America’s Next Un-Civil War

America’s Next Un-Civil War

America’s Next Un-Civil War If any possible good can come from the furious partisanship and naked rage of the Kavanaugh hearings, it’s the opportunity for all Americans to take a hard look at the ugly reality gripping our government and society. It’s a reality we like to pretend doesn’t exist. When we affirm, in the pledge to the flag, “…one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” we are not acknowledging the truth about America. That “America” has never existed. At best, the pledge is aspirational, expressing the hope of what we might, in time, become –if we can somehow find a way to reconcile the deep divisions that have worked from our very beginnings as a nation to pull us violently apart. Consider the dilemmas the Founding Fathers attempted to balance creatively and purposefully in the Constitution: How should the balance of government power be vested: between the Federal Government or the separate states? How should the significant differences among the states in population (big states vs. small states) and economy (industrial vs. agricultural) be balanced so as to create a fair, functioning democracy? Underpinning these functional challenges were essential moral, economic, and political questions: Did the unalienable rights and promise of citizenship, so eloquently expressed in the Declaration of Independence, apply equally to all Americans, regardless of race, gender, national origin, economic and social status, or were the full benefits of citizenship reserved primarily for wealthy white males? Should the wealth of America be managed to benefit the owners of capital or the workers who produced that wealth? Should America be a Republic, ruled...
Helping Trump Supporters Return to Sanity –  Post #1

Helping Trump Supporters Return to Sanity – Post #1

NOTE TO READERS: If you like this post, please share it as widely as possible. This is the first in what will be a series of posts on how to have productive conversations with Trump supporters. We know Trump is a malevolently pathological liar who deliberately distorts truth to “sell” his frighteningly negative view of people and the world. The deeper, even more dangerous impact of his incessant lying is that over time truth gets overwhelmed until it finally disappears. We know that. Trump’s supporters don’t get it. They live in the crazy, propaganda-driven world of his lies.  For example, regarding immigration. Trump world: Our borders are getting overrun by tens of thousands of “those people:” rapists, criminals, and drug dealers, who come into this country and take jobs from hard-working Americans or go immediately on welfare that we have to pay. All those crying children are just left wing liberal Democratic propaganda. Democrats want to turn America into a refugee camp/homeless shelter so they can enroll these people as voters and disenfranchise “Real Americans.” Independently-verified reality: Current rates of illegal immigration remain extremely low by historic standards. Immigrants legally admitted go through an extensive vetting process. Legal and undocumented immigrants are significantly less likely to commit crimes than native-born citizens, making them a net benefit to public safety. The research shows that immigrants are not taking jobs away from U.S. natives, and their impact on wages appears to be small to nonexistent, particularly across the long term. Problem #1: Trump’s supporters believe his lies.  They really do. Problem #2: Attacking Trump personally causes his supporters to dig in...
America Has Lost Its Mind … How Can We Get It Back?

America Has Lost Its Mind … How Can We Get It Back?

Our country is on fire. We have become a viciously crippled, polarized society.  These days, an increasing majority of Americans passionately ally themselves with one or the other of two competing ideological extremes, then accuse the other side of every imaginable economic, intellectual, social, spiritual, and moral flaw. Now the people who disagree with us aren’t just “wrong,” they’re grossly stupid and evilly sinful. I’m old enough to remember when  people of good will who disagreed with each other on matters of policy and action could respect their differences but still work through them to reach consensus on what all parties could commit to support. These were consensual agreements based on fact — what’s actually happening — and anchored in a common ground of shared beliefs.  We have lost that good will. In fairness, the differences that now tragically and ominously divide us have always existed in the deep fabric of our nation  since the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1789: finding the delicate balance between the liberty granted individuals in a republic and the responsibilities of all people in a democratic society; between the powers relegated to the states (large and small) and to the federal government;  between the proper authority exercised by the three separate branches of government; between the enabling strengths and crippling limitations of both capitalism and socialism; between the promise of unlimited entrepreneurial possibilities and the harsh reality of working for a wage — or in the case of African slaves, no wage at all;  between our prosperity as a nation and our membership in a global economy;   and between the ideal of...
Make America GOOD Again

Make America GOOD Again

Consider how we use the word “good” in our daily lives: “He’s a good man.” “She’s a good friend.” “They’re good kids.”  “They’re good parents.” “I live in a good neighborhood.” “My kids go to a good school.” “I’m in a good place in my life right now.” “I feel good about this.”  “I’m blessed with good health.” My first work out of college was as a teacher and coach. I vividly remember seeing a kid come off the field having played his or her heart out and saying “Good job!!” A lot of us used to be able to say:  “I work for a good company.” “I work for a good boss.”  “I’m making a good salary.” (A whole lot fewer of us are able to say that now). We know, deep down, what the word “good” means in real, living ways. So here’s the first question: “Is President Trump a good human being?”  When I ask this question of my Republican friends, often I get a “Whatabout…” non-answer.  “Well, what about Bill Clinton?  Or Hillary?” That’s ducking the question. If you say the question doesn’t matter, as many of Trump’s supporters do, then you’re saying that “goodness” no longer matters as a value — not just for presidents and elected representatives, but as an essential human value. I’m not suggesting that the people we elect to public office should be saints. Few of us rise to that standard in our own lives. But if we don’t hold our leadership to some level of fundamental integrity and decency, our society and our country falls apart. One measure of...
How to REALLY Put Coal Miners Back to Work, Mr. President

How to REALLY Put Coal Miners Back to Work, Mr. President

Instead of the deluge of unfulfilled and unfulfillable Trumpian boasts about jobs creation “I’ll be greatest jobs president that God ever created” (so far his record on NEW jobs created is about the same as Obama’s), here’s how you really create jobs. Upstanders: Planting Hope in a Coalfield These former coal miners are helping rebuild the Appalachian region from the ground up. Posted by Upworthy on Friday, November 3, 2017 To my Republican friends:  this is REAL news from REAL people. At least look at the video – and then compare it with Trump’s grandstanding to his base “Trump Digs...