The technology of warfare increased significantly between WWI and WWII. Tanks, airplanes, and rocket technology was far beyond anything seen in WWI. It was a new war with a new enemy. Digging trenches did little to slow down invading Panzer divisions.
Likewise, when the shoe bomber, Richard Reid, was discovered (by passengers, NOT the TSA), it changed the strategy that is still used in the attempt to keep air travel safe. Removing shoes is standard at the check-in lines at airports now. Does that make anyone safer? Probably not. It’s simply fighting yesterday’s battle. Today’s (and tomorrow’s) terrorist is not likely to hide anything in his shoes, since it’s a given that he’ll have to remove them prior to boarding.
Politics is no different. The Republicans in 2012 tried to fight Jimmy Carter all over again and it didn’t work. I don’t recall a campaign ad actually asking the question “Are you better off now than you were four years ago,” but there were obvious overtones to it. It didn’t work. Obama increased the national debt by $6,000,000,000. That’s his campaign budget. Those who suckle at that national teat probably ARE better off than they were four years ago. About $6,000,000,000 better off.
Here’s what I think we face in the years ahead. We have an entitlement class (rich, poor, young, old) that is relatively immune from economic realities–at least the sharp edges of it. We face voters who are moved by emotion rather than intellect. We face generations of publicly-educated people who cannot reason and who possess almost no historic or cultural context to view their world.
Asking them to assess the country’s economic state, its standing in the world, the direction we need to head, and the steps necessary to move in that direction is unfortunately beyond the capacity of many of those people. These are the people who think clicking “Like” on facebook will help a child be cured of cancer. Don’t believe that? Notice how many “Likes” there are the next time you see one. Perhaps all we need to do is forward a “Click ‘Like’ if you want the economy to improve” page on facebook and see if it helps?
So what do we have to do to turn this country around? I have some ideas, but it’s going to take a long time to do that.
1) We have to begin to educate people. Old and young. There is too much ignorance out there that needs to be erased. Not stupidity, ignorance. There’s a difference. You can’t really fix stupid, but you can overcome ignorance. Engage people in conversation, then use that opportunity to educate them. Listen to them, ask them questions and make them think.
2) We have to stop playing nice. I don’t mean start up a counter-OWS movement, but rather stop playing along with the games the progressives play. Interrupt them when they slip in faulty definitions and narratives. Let the conversations come to a grinding halt, until we make ourselves heard and understood, so that people can see what the core issues are that face us.
3) Stop tolerating their bad behavior. Tell Chris Matthews to shut up. Tell Rachel Maddow that she doesn’t understand the conversation and to educate herself better. Tell the Jon Stewarts, Stephen Colberts, and David Lettermans that the “I’m just an entertainer” mask they hide behind is transparent and hides nothing. Then challenge them to defend their “jokes.”
4) Identify our standards, our ideologies, and our priorities, then vote for the candidate that best represents them. That may mean voting for a third party candidate, but don’t prostitute our vote and our values by settling for the lesser of two evils. Be the little boy who wasn’t intimidated by the masses and cry out “The emperor is naked” when he is. It takes courage to stand out from the crowd, but it may be surprising how many will join in.
5) Finance those who deserve our money. This gets into very personal and uncomfortable territory, but do we really want to give Bruce Springsteen any money? Barbara Streisand? Cher?
I think that by doing these things, we will restore something that’s largely lost in our culture. We can become a classy people. Whether it’s the O’Reilly Factor or Hardball, it is classless to sit there and try to outshout each other. Being politely firm, stating a position intelligently, challenging bad behavior, living by identifiable standards, and carefully allocating our resources will raise the level of sophistication in our society.
I have been at work since before 7:00 today and haven’t had a chance to see any of the analyses of last night’s election. Certainly plenty of others more articulate and informed have weighed in on the subject, but this is what I’ve been contemplating today.
I’m tired…too tired to sit down and give up.