Forget the Silent Majority Worry about the Soft-Spoken One

U.S. President Richard Nixon on November 3, 1969, said, “And so tonight—to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans—I ask for your support.” Nixon’s plea to this so-called ‘silent majority’ is similar to Mr. Trump’s pandering to his not-so-silent and decreasing supporters.

Both presidents missed the point.

The majority of Americans are neither silent nor rabid. They are mostly reasoned, rarely pugnacious, and care deeply about their country.  They are neither “my country, right or wrong” zealots nor “America has failed in its responsibilities” apologists.

free speechIf they are guilty of anything, it is an innate sense that America can survive any administration, any do-nothing Congress, or any political crisis. Yet, when faced with such a mess, this soft-spoken majority will rise to the occasion and let their voices be heard at the polls.

They do not focus on party affiliation, Congressional majorities, or rhetoric. What they focus on is ensuring the country steers itself back to the slightly conservative side of centrist policies.

It has been the hallmark of the most successful periods in American history.

Resisting involvement in European internecine wars until it became necessary.

Formulating trade and foreign policies guided by a modicum of consideration for any adverse effect on the rest of the world.

Implementing meaningful government programs to sustain and support people in need while assuring an equal opportunity to rise out of poverty through access to education and hard work.

Some would argue we have stepped away from that America.  I would agree. Post-World War II America went through growing pains as a world power, stumbling in places, i.e., Vietnam, South America, while achieving great things elsewhere.

The changing nature of asymmetric warfare, the growing number of nuclear-armed countries, and globalization has changed the geopolitical world we live in.

And we must change with it.

The fissure of partisan politics has grown over the last several Presidential administrations, hastened by the death of a Congress once guided by the art of compromise.

Through this, the majority of Americans may have lost their focus. But no more. The rising tide of change is evident everywhere. No longer will the majority of Americans sit back and let the screamers and the schemers control the field. No longer will lobbyists pull the strings of the PAC money addicted Congress. No longer will the country suffer a President who embarrasses America on the world stage

The soft-spoken majority will not raise their voices, chant slogans, or poison the public discourse with lies or ‘fake’ anything.  They will take to the ballot box and send a clear and unambiguous message.

“Give us back the America we love.”

In All Fairness

President Trump nominated Judge Neil M. Gorsuch for the Supreme Court. The rancor and rejection by those who oppose Trump now rises to a new level of vitriol. I place myself in the ranks of those who did not vote for Trump. I find his initial actions in office to be counter-productive at best and terrifying at worst. I have great apprehension for the near future of this country.

But, with that said, let us not forget the process of government given to us by the founding fathers. One created to weather such storms.

Let us not forget the constitutional concepts upon which these nominations proceed to Congress. They are to “advise and consent.”

When President Obama (oh where, oh where have you gone?) nominated Judge Merrick Garland, the Republicans acted like fools. Spouting all sorts of nonsense about election year nominations being improper.

No doubt someone will point out that more people voted against Trump than voted for him. They’ll suggest this as a reason he should not nominate anyone.

Nonsense. As much nonsense as blocking election year nominations.

Republicans refused to give Garland a hearing. They subverted the constitution. They knew the hearing to “advise and consent” is not about the nominee’s positions, but about their qualifications. Garland was as qualified as Gorsuch appears to be, philosophical differences aside.

These differences are not a basis to reject a nominee.

We cannot scream about violating the spirit of America with a religious test (couched in fear) that bans immigration based on being a Muslim, then seek to block an otherwise apparently qualified nominee for the court because we disagree with his opinions.

Democrats need not follow the Republican circus act. They can follow the rule of law and Senate decorum.

Quotes are like friends, we pick them because we like them. Facts are like blood relatives, often uncomfortably embarrassing. We can quote all we like by cherry-picking decisions by Gorsuch. The fact remains that on the surface he appears qualified for the position. If a Senate hearing discovers otherwise, so be it.

And that is all the constitution requires.

History is replete with justices who turned out to be much less rigid than expected.

If Justice Gorsuch demonstrates his qualifications for the Supreme Court, the Senate should advise and consent. If we demand the Republicans follow the law, and criticize them when they don’t, we must ourselves take the high road.

To do otherwise is to cast aside 200 plus years of our way of conducting the people’s business. There are those in Congress who do not care, those of us with some rationality left should.

The alternative is inertia in government.

Neither a Democrat nor a Republican Be…

Not all that long ago, there was a time in this country when people defined themselves, politically at least, as either Republican or Democrat.

Voters took pride in entering a voting booth and pulling the master handle to vote for a candidate not for their positions on issues, not for their record of achievement, not for their ideas or proposals, but for their party affiliation.

Party affiliation.

Sounds eerily similar to the politics of the Soviet Union or Mao’s China instead of the promise of the Constitution and the brilliance of the Founding Fathers.

Which brings us to the politics of 2016. While in many places the master lever is a fading memory, the propaganda (there is that similarity again) of the parties is the same.

Depending on your political leanings, either the Republicans, representing a conservative approach, or the Democrats, representing a progressive approach, are the ONLY choice.

There is NO room for compromise, no room for a blending of ideas, no chance that anything proposed by one party will gain support by the other.

I have a friend who had an opportunity to have a private discussion, in a setting far removed from the media or public eye, with a former Speaker of the House. My friend lamented the lack of cooperation across the aisle and the seemingly endless process of erecting roadblocks to cooperation.

The Congressman assured her it was not as bad as it seems. This is good news, at first blush.

But upon reflection, it is one more indication of the dishonesty, disingenuousness, and outright lying that goes on for the sake of getting elected and, more importantly, staying there.

Either the politicians think so little of voters’ ability to recognize the necessity of cooperation and compromise in Congress and play to that ignorance or they have come to understand if you give the voter what they want to hear, they vote for you.

Then, you do what you want.

All parties have their heroes, their bright shining beacons that represent the best the party has to offer.

The Republicans had Reagan. Held up as the standard-bearer of less government. His famous quote during his first inaugural address, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem” touted as the best example of wise policy.

Reagan then went on to lead the biggest increase in government spending in decades. His Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), which ultimately failed, led to enormous increases in technology research. This policy almost single-handedly built Silicon Valley and the technology corridor outside of Boston, Ma.

Reagan expressed his despise of big government. His legend used as the example of getting government out of the way. The reality is his SDI program, a holy crusade against the evil empire of the Soviet Union, was a huge government funded program.

Moreover, it worked. Contrary to all his vaunted statements, government programs worked.

Do I even have to mention Richard Nixon?

We ignore the truth for the sake of a slogan or false premise.

The Democrats have had similar icons. John F. Kennedy, whose short time in office created such hope and promise, also set the stage for our entering into the war in Vietnam. His promise of “we shall go to the moon…” stimulated a generation of optimism that we could do anything we choose to do.

President Clinton, his presidency marked with much success, supported and signed the ridiculous Defense of Marriage Act. His boldface lying to the American people corroded the many good things he accomplished.

Yet each of these Presidents, none of them perfect, succeeded by compromise. They sought cooperation to blend a solution.

Which leads us to today. The same, perhaps wider, chasm divides this country. Sanders is a socialist. Hillary is a liar. Cruz is a religious nut. Rubio cannot balance a checkbook. Trump is… I am not sure there is a word for it.

Each of these candidates has something to offer. Yet it seems the politics of this era compels us to pick one path, one philosophy, one political policy.

We deserve more.

If the reality of compromise and cooperation does exists away from the cameras and 24/7 media storm, the American people deserve to be trusted with that knowledge.

In our everyday lives, we make choices; we balance the things we want against the things we need. That is being an adult.

Those that scream the most about the evils and dangers of those they disagree with are like schoolyard bullies, trying to shout down and intimidate.

Standing up to a bully is the right thing to do.

A politician who claims to have all the answers, offers nothing but disdain and criticism of opposing views, and insists his (or her) policies are the only choice is not what we need. It is what we have been afflicted with for the past few years and it is time to seek a better solution.

ISIS, Immigration, and the Law

In a February 25, 2015 column by Ann Coulter (www.anncoulter.com/columns/2015-02-25.html), Ms. Coulter complains about the narrow-minded focus of the country on certain issues.

Now, I do not often agree with Coulter. However, her columns are always well researched, supported by sound argument, and well written.  In this piece, she makes some valid points, and misses some others.

Coulter writes that Congress and the media fixate on ISIS and the crisis in Syria, yet ignore a much more serious domestic problem, illegal immigration. Or, more to the point, crimes committed by illegal aliens.

History is replete with Governments using Foreign affairs, war being a favorite tool, to divert attention from more pressing, and difficult to solve, domestic issues.

Coulter recites a number of incidents involving illegal immigrants committing violent crimes, ranging from assault and robbery to rape and murder.  She details how many of these illegals have extensive criminal records.

The complicity of the media in underreporting crimes by illegal aliens smacks of political correctness run amuck.  In many ways, this is more troubling.

She derides Congress, in particular the new Republican majority, for “gassing on about what’s happening 7000 miles away.”  She points out that ISIS has killed four Americans, while illegal immigrants have committed thousands of violent crimes killing many American citizens.

As she says, “if you don’t want to be killed by ISIS, don’t go to Syria.”

Where I diverge with Coulter, and the whole deport every illegal immigrant philosophy, is that while the law is clear, the Justice of its application is not.

First, the easy part, if you are in this country illegally and commit a violent crime you go to jail, and then you get deported. This is the ultimate no brainer.

Why not just deport them, you might ask?

Despite rumors to the contrary, prison is not enjoyable.  Giving them a free ride home is like pardoning the crime.  Let them do the time, all the time, no parole eligibility by virtue of their illegal status, then back to their country. While I am willing to extend access to our system of Justice to everyone, regardless of his or her immigration status, it is only to a point

Here is where it gets complicated and blanket deportation will not work.  Most illegal immigrants obey the law. Hold on there you might say, they came here illegally, and they already broke the law.  True, but many came here out of desperation.  Many left countries plagued by violence from their own government, starvation, horrendous conditions; they came here for the sake of themselves and their families.

Then, many of them had children who were born here yet, by virtue of the law, are illegal.

Justice in this country is famously blind.  However, the true strength of this country is its Justice tempered by Mercy.

There need be a path so those that are here, following our laws and contributing to the cultural mix, can remain here.  The words on the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free,” are meaningless unless we find a way.

We should demand of our Congress and President, cooperation in finding a solution to illegal immigration.  One that fully protects our citizens from violence yet tempers Justice with mercy for those who have heard the message of the Statute of Liberty and believed in it.

If a time arises that ISIS poses a direct threat to this country, I have the utmost confidence in our ability to respond effectively.  No military in the world can provide the maximum opportunity for each member of ISIS to enjoy martyrdom like the US military.

In the past, playing the world’s police officer brought us only a few things, a host of dead American service personnel and the rending of our society at home. We cannot ignore the rest of the world, but more importantly, they cannot ignore us.  By strengthening our own society, we influence the world for the better.

This country will never truly be in trouble, until people stop trying to come here.

Random thoughts and Oversells

Airline oversells

Every airline in the world routinely oversells their flights. For those of you that have never heard of the concept, airlines sell 140 seats for a plane that holds 137.

Why you may ask?

Because people often don’t show up for flights and the airlines want to fill all the seats.

Hmmm.

Can you imagine this in other businesses……

Can I take your order sir?

Yes I’ll have three cheeseburgers to go

That will be 9 dollars

Here you go

Thank you, your order will be right up

Here you go, sir

But there’s only two?

I know, but we sold more hamburgers than we have available, I will be happy to give you a voucher for a future hamburger plus some additional money for the inconvenience.

But I am hungry now!

Well, you’ll be even hungrier then sir, thank you for your order.

****************

Hi, I am enrolled in your college but I haven’t received my course list.

Ah, well we enrolled more people than we have room for but I’ll be happy to give you a spot in our next class.

But I want to be educated now

I realize that, but since people often don’t show up for class we have to do this.

Sorry, see you next class.

***********

Hi, I am here to pick up my new car

Ah, sorry sir we sold more cars than we have available. I will be happy to put you on the top of the list for the next available car

But I need the car now.

I apologize sir, but we have no more available at the moment, we will be happy to get you the next available one.

Will that be today?

I doubt it sir

********************

I have the feeling this has never happened to a member of Congress.