dark best to give the election his boys. Similar election fraud happened in New Mexico and Florida where, again, the paperless touchscreen voting machines were controlled by republican partisan corporations of Diebold, Triad, ES&S, Triad and Sequoia.

    Then there is republican John Conyors report, What went wrong in Ohio, that the republican controlled Congress basically suppressed.

    Also active and important on the scene is the Open Voting Consortium lead by Alan Dechert whose mission is to ensure transparent voting systems for all elections.

    Finally there is mark Miller’s fine book that sheds new light and brings forth fresh evidence on what should be a scandal. For example, 3.4 million citizens reported to the national census bureau that they voted than were tallied in the last election. I find this book most disturbing because it puts this rigged election in perspective. This is above and beyond those citizens who unfairly couldn’t register, couldn’t vote because of to few precinct voting machines, were illegally purged from the rolls, or by tampering of absentee ballots. This figure is from the United States government. Professor Miler is an independent who holds the democratic party in some disdain. His point is that the Bush regime is not conservative. They’re profoundly un-American. They do not believe in the vote.

    All this being said (and there is so much more to be said), I would like to alert you to a pending decision by acting California secretary of state McPherson whether to approve the infamous blackbox touchscreen voting machines for the 2006 elections by January. I think this would be a timely way into this tragic story for American democracy and citizen rights. Governor Schwartenegger seems to be running scared and more and more under the influence by the far right, and McPherson seems to only be going through the motions of investigating the danger of the Diebold/blackbox threat and taking citizen advisement on the matter. Happily there is a coalition in California opposing Diebold, the California election Protection Network, trying to persuade McPherson to not approve the blackbox machines. You might invite Jim March who has been active in fighting election fraud in California, a spokesman for Diebold, secretary McPherson, and perhaps Mr. Fitrakis or one of his co-authors to debate the pros and cons of whether to approve Diebold voting machines and systems in California. Alan Dechert would be ideal here. And why not invite governor Schwartzenegger to get his point of view.

    I think this would be a lively debate to say the least. This would naturally lead, it seems to me, to a desire for a general discussion on the part of your listeners about if and how Bush/Rove/Diebold et al stole the 2004 election and what it means America. I think professor Miller would be ideal in this debate with Mark Hertsgaard of Mother Jones on the other side. Jim March and the other folks at blackbox should be invited. John Conyors should be asked to participate. Howard Deane recently responded to a caller on an open DNC web call that he believed what is being reported on the web abut election fraud in 2004 is substantially true. You should ask him to join in on the conversation. And why not ask his opponent at the head of the RNC? Barbara Boxer is another possibility with some republican luminary in opposition.

    I think there is a third and final show on this burning issue about what the man and women in the street are doing about ht every possible stealing of their fundamental right of one person one vote in the nation. The Open voting Consortium is one such effort. Recently I received an e-mail about an ongoing law suit in new Mexico, Patricia Rojas et al, against the state and state officials to ensure that their votes are fairly counted in the next election (I will forward the e-mail). The contention is that Hispanic votes were grossly undertallied in the 2004 election. Perhaps you can find some other examples of citizens rising up to protect their right to free and fair elections, and to protect democracy itself in this great nation of ours.

    As professor Miller put it, our founding parents knew that it is civic virtue and vigilance for our basic rights that is the final bulwark against tyranny.

    Thank you so much for reading and considering this rather long e-mail. But I can think of no more relevant issue and no more apt place for this issue to be examined than on radio open source.

    Please let me know if you decide to air any shows on the suggestions advanced here, and if I can be of any further assistance to you.

  • Potter

    Nikos thank you. You are absolutely right. (I am commenting before I read Weinstein’s above.) I have to say that with my nose in Israeli politics I often feel jealous of what seems like a much more democratic system than ours is. And often I have been thinking that we are coming to be very much like the Soviets, or the Russians, corruption and all.

    I do think we need a revolution but things will have to get much worse before they can get better along those lines.

  • Potter

    Yo Dave Weinstein!

    I have been suggesting a show about what you have elaborated on above in my own more feeble way: first in the November suggestions and now in the December suggestions, with links. It’s great to have company on this issue. I will link your post above for you if you have not done so already in that thread. Please followmy links on this post

  • David Weinstein

    Dear Potter,

    It’s great to have a kindred soul in the trenches! I will look for your posts.

    There are many e-mails from folks I have received in the last several months about how the Bush/Rove/republican party has a stranglehold on American electoral democracy. I do not know the protcal of this site so I do not want to paste some of them here until I know. Let me suggest that you vist the Free Press web site by Bob Fitrakis and harvey Wasserman. Look for a post there on or around 11/15, “Has American democracy died an electronic death in Ohio’s referenda defeats” about how this same election rigging made the 2004 election look like childs play in the public’s effort to ensure free and fair elections. that is why we are so adament about keeping those machines and systems out of California. One you et them in you can’t get them out. Also on 12/14 there should be a post about how tests in Florida have proven that memory cards in Diebold’s black box voting machines can be coded to give whatever results the criminels want. Also look for another post there about how the governement accounting office, yes the venerable old, GOA, warned that the touchscreen machines and systems of Diebold and other private vendors are ripe for foul play. Another website to check out is the government of the USA in Exile, which I suppose needs no explanation. You can google it for the exact address if need be. And of course there are the heroic American patriots at blackboxvoting.com.

    All this falls into the category of, “I might be dumb but I ain’t stupid.” It’s a tragic wonder why the so called free press in America and the left doesn’t pick up on it. But I guess that’s what some folks were pondering during the Weimer republic and the rise of fascism in Germany and Europe.

    Do we always have to learn the hard way?

    Be well and God Bless,

    David

  • Gizmo Logix

    allison, spot on post.

    History has shown that all traditionalist or conservatives have been forced to go screaming and kicking into each new era.

    That’s why they call them conservatives. They hate change. One reason is part of their attraction to their own culture. Another is part of where they live (in a bubble?).

    How many times have we heard our grandparents say something like, “Computer!” I don’t use those newfangled contraptions! No sir! I’ll stick to my transistor radio, thank you very much!”

    Ignorance breads fear. And fear can be a usual political tool. As we’ve seen in this administration (rush to war for reasons other that were given).

    A “Gay Marriage in Hawaii!” NEWS ALEART on FOX NEWS is much “scarier” than actually meeting the couple themselves. As long as images and perceptions are kept at a distance it’s much easier to demonize and use fear-mongering tactics.

  • Gizmo Logix

    >>>Allison wrote: If I were to look for the positive in this, I’d say that people are looking for what connects us all as a tribe and they want it to be more than the lowest common denominator. They don’t want the defining character of being an American to be about Disney movies and Abercrombie and Fitch. Its one thing to have the ideal of a melting pot society, its another to live it. Especially if you feel that the moral compass you thought your society was using has melted away. If you have been in the demographic majority and you feel that everything that defines you has to be given up to accomodate newcomers, you’re likely to hunker down. You worry that you won’t feel morally aligned with the new tribe. That the new tribe won’t deem you a valid member.>>>

    Allison, you touched on a very important issue.

    The part where you mention, “Disney movies and Abercrombie and Fitch” is a corporate lifestyle. A consumer lifestyle. It’s true that it lacks the religious aspect of meaning and higher power. Capitalism can reduce man to just a number.

    What’s funny is that some of the members of this administration, although not all, has this exact type of vision for the world. PURE CAPITALISM! Well, there’s a problem. The republican’s have signed a deal with the “devil” per se. What I mean is this…

    The republican spin machine has been very careful in not angering the corporate groups by being seen as anti-capitalistic. This whole “War in Christmas” is worded in a way that makes the Christians seem the victims. For example, FOX can’t come out and say, “The Corporation has monetary and profit motives above all else!” NO, FOX can’t say that because that would seem anti-capitalistic, Again, the right-wing can’t afford to loose big businesses votes because all they would be left with would be the fundamental christians (cultural votes). That’s not enough. THEY NEED THE BIG CONGLOMERATES.

    So, the republican party is toeing the line. What is funny is that they are actually creating the exact consumerism that fuels the change. This is the same force they fear is marginalizing the fundamental view point. The corporation will always cater to the lowest common denominator, i.e. make the most profits possible. They way the big business see it is that selling to *EVERYONE* is better than just selling to *just the Christians.” The republicans find themselves in a catch-22.

    Think about it. If the corporations were some how forced by republican law to cater to just one special interest group. Sooner or later they would vote those in power, out!

    This is why the phrase “Happy Holidays” was created. It is supposed to be inclusive to everyone; Jews, Buddhist, Agnostics, Muslims, etc…Not just Christians. The Christians are jealous. They want to go back to that dangling universe of the 50’s where womanizing, racism, and whites were in power. The classical traditionalist like Bill Oreilly hate accommodating new people/cultures into this country because they have deluded themselves that it belongs to them, and them alone.

    Sorry Bill! It’s about Life, Liberty & The Pursuit of Happiness for ALL! Not just one group!

    You might not be able to tell. But I’m not anti-capitalistic. But I am FOR RESTRAINTS on capitalism (environmental and civil rights related)!

    One of the problems that the christians (as well as other fundamental religious groups) have is that they have created a monster that they will not be able to control. So, the christians will suffer because they befriended the very entity that contradicts their view points. This is why the socialistic Christians of the UK voted for social reform back in 1945 after the war. This was a counter to the days of the Guided Age — Which we are entering into again today.

    But the moment the Christians open their mouths and say, “Capitalism must be restrained” they will be labeled Socialists, even the dreaded communist! Egads!

    Ha ha! That will be the day that Bill Oreilly will be called a communist! He’d run and hide! Who knows? Many someday his greed will get to his conscience…

  • Potter

    Gizmo Logix- very good posts. I totally agree that in general things are moving in a more liberalzing direction. Conservatives reap the reaction, the alarm, politically and slow it down or stop this movement for awhile anyway. It’s interesting that Bush rides under the banner of freedom and democracy while working to undermine it.

  • Potter

    The Patriot Act helping to save our democracy from terrorists :

    Agents’ visit chills UMass Dartmouth senior

  • elphaba

    I just read an interesting book about negative campaigning. ( I can’t find it right now.) It was written before George W Bush. The book was full of well done studies on campaign tactics. They found that most people identified with one party or another. Positive adds confirmed what they felt and negative adds had no effect. Democrats responded better to positive adds. Republicans responded better to negative adds. Independents responded in two ways to negative adds. They were either effective or the voter chose to not vote at all.

    The Democrats had the most difficult job because negative adds tend to turn off their voters, but it is very clear that a candidate must respond back to negative adds or they will be penalized as being cowardly. Republicans resonded best to negative adds, so they didn’t have to worry about turning off their constituents.

    There was a lot of talk about the independent voter last election. I think these studies would have been very relevent in strategizing for both parties.

    I am personally hoping that John McCain will make another run for the Presidency. I would vote for him. It seems to me that being moderate has become a very radical position indeed.

  • Wow, two votes for President!? Thank you Nikos and Nother for such grand kudos. We must be in desperate times…

    I don’t know if anyone is still following this thread, but I find it a nice mix of looking at an ideal while trying to find ways to take action in the current reality.Tyring to define a cultural ethos that includes more than the might dollar, while trying to uproot the invasive weeds in our tribal garden.

    Nikos – I’m sorry to hear that you are skeptical of fundamentalists. I know many people with very strong ‘fundamentalist’ beliefs. Usually, we can find some ground upon which can agree that those in less fortunate circumstances need to be aided by those more fortunate. And usually we can agree to make room for people of different religious views. I find it s possible to appeal to some of the higher sensibilities of their spirituality and get them to let go of their evangelism. Or to at least separate their call to evangelize at a personal level while tolerating at a societal level. I get there by not expecting them to change their beliefs while not allowing them to assume that their beliefs can claim dominion over the hearts and souls of others. I maintain a fair amount of cautiousness in my expectations of others while maintaining a hope that I can work with even those whose perspectives are as far from mine as possible.

    As for the question of the intellectually honest atheist, you’re getting at a fundamental question about the nature of humanity. It seems that no matter how much we’ve been misled by people supposedly guided by their God, we still want someone who believes in a higher power. Atheism is uninspiring. Its as though we can’t see the purpose doing anything that isn’t immediately self-serving without the concept of a higher power. Or perhaps its more about the concept of an eternal existence. If we are currently living in one incarnation of our souls, we might have to face the very long-term ramifications of our actions and so, we are motivated to be a bit more careful. But if this is it. 80 or so years and we’re done, why care about others or what comes after us?

    nother, you say: “To me the irony is that those of us who are in this pre-existing tribe and who are grasping onto to old identities, are living just fine in the multi-cultural reality outside our door. We work with and interact with other cultures all day, but then we go home and watch TV and listen to talk radio spew fear and before you know it, our rhetoric is out of tune with our reality.”

    I think this irony varies from person to person and geographically. There are plenty of people out there who harbor in their daily hearts fear and hatred of those considered ‘others’. Racism is alive and well. Misogyny is alive and well. I’ve heard caucasion men complain about their jobs being taken by minorities. I watch the CVS manager eye the black shopper more suspiciously than the white one. But it is true that these issues are usually resolved on the personal level. You can’t legislate love and eradicate fear with tax breaks. But leaders can impact the cultural ethos and legislate some things to address damaging behaviors. Once a culture is permeated from the top down with principles of tolerance it becomes more possible for neighbors to help each other transform their fears and hatreds.

    Potter, you ask what we can do and observe: “In very weak opposition we have a relatively disorganized but inclusive multi-ethnic group of liberals of varying degrees, yes with some elites and intellectuals, but probably mostly working class and/ but no articulated unifying ideology”

    So, let’s define and articulate an ideology and devise an action plan to create the country we want to live in. Its that or keep complaining about things.

    A leadership model that I find inspiring is that of Robert Greenleaf coined ‘servant leadership’ (see more here: http://www.greenleaf.org/leadership/servant-leadership/What-is-Servant-Leadership.html). My favorite part of the definition is the test for successful leadership:

    “The best test, and difficult to administer , is: do those served grow as persons; do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society; will they benefit, or, at least, will they not be further deprived?â€?”

    We could combine that model with the truth force style of Mohatma Gandhi. Speaking truth to power. This means a devotion to pursuit of the truth. Something sorely lacking in in the current state of US affairs. (I wholeheartedly support David Weinstein’s suggested investigation into voter fraud and disenfranchisement.)

    But all the rhetoric in the world doesn’t create change if it isn’t accompanied by action. I’ve been appalled by the lack of street protests to the plethora of scandalous happenings since the 2000 elections. I have to admit, that I haven’t known where I can put my energies effectively. Maybe a relentless series of town hall meetings to talk to people personally about building a vision for our future and creating action plans to get there.

    Suggestions?

  • elphaba

    It seems to me that both parties have gotten polarized. What ever happened to moderates? I listened to Arnold S. Gov. of CA’s state of the state address last week. I didn’t vote for him, and I don’t agree with him on everything, but I think he has some damn good ideas. It seemed to me that both the Dems. and Reps. were upset. I think both of these parties have gotten into a tug of war match with “winning” being the only goal.

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