jimdelrio on the world

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Our Better Selves, Our Country, and this Election

I can only speak for myself, but I'm sure most people are like me (at least in this sense) so I'll use the plurals us and we.

We all have a better self that we could step into and be, but we usually don't. I for one, am pledging here and now, to be try to be that better self every single day. I know, I know, it does sound trite and polyanna-ish. But hear me out.

We can all sit around and whine about the state of the world and the government and whoever gets elected president, or we can step into our better selves...

Imagine this simple scenario:

I pull in into a parking spot in the parking lot in front of the grocery store. I open my truck's door to get out. There are three things on the ground beneath my feet: a glass bottle, an aluminum can, and an empty ice cream cup. I could ignore it and step over it and go into the grocery store, or I could channel my better self and do what we all know deep down is the RIGHT thing to do: pick them up and dispose of them properly (recycling the can and bottle and throwing the ice cream cup into the trash). Not hard, is it?

There's a million scenarios like this that will face us in our lives. It's a matter of being that better self and doing the right thing. It also means being responsible for ourselves. That is not to say that people who need help shouldn't get it. Our better selves should want them to get it.

How does this idea affect my country? Or politics?

Well...It's my sincere hope that Americans will unite and stand together to support WHOEVER the American PEOPLE select as their next president and vice president, be it John McCain and Sarah Palin or Barack Obama and Joe Biden. That's what my father fought 2 tours in Vietnam for as a pilot. Not so we can be divided and hateful, but so we can be positive and supportive of a democratic society where the people elect and SUPPORT their presidents.

My father did two tours in Vietnam and still doesn't talk about it. He was a helicopter pilot and I'm sure he saw a lot and went through a lot there. To paraphrase a part of Rules of Engagement, "The average life expectancy of a Marine second lieutenant dropped into a hot LZ in Vietnam in 1967 was sixteen minutes."

I can only imagine the things he went through and saw.

I can picture mom sitting there in our little house at the time, watching the news. They would show helicopters being shot down. At the time, Mom had no education, no way to support the three snot-nosed kids running around screaming. We (the kids) had no idea of the gravity of the situation and Mom had no way to convey it to us. At that time, there was no internet or satellite telecommunications. It was weeks or months between phone calls. Nothing to do but hope, cry, and pray.

My dad retired after 22 years. He was Lt. Colonel. For those who may not know, that's just about as high as you can go. It's top brass. The next step up from Colonel is General (Brigadier). He had the choice to stay in but decided to retire and go into private business. Me and my family "served" as well. We had to pull up and move about every two years, leaving friends behind. As kids, we suffered the fairly severe abuse, physically and mentally, of a Vietnam veteran who was never treated for his PTSD.

We gave a lot for this country. For freedom. For democracy. For your right to vote. I HOPE that people will stop voting for labels and use their heads. I think labels and and this "die-hard 'party' mentality" are damaging this country more than anything. Once you subscribe to a label, independent thought dies.

If there is an issue where there's a right and a wrong, and two "labels" take each side, then one will be wrong. If you're in a label, you're in a herd. If the herd goes left, you go left. If it goes over a cliff, you go over the cliff. There's no individual, independent thought. I urge people to be more clear of what they mean when they use these labels. Labels include right-wing, left-wing, democrat, republican, socialist, liberal. I will admit the utility of labels, as long as they are used correctly and the meanings are clearly defined. But many labels are used like weapons. They're thrown like rocks. I've heard "unpatriotic," "unAmerican," and so forth. UnAmerican by whose definition? Again, my father and family gave a lot for this country. Don't tell me what an American is.

Many people will subscribe themselves to a label and then just stop thinking. They'll say, for example, I'm a democrat or I'm a republican, so I'll vote this way. Some will vote simply because of race.

Is that what's good for America?

To vote based on labels or race without knowing the issues?

Another thing most people nowadays do wrong, in my opinion, is to not look past their noses. What if the guy you elect dies? The VP is now your president. Have you really looked into the VP nominees? Don't vote for labels. Know the facts, do your homework, and use your God-given independent thought.

It's easy to go the label route. It's too easy. If you can throw a label out there, it means you don't have to come up with anything with any substance.

Have you noticed the negativity in this campaign? It tells me some people may not have anything to stand on of their own, so they throw around labels.... Godwin's law holds that the longer an online discussion goes on, the greater the likelyhood that someone will compare someone else to nazis. The principle is that when you have nothing of substance to say, you spoil your own credibility by throwing out the lowest argument you can (Hitler! Nazi! Fascist! Socialist!). The same holds true with elections; labels like this are thrown around with abandon. But in this election, they're only coming from one side. It makes me wonder if that side has anything positive to bring to the table. Obviously not or they'd tell us.

I really don't want to hear slams and slander, I want you to show me what you've got. Show me how you plan to improve things. Show me what you've done to improve things. Show me what your party has done to improve things. If you (or your party) were in control for the last eight years, show me what you or they have done to make things better. If you can't, then show me why I should elect you. Show me the postives of your positions. I'm not seeing that from one of the parties.

But regardless of who the American people select to lead them for the next four years, we all should find our better selves and support that team. We need to finally stand together as AMERICANS and show the world that we can find our BETTER SELVES and BE our better selves. We can be worthy of the greatness that we all believe America represents. That is why people died for this country. That is why people made huge sacrifices for this country. I'm asking everyone, let's be positive and supportive of a democratic society where the people elect and SUPPORT their presidents.

Of course, this is all dependent on a fair election, and an election that is not stolen by voter suppression or suppression of a fair recount if the need arises.

And this is not to say that you can't form your own opinion about things. You should. This is not to say that you can't question authority. In fact, you should always, always, pay attention and question things that don't add up. Dissent is necessary from time to time to keep things on track, but you must have a valid reason for it. But to just tear someone down? Spew lies and hate and negativity? There's a difference between those concepts. And you know it. In your heart you know it.

Some people have a fear that some countries, (be it Iran, North Korea, Syria, Pakistan, etc) hate us. While I'd argue that a "country" can't hate, I'll concede that some people in those countries as well as some of the heads of state of those countries do hate us. And they love to see us fight amongst ourselves.

Old sayings are old sayings for a reason; because they've stood the test of time. And they've done this because they have a lot of truth in them. There's a saying that says "A house divided cannot stand." These people who hate us know this. They want us to keep reverting to our lesser selves. They want nothing more, because the easiest way to destroy this country is to have us do it ourselves. By slander, by negative attacks, by divisiveness, by in-fighting, by hate, by arrogance, by refusing to be open minded, by wallowing in fear, by refusing to see the hope together, and by refusing to work together for a better day. People will blatantly refuse to cooperate and to make some sacrifices for a better world.

And not the least of all... By not supporting the fairly elected president who is chosen by a democratic vote.

If we as a united country keep this up, we will be fighting in the streets like they do in the Congo. And our enemies would love nothing more. Think it could never happen? We've already had one civil war.

A lot of people will be contentious no matter what is going on or how good things are. Some people just want to go against the grain. Some people would be bored without being angry. They simply refuse to see the light and be happy. They wouldn't be happy if they didn't have something to whine about. So they look until they find something.

Others make their living at it. Consider Limbaugh, Hannity, O'Reilly, pretty much anyone at Fox news, or that Filipina woman Malkin who thinks she knows what an American is. They'll never read this blog, and if they did, it wouldn't phase them. They won't be their better selves, because it pays to be their lower selves. And they are not big enough people to find a more positive way to make a living. How do I know? Because you never hear anything positive from these bigmouths. Not one single positive idea to make the world a better place. Their ideologues were in power for 8 years. For six of those years, their ideologues were in control of the House and Senate, and still they complained every single day. These people are called hate jockeys for a reason. All you hear is bloated hate speech, vile speech that foments nothing but contempt for alternate ideas. There is nothing positive there. And there never will be. Theirs is a dead environment. It's a mental desert.

But it's a free market. Shut them down by not watching. Don't go to their blogs or turn on their shows. It's self-responsibility. Be YOUR better self. You know you can.

We didn't always have this dangerous split in this country. Sure we had political parties, but it wasn't always like this. There was eight years of Reagan, four years of Bush Sr., and then Clinton. Clinton posed a threat to the "politics of dumb". That was the birth of the hate jockeys. First it was Limbaugh in 93-ish. Then Fox news came to prominence. Then you had the also-rans like Coulter. And they have been feeding raw hate to the monster for years. Now it's just dangerous. Clinton threatened their narrow view of the world. These people also bastardized the term "conservative." These people are not conservatives. Conservatives conserve. There was a time, long ago, that conservatives worried about balancing the budget, conserving resources, etc. There are actually republican environmental groups that still exist. For one, there's http://www.rep.org. Those are true conservatives. But these hate jockeys are NOT. Shortly before the election, a man walked into the headquarters of the Arkansas Democratic Party and shot the chairman to death. Before that, a man walked into one of Hillary Clinton's campaign offices and threated to blow the place up. A "man" walked into a "liberal" church and killed people because he had been listening to hate jockeys Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, and Bill O'Reilly. Good job asspukes, you just got Americans killed. But will these cowards own up to their responsibility for those deaths and injuries? Never. Of course not. Because they are cowards. This is what the hate jockeys do. They repeat their extremism until people buy it. Then a couple of the mentally unstable take it out on Americans. Anyone who threatens the hate jockey's and their follower's narrow view is a target. Notice I said "narrow view" and not "ideas," because they have no ideas. No solutions. All they do is deride, belittle, and attack. It's negativity and it's hate. It's a downward spiral, and I think they get high on the ride. It's hate speech, pure and simple. "Conservative" talk show host, Michael Reagan (Reagan's son - yeah, THE Reagan - the dead assmonkey who tried to be a president in the 80's) said that we should kill all Arab BABIES. Minneapolis radio hosts Chris Baker and Langdon Perry suggested that "Magic [Johnson] faked AIDS." Pittsburgh's Jim Quinn called NOW the "National Organization for Whores." Atlanta's Neal Boortz called Hurricane Katrina victims in New Orleans "basically a parasite class totally dependent on government for their existence." Jewish hate jockey Michael Savage said "Autism is a brat that hasn't been told to cut the act out." Glenn Beck said "I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore. And I'm wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody." This is hate speech. You can't say the word "shit" on the radio. That's illegal. But this stuff is a-ok. I'm all for free speech, but there is the famous limitation that "you can't yell 'fire' in a crowded theater." That's what these people are doing. Inciting violence, fear, and hatred where there doesn't need to be any. It's shouting "fire" in a crowded theater.

"We must remember that any oppression, any injustice, any hatred, is a wedge designed to attack our civilization."
- Franklin D. Roosevelt

This type of speech, then, is treason. It's also sedition, which is defined by Websters as "incitement of discontent or rebellion against a government."

These are also people who strongly support Sarah Palin, a known anti-American secessionist. Ever notice how loudly these people scream how "American" they are? In fact, in reality, by their own actions and words, they are the farthest thing from it. The louder you have to scream it, the more it means you're not. These people want to stop democracy (a vote by the people) and truth in any way they can.

The devil will never tell you he's the devil, in fact, he will scream loudly that he's not the devil, but he WILL vehemently attack those who are doing good in the world, trying to improve things, trying to make this world in which we live a better place. He will do everything to bring those people down and stop them.

I have two degrees. That doesn't necessarily mean much, though. But the cool thing about college is this: College doesn't so much teach you facts as it teaches you how to process information, think for yourself, and form your own opinions about a topic. I don't need bloated, hateful fools telling me how to think about a particular piece of news.

Ever wonder why there's so many assholes in the world? It's because it's so easy to be one! It is! Look online and see the posts that some people write. Assholes are everywhere. It's so easy to be that lower self. That's the easy road. The hard road is the one of courage, of lifting yourself up to that better self. That takes courage. Especially when you do it in the face of those who are taking the easy road. Do you have that courage? Most people do not. We live in a world of cowards. Make no mistake, those people who are being their lower selves are just that: COWARDS.

I'm writing this blog before the election and I will support whoever wins in a fair election. Will you? It will be easy if "my side" wins, but not so easy if the other side does. But I look at the courage of the people who fought for this country. If they can do that, I can do this.

If you think this is about political views, and that your views should overrule a shared sense of American patriotism, then consider this: The republicans, like them or hate them, have had eight years in power. They had complete power for six years. Some would argue since there are several "Bush democrats" and the democrats only had a one point lead in the House, the republicans had complete power for all eight years. Either way, they had the ultimate power for those eight years and exercised it: by vetoing bills, vetoing parts of bills by line-item, using signing statements, executive orders, directing policy, etc. And if the democrats win big, the message will be a rejection of the republican's control the last eight years. Republicans will have done it to themselves. This message won't be coming from one or two people, but from the American Voice. Half the country has been waiting eight years for someone they feel represents their views. Eight years is a long time to wait. But they've been patient. They've been peaceful. They've had faith. Those Americans deserve their representation. The vast majority of both sides of the "divide" are good, solid, hard working, tax paying, law-abiding Americans, so the democrats have paid for their representation, too. I'd argue that they paid even more, but that's a discussion for another time. I'd also argue (in a MAJOR) way, that Obama is a centrist. He WILL be a representative for both "sides."

That "leftist" crap comes directly from the hate jockeys. If anyone is "left," it would be someone like Dennis Kucinich. Besides, if you really want to tie fiscal policies with a "right" or "left," remember that Reagan, Bush Sr., and G.W. Bush all had recessions and left office with major deficits. Those are facts. But this is a topic for another time.

[Update. Nov 7th: I'm coming back to add in that before the election, Karl Rove said Obama was the most liberal candidate, and just today, he basically said that Obama was a conservative. End of Update.]

Why is it important that you be your better self? You're just one person right? We are all just one person. Barack Obama is just one person. John McCain is just one person. It's important because YOUR voice is the American Dialogue. Your voice is an important part of the intellectual progress of the greatest nation on earth. Never underestimate your impact on others. Your thoughts come out in your words and actions. Those thoughts impact every other person around you, whether you realize it or not. Your voice has a ripple effect. If effects the ten people around you, and the ten people around them, and so on.... I've always had low self-esteem and and for most of my life have been a very negative person. That was very evident to everyone around me. Many, many times in my life, situations have come up that have shown the impact I had on other people just by my words. I'd never even thought that was possible. I've always been amazed by that because despite my low self-esteem, this showed that I meant something to those people and that my thoughts, words, and actions had much more power than I had ever thought possible. And so do yours. Your voice is so important. It's part of the great dialogue of this country and that dialogue decides what happens to this country. There really isn't a left or a right. Only forwards or backwards.

If we can't show the exterior world our solidarity and be united (remember that word, united? It's part of our name...), then they'll know they'll forever have found the chink in our armor.

How can you use this new attitude to make a difference, should you choose to? When you hear this kind of pointed negativity with no basis, speak up. Question the person. Call them out on it. Save this blog to your Favorites and ask the person to read it....

Nothing worth having comes easy. Historian and presidential biographer David McCullough once said about JFK, "The great thing about Kennedy is that he didn't say I'm going to make it easier for you. He said it's going to be harder. And he wasn't pandering to the less noble side of human nature. He was calling on us to give our best."

It's not up to any one person, even the president, to save us. It's up to us. There's a Hopi Indian prayer that says: "We are the ones we have been waiting for."

America is, and has always been, a model of democracy for the world at large. The fact is, democracy works. Give it time, and it does work as long as the elections are fair. Every two years, we have the opportunity to cleanse, throw the bums out, throw out the trash, or perhaps just infuse the lifeblood with some new blood. That's how it works, and by and large, it DOES work.

Let's show those who hate us that we as Americans can come together and be positive and supportive of our countrymen, of our democratic society, and of the officials who we the people elected.

There has never in the history of our great nation been a more critical time for each of us as individuals to take a good look at ourselves and answer the question "Are we as Americans worthy of the greatness that we all believe America represents?" If yes, can we come together to prove this? That time has come upon us. It is here. It is right now.


UPDATE: Fri, November 7th, 2008
Wow, what a couple of weeks it's been. As you know by now, things look quite different. The democrats definitely won big. President-elect Obama set all number of records. Amazing. The people get a chance to speak every two years and they sure spoke. They couldn't have been much clearer.

I'm going to try to keep my word. I will support President-elect Obama and his administration all the way. He's already working hard to make the transition and coming up with plans. ACTION. That's what I like to see. It wasn't that long ago that one president took a nine month vacation before he did a damn thing. It's nice to see an intelligent, hard working leader.

As I said, I'm going to try to keep my word. I think democracy is a wonderful thing. America spoke loud and clear. The American people once again showed the world that democracy works. But already, as I knew they would, the "lower selves" in this country are attacking OUR president-elect and trying to tear him down. I was switching channels and got a glimpse of a stock market report on Fox and the guy was saying that on President-elect Obama's first day as president-elect, somehow he's responsible for the market drop that day. UNCONSCIONABLE. Absolutely disgusting. I've seen other articles and comments putting him down as well. This, good folks, is my definition of UNAMERICAN!!!

He hasn't even done anything yet other than planning and picking staff. He's president-elect. He hasn't been sworn in yet. He's not even president. He hasn't made a single executive/presidential decision, so there's nothing to attack him for, but people are still trying! Just what our enemies love about us...

GIVE THE GUY A CHANCE. Let's come together to defend him and support him. Damn!

When should you stop supporting him? Well you can stop it to some degree when he does something that gives you a valid reason to. When he does something crazy, like... Oh, I dunno... lying to get us into a war that we shouldn't be in that costs us trillions of dollars and 4,191 American soldiers' lives.... then you'll have a valid reason not to support him.

America gave Bush a chance. Let's give Obama one. Is that really too much to ask?


UPDATE: November 10, 2008
On the news today, I heard a couple of times that Barack Obama's approval rating is 70%. While this is absolutely excellent compared to Bush's, it makes me very sad for my country. When you take a test in school, you start out with a 100 theoretically. It's assumed you have a 100 before you take the test. As you get things wrong, your score goes down. He's not even president yet, hasn't made one executive decision and yet his approval rating is 70%. This tells me people aren't going to give him a chance. This is shameful.

UPDATE: November 18, 2008
I thought I'd come back and brighten things up with something that was said today. Consider who this is from, Nebraskan republican Senator Chuck Hagel:

"Eighty-seven percent of the American people said America is going in the wrong direction," said Hagel. "You don't need to know another number about anything, and so the election was pretty predictable: the American people don't like what is going on... they want us to start doing what leaders are expected to do, address the problems, find some consensus to governing. Get along. There will be disagreements, sure... but in the end we can't hold ourselves captives to this raw, partisan, political paralysis."

"Yes, there have been some differences and some pretty significant ones in [the Republican Party]. But when you ask the question: 'Has [our approach] worked? I don't think many people will say it has worked," he said, adding later: "God knows I would never question the quality of our elected officials, that's why I'm so popular with many of them."

Hagel had the following words about the foreign policy attitude of his fellow republicans:

"Engagement is not appeasement," he said. "Diplomacy is not retreat. Somehow too many in this town and in this country have disconnected all of that."

"There is always going to be a certain know-nothing element to democracy," said Hagel. "That is their choice. But in a world that is so vitally interconnected, it does help if you try to understand the other side... Ask them: 'What is it that scares you about the French so much?'"

"We are educated by the great entertainers like Rush Limbaugh," said Hagel, sarcastically referencing the hate jockey. "You know, I wish Rush Limbaugh and others like that would run for office. They have so much to contribute and so much leadership and they have an answer for everything. And they would be elected overwhelmingly," he offered. "[The truth is] they try to rip everyone down and make fools of everybody but they don't have any answers."

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