Sunday, October 5, 2014

#182 October 5, 2014- American "Democracy"

Voting Information…
Make sure that you are prepared for the upcoming election!!

This election year Wisconsin voters have to deal with several new voting restrictions passed by the Republican-controlled legislature and signed by Gov. Scott Walker (R).

America- Love It or
Own It. . .
Americans don't like to examine their politics or history.  We prefer to believe that we live in a democracy, and that our nation is built on the ideals of equality and justice for all.  We want to continue to pretend that our nation's history is filled with great people, doing great things, and that we should be revered by the rest of the world.  Those political and historical "facts" are enough for most people, and they are not terribly interested in learning or hearing about any other possibilities.  In fact, many of us are willing to ignore ideas that contradict our dogmatic beliefs, and will even go to great lengths to destroy alternative viewpoints.  

The conservative majority in the JeffCo School Board has passed its controversial US History Censorship proposal.

When we avoid unpleasant information and suppress opposing viewpoints, we veer off the path of equality and justice and end up charting a course away from democracy.  This isn't anything new to our modern version of American democracy.  In fact, the constant tension between social justice, and the existing political, social and economic systems that we have in place have been a source of conflict throughout our history.  We can't ignore the realities of our history and gloss over the injustices that have existed if we are ever going to move forward towards a truly equitable and just society. 

When asked, most of us would agree that we want to live in a nation where equality and opportunity for all are the norm.  We want a place where we, and those close to us, can live in safety and enjoy a standard of living that allows us to be comfortable and happy.  We also want our neighbors and fellow citizens to enjoy these same opportunities.  However, it is only natural that we put our own needs first.  This is where government, laws and a social order come into play.  In a democratic society we need to have rules that advance the good of the many so that no individual or small group is able to dominate and control our social, political and economic systems. 

Yet, in 2014 we are experiencing a trend that is stratifying our society in ways that are troubling and destructive towards our national ideology.  We are seeing small groups of people control a great amount of our nation's wealth, and they are using that wealth to impose their will on our entire society. 

Together, Charles and David Koch control one of the world's largest fortunes, which they are using to buy up our political system.

This raises several questions.  Is it possible to be self-interested and still be a patriotic citizen?  Is our national ideology of freedom and opportunity being used against the majority of us?  What really is our national identity and historical legacy?  Is it one of freedom and opportunity, or have we always been "ruled" by an elite class?  Do capitalism, democracy and equality blend well together?  The answers to these questions are significant as we move forward into a future that is uncertain and filled with barriers to our achievement of a socially just society.

America asked two prominent members of Congress, both Catholics with famous names, to respond to Pope Francis’ repeated calls to empower the poor.Paul...

The answers to these questions are not fixed and absolute.  They have been debated for centuries and will continue to be topics of debate in the future.  When we look back over our history we see a pendulum swinging between different types of representation.  Groups have been excluded from power, included, and then excluded again.  Regulations have tightened and eased.  Rights have been granted, restricted and then expanded.  All of this inconsistency has been the result of the world we live in, major events and individual leadership.  Yet, through it all there are some common threads that bind the fabric of our history together.  There is the thread of Progressive social activism and democratic ideology.  There is also a thread of oligarchy and the dominance of the elite (Robber Barons, Job Creators, Founding Fathers, etc.)  Where we, as a nation, fall on the political spectrum depends on which group is able to control the most power at any given time.   

The pendulum has definitely swung towards oligarchy in recent years.  We are seeing a small number of individuals and groups exploiting the indifference and apathy that too many citizens are demonstrating.  Because only a small number of citizens are actively participating it is relatively easy to control our "democratic process."  Once power is achieved, those in power will do their best to maintain control and to cement their status in our system.  This is currently being done in several ways.

One of the ways to control a democratic society is to dominate our ability to engage in discourse around controversial issues.  While it is difficult to engage a nation of millions in a substantive debate, the voting process allows each citizen to express their opinion in what should be a meaningful way.  Voting is a right and a privilege that should be available to every citizen if we are truly going to have a representative government.  Yet, we are seeing efforts to restrict voting in almost every state in America.      

Wisconsin's new voter ID law could keep me from voting at age 87
Ruthelle Frank: I’ve been registered to vote since 1948. But once Republicans passed the law, I was asked to prove I’m not an ‘illegal alien’|By Ruthelle Frank
Because of the complex nature of any system that sets guidelines and rules for a nation of millions, our decision making processes are too often accessible only to those with time and/or money to influence them.

If Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) is reelected this November, he may be able to thank a liberal Democratic senator for his victory.

In case there was any remaining confusion with regard to the precise political intentions of the U.S. Supreme Court’s activist majority, things were clarified Monday. The same majority that has made it easier for corporations to buy elections (with the Citizens United v. FEC decision) and for…
Our national discourse about important issues is also shaped by the media.  Too many Americans are currently getting their "news" from outlets like FOX that are really editorializing and not reporting.  This changes our conversations and eliminates dialog and discourse.    

Jon Stewart has a message for Fox News on #LatteSalute: "SHUT UP." The network's talking heads have been attacking President Barack Obama for saluting two U.S Marines with a coffee cup in his hand. But on "The Daily Show" on Th...

We can also see the influence of the elite in our public services.  One of the most vital of these is our public education system.  A democracy can not function without an educated population.  Our current battles around public schools are an outgrowth of the conflict for power in our society.    

The influence of an extreme version of economic idealism can be seen in other places as well.  Market driven public services eventually cease to become public in anything but name only. 

High recidivism rates mean more people behind bars, and Corrections Corporation of America depends on more and more incarceration to make its billions. Since when do they actually want people to do well after they get out,...

Organizing efforts, like those of labor unions, are curtailed in an effort to silence the voices of the majority. 

Yet, the power of the people isn't so easy to ignore or quiet.  Across Wisconsin, and around the country efforts to resist the centralization of power are continuing.  These efforts are vital as we seek to definitively answer those important questions about our national identity.  Standing together we truly can become the nation that all of us were promised.  

American Airlines reservations agents just voted to unionize. It's been a long time coming.

The Good, The Bad and
The Ugly. . .

The Good . . . There are plenty of opportunities to get involved and work to elect a candidate who will be more willing to listen to, and work for Wisconsin.

People volunteered in droves across Wisconsin this weekend to give Scott Walker a pink slip and elect Mary Burke our next Governor. Union members and...

The Bad . . . We have a real problem in our country when it comes to how we shape our children's views about their appearance and in how we stereotype boys and girls. 

I went back to Target today with my daughter after my discussion with them. I wanted to take pictures to document the current state of the clothes in their...

The continuing sexism that exists in our "free and equal society" is reflected in our public discourse as well as the choices in clothing that are offered. 

Dear Mr. Bolling and Mr. Gutfeld, We are veterans of the United States armed forces, and we are writing to inform you that your remarks about United Arab... 

The Ugly . . . This election hinges on voter turnout, and the Conservative base historically dominates mid-term elections. 

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