Independent Investigations
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DIMINISHING DEMOCRACY


Let me confess out front that I am no longer a Republican. I am a registered Independent and no longer have to deal with the emotions and internal turmoil I experienced while belonging to a political party that does not in any way represent my basic instincts or political leanings. I changed my party affiliation during the Clinton years. Let me also confess that when I decided to leave the Republican Party I considered joining the Democratic Party. At that time, I could not come to a significant agreement with the political leanings of those in the Democratic Party. Becoming an Independent was my only other real option.  

 
I would classify myself as a fiercely independent individual who has a great deal of distrust for those who make their living in the political arena. I participated in the country’s first national election where 18 year olds were allowed to vote. In 1972 I voted for Richard Nixon. My vote was cast that year without a great deal of political insight. My parents voted for Nixon. I voted for Nixon. I can still remember the emotions I felt as I walked out of the polling booth that day. I also remember being totally embarrassed as the ladies running the polling location made a big deal about “little Steve” voting in his first national election. Just stop it ladies!  

Generally, I lean towards the progressive policies espoused by Democrats. However, I have an extreme distaste for the political ineptitude and lack of will demonstrated by the Democratic Party.  

As I survey the political environment in the country at this time I am significantly dismayed by the words and actions of those on the right. At this time there is no doubt in my mind as to the direction that the political right has driven over the past several years. Nixon, the man that I voted for in my first election, came to the conclusion that the future of the Republican Party was in the South. After evaluating the actions of the party, I realize now that the South has become the region of the country where it can still carry on successful political activity. That is not to say that conservatives in other regions of the country do not have a stake, and a contribution to make to the party. That being said, conservatives in the South have their loudspeakers turned on full volume most of the time and tend to drown out contributions from other areas of the country. 

I also have no doubt that much of the machinations and political discourse coming from the Republican party at this time are the result of the party playing to various levels of racial discomfort being generated by the presence of a black man sitting in the oval office. I would rather that I had not come to this realization. However, the evidence is clear. The party is using “racial discomfort” in an attempt to generate political will. I use the term “racial discomfort” as a general term. There are varying levels of this “discomfort” ranging from the extreme rage exhibited by devout racists to mild discomfort exhibited by those who are just not sure if “a black man can do the job as well as a white man”. There is not a shred of doubt in my mind that the Republican Party is playing on the fears of the so-called “angry white voter”. History records that this isn’t the first time the Republican Party has operated in this way.

When I look at the Republican Party at this time I have a difficult time determining who is leading the party. Many would agree that at this time there is no significant leadership coming from the party. Let’s face it, the party got its head handed to them in the last two elections. The reasons behind this might be the subject of a great article, but this is not the place for it. However, anyone who evaluates the performance of the Republican Party in the last two national elections has to realize that they got smoked. The country has basically made the statement that in most cases, they were experiencing Republican Party fatigue.

Republicans tend to be wandering in the wilderness these days without any central figure that can bring them back to prominence. Before you get too caught up in the “Rush Limbaugh Is Our Spokesman” routine, it might be wise to consider your conservative beliefs and whether or not Mr. Limbaugh is the person you want as your “mouthpiece.” Notice I don’t use the word “spokesman”. I don’t believe he is a spokesman for anyone but himself. Any legitimate evaluation of Mr. Limbaugh will bring several important character issues to the forefront.

Remember first that he is a serial divorce’. For those whose political leanings are centered around their legitimate spiritual beliefs and lifestyles and the importance of marriage and the family, having someone who has so blatantly disregarded their core beliefs is a significant contradiction. Spiritual beliefs and significant contradiction do not make for a great marriage of ideas. Remember also that Mr. Limbaugh has had significant issues with illegal use of pain killers. While even the most spiritual individuals can suffer from this, the fact that he has had this problem tends to cause more problems for spiritual individuals who can’t seem to get past the contradiction. 

Another area of “contradiction” in Mr. Limbaugh is that he has demonstrated and to this day demonstrates a significant presence of racial and gender insensitivity. Limbaugh was removed from a very significant broadcasting position, my beloved “Monday Night Football”, for remarks made about a very talented player in the National Football League. The National Football League and their broadcast partners made the decision that they could not have an individual who espoused racial insensitivity on their national broadcasts. There are many of people who believe that Limbaugh has significant racial prejudices and tends to use them in his attempts to “fire up the base”. He has always concentrated on the presence of “reverse racism” in his attempt to sway the minds of his “ditto heads”. The very term “ditto head” illustrates that someone “thinks just like he does”. That is about as embarrassing a claim as one could make. Sheep are not the most logical and intelligent members of God’s creation. They will follow you over a cliff without a second thought.  

 
To females who are reading this today, Mr. Limbaugh has exhibited tendencies towards gender intolerance. If you are a female and you are espousing the ideas that Limbaugh espouses on his daily radio show, you have a significant problem. Limbaugh is not necessarily respected for his views on gender equality. For the life of me, I can not ever fathom that a woman, or a minority individual could remotely identify with Mr. Limbaugh. I haven’t even broached the constant sexual and homophobic nature of his commentary. 

 
The point I am trying to make here is that the purported “leader of the conservative movement” in this country, is a significantly compromised individual who does not make attempts to hide it, and yet is considered a leader by those who fiercely believe in things that are complete opposites. That is called a contradiction. Some call it hypocrisy. If there is one thing a significantly spiritual individual can not afford it is hypocrisy. Hypocrisy reduces your message to irrelevancy. The genuine nature of ones faith can be very attractive to the unfaithful. Lack of consistency is grounds for having ones faith questioned in ways that drive unbelievers farther away.

  
We all have many instances of hypocrisy in our lives. However, those who shout the loudest, can least afford to be known as individuals whose inconsistencies betray their message. My point here is that I am calling on the “faithful” to make legitimate inquiry into the nature of those you consider your leaders before blindly following their dictates.  If Rush Limbaugh is your leader, one who speaks for you, the very nature of your spiritual life is compromised in the eyes of those who may be seeking what you have.

 
It has been stated in recent days that a majority in the Republican Party either believe that our sitting President was not born in this country or they are not sure if he was or not. While this is not a place where I am going to discuss the illegitimacy of their thought processes, I want to let it be known that many of us believe that their real issue is not the certification of his birthplace, it is the presence of his pigmentation and their inability to accept it.

It is almost as if they don’t want to be identified as someone who has difficulty with his race so they come out, guns blazing on a different issue. The rage they feel over the belief in the illegitimacy of his Presidency fuels secondary fire that was put out long ago. One of the most interesting aspects of the actions of those who are called “birthers” is that they do not realize that their actions are going to be used against their party in significant ways in the next election cycle.

Those who are affiliated with the Democratic Party have done very little to knock down the actions of a movement whose behavior will significantly affect the thinking of those who will vote in the next election. It is almost as if the Democrats are saying, “This is awesome, keep it up, we are recording all of this for future advantage.” Again, before you automatically “buy in” to the beliefs, check out the credibility of the leadership of the movement. It is impossible to legitimately evaluate the history of these individuals and come to the conclusion that they have both oars in the water. Buy in to their beliefs at your own peril. Espouse their beliefs to others and risk irrelevancy.

So for the past several weeks we are seeing video and reading stories about how conservatives are being driven towards disrupting town hall meetings designed to further the dialogue on the recent health care reform attempts of the Democrats. First of all, let it be known that town hall meetings are designed as an attempt to determine the legitimate concerns and beliefs of the population.

Town hall meetings are an exercise in democracy. They are a place where concerned citizens can have their questions answered and state their core beliefs about a given topic. Let me state unequivocally that attempts to disrupt town hall meetings are not an exercise in democracy. The actions that are being taken at this time by a small number of conservatives are designed to disrupt democracy.  

I am sure you remember individuals that you grew up with that made the decision to “take the ball and go home” while you were playing some incredibly competitive and exciting game in your neighborhood. The thinking behind this action is that the rest can’t play if I take my ball home because it is the only one we have. Do you see the parallel here? If you don’t, you may be under the influence of those who have led these individuals to act as spoiled children and take their ball home so the rest of us can’t play!

Speaking of influence, do you know who the individuals are who are making the efforts to get town halls meetings disrupted? Are you familiar with Rick Scott? Rick Scott, is the former head of Columbia/HCA. This organization is a “for-profit” hospital chain. In other words, he made his money running an organization that made a great deal of their money off of federally funded health plans. Now he is attempting to limit federally funded health plans. You can’t make this stuff up. But it actually gets better.

 Here is an interesting little factoid that might make you think twice about following this guy. Mr. Scott was forced out of that job during a fraud investigation. The company he was running pleaded guilty to charges of over billing state and federal health plans. In other words they were using their position to steal from the Government of the United States. They ended up paying 1.7 billion in fines! That is not 1.7 million. 1.7 billion is a lot of money. They had to pay the government back the money they stole. Now I ask you, do you buy in to this type of behavior? Rick Scott is now leading an organization called “Conservatives for Patients Rights”. This is the organization working so hard to get information out to unknowing conservatives and giving them direction on where and how to disrupt town hall meetings designed to discuss health care. Smells like hypocrisy to me. Yet, the sheep blindly follow their leader off the cliff without thinking of what is in store for them upon impact.

A warning to individuals who value their political discourse and the exchange of ideas. This isn’t in your best interests! Democrats are storing away a lot of footage of those exhibiting this behavior. They will use it to make these individuals the “face of the Republican party.” Is this the face of the conservatism? Is the face of conservatism actually a group of people who distort and impede democracy? I guarantee you that is how it will be portrayed in the next national election. Keep it up at your peril.

By the way, now that the President is pushing for health care reform, the conservatives have suddenly become concerned about doing it right. Who do you think shut down President Clinton’s health care reform efforts during his first years in office? Conservatives did. If they were so concerned at that time about “doing it right” why didn’t they make any effort to pass health care reform during the Bush administration? There were no attempts folks. None, Zip, The Null Set, for you mathematicians out there!

Why didn’t they try? Would it be outrageous for me to suggest that it was not politically expedient for them to attempt to pass legislation that would impact those who made major contributions to their political savings accounts? Not that any one group claims ownership of failing to meet the needs of their constituents by actions that ensure that they will have the money to get re-elected. If this was not the case, maybe they just didn’t care. Now that health care reform is back in play, all of the sudden they care. The pool of hypocrisy seems to always be overflowing.

So now everyone is up in the air about health care reform. During the August recess from legislative activity on the hill, politicians are doing their best to “get their message out” to the people who elected them. Rather than allow a legitimate political discourse, conservatives are “taking their ball and going home”. Make no mistake in your thinking, efforts to disrupt town hall meetings are nothing more than efforts to rig the game so that others can not win. Disruption makes noise. It makes lots of noise. However, political noise is not going to produce solutions. Progressives won the last two elections handily and because of this health care reform is coming, and coming soon.

There are good ideas in this legislation such as making it impossible for insurance companies to deny health policies to those with prior conditions. There are other ideas that may not be “up to speed”. But how are we going to know this if the sheep of the conservative party keep us from finding out about it? Here is one final fact that you should consider when evaluating the events of the past few weeks. A large majority of the individuals who are disrupting the town hall meetings are either on Medicare or Medicaid, or have parents who are. The pool of hypocrisy is deep and the water is fairly warm. Mind if I don’t test the waters?

The statement being made in these town halls tends to be centered on the fact that people don’t want the government interceding in other peoples health care, and refusal to acknowledge the fact that the government is currently providing you or someone you know with their health care. Are we talking about ignorance here or hypocrisy? Could it be that following the direction of compromised leadership opens one up to compromised thinking and results in compromised behavior? Think before acting my friends.  

This country will be a lot better off when more of the electorate will investigate and discover the things that are going on. I would suggest that if we would stop believing what others tell us to believe, and start finding things out for ourselves we would be more open to the expression of ideas. At least after you have done that you can defend your position. Defending your position is part of the democratic process this country affords us. Defend your position with integrity, but don’t keep others from defending theirs. I will listen to the considerate defense of any position. When you add rage and hypocrisy to the equation, democracy is diminished.

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