Teachable Moments

Here I sit watching Super Bowl XLVI, sipping Taittinger NV Brut Champagne with my wife, on her birthday, mildly berating myself because I forgot to open a bottle of bubbly last Sunday, MY birthday. We’re savoring the aroma of a pork shoulder roasting slowly in our oven, destined to become Carolina-style pulled pork and devoured for dinner in a few hours. Therefore, I’m about as mellow as a fellow can get.

I came up with the subject of this blog post last week, but as I write it during the Super Bowl, with most of America watching, my theme of a teachable moment gives me hope that a mass education of citizenry is possible someday, because the tools of mass communication we possess make that possible today. The mega-teachable moment?

My teachable moment is right now in American politics. I’ll even be so naïve as to predict that history might look back upon the early 21st century as the moment in time when Americans gave up on politics as a means of solving America’s societal problems. I’ve been bewildered for decades now by the fact that the voting populace has been brainwashed into believing that a person who excels at winning elections is automatically qualified to govern. I’ve also been bewildered by the perception of the voting populace that these shysters actually care about the average person’s plight. The third leg of this triumvirate of propaganda is that business is somehow the enemy, and that government is somehow the noble knight protecting us from the evil businessman.

Politicians are good at winning popularity contests. Think of them as adult homecoming kings and queens. But when you needed problems solved in high school, to whom did you turn? The nerds and the geeks. The idea people, those who think for themselves and aren’t afraid to tell the truth, because they aren’t trying to please all the people all the time. The problem solvers. Those who are willing to act, and are willing to stand up for what they believe in. People who have integrity. They say what they mean, and they mean what they say. Only one politician running for President of the United States has those qualities, but he probably won’t win because he’s not trying to win a popularity contest. That dismays me. But I also derive great hope from that man, because his ideas are being heard by many more people, making sense to many more people, and inspiring many more people to vote with their conscience instead of voting for who they think will be Mr. Popular. Those who vote in elections and see it as a popularity contest are misguided in that all they get from the election is bragging rights that they backed a winner.

I think of all the Obama supporters who thought things were going to be so-o-o-o different once he took office and got those nasty Republicans out of power. How’s that working out for you guys? I’ve heard just as much disappointment, maybe more, from former Obama supporters than I heard from former George W. Bush supporters near the end of his presidential debacle. Both major parties insist on playing the popularity contest game because that’s the best way they know to distract you from the truth about politics in America for more than 100 years—It ain’t about governing, it’s about staying in power. This means getting re-elected. That’s all that counts with these frauds. Period.

Those of you who say, “Yes, but my party needs to stay in power so we can steer the country in the right direction.” And how well has that worked for us with both major parties sharing control during our lifetimes? We are unofficially bankrupt. The middle class is shrinking to nothing. We’ve lost more personal freedom in the last 11 years than has been snatched from us in the previous 225. We are reviled around the world for our meddling in other countries’ internal affairs. China has more control over our economy than we do. Families that formerly prospered with one breadwinner a few generations ago now struggle with two breadwinners working multiple jobs just to keep the family solvent and able to pay the regular bills, and God help you if one of the breadwinners becomes disabled or dies.

The teachable moment is to think outside of the box. Don’t keep doing the same things over and over and expect a different outcome. (Thanks to Albert Einstein for that brilliant definition of insanity.) Think for yourself; don’t blindly swallow as truth whatever those who scream loudest at you are saying. Why do we trust 536 men and women to make all of our major decisions for us, and insist that the other 300-plus MILLION sit on our hands and hope that these gladhanders do the right thing … whatever that may be?

And that’s the 800-pound gorilla in the room. There is no one right thing for everybody. There are more than three hundred million “right things.” One for each of us. I can’t pretend to know what your right thing is, especially since I’ve never met most of you. (Hi Mom, Dad, and Sandra). And I’ll b damned if I want you to waste your time trying to figure out my “right thing.” Life’s too short to worry so much about the other guy. I have enough trouble navigating successfully from day to day without feeling as if I need to worry about you. So why do our clueless leaders pretend that they know, or can figure out the answers to yours, mine, and our problems? THEY CAN’T. Anyone who tells you they can is a liar, plain and simple.

The one great “right thing” is for our government officials to stop leading around by nose rings so much, and recraft government to get out of our way as much as possible. Defend our shores from those who would harm us. Establish a legal system than is elegantly simple and metes out justice impartially and fairly. Stop taxing us to death, let us keep most if not all the fruits of our labors, don’t regulate us to the point of throwing up our hands in frustration because we think everything we do might be construed as a criminal offense. Stop forcing us to use money that is propped up only by false promises. Let us decide what we do in the privacy of our own homes, as long as we do not infringe in any way upon the rights of everyone else to do whatever they wish to do in the privacy of their own homes. Stop trying to legislate our morality and, by extension, our behavior. Stop amassing great military power and forcing other countries to do as we say and live the way we live. Stop trying to save the world. Stop trying to control the world. Just stop.

My solution to all this is to listen to Ron Paul. Listen to what the Ludwig von Mises Institute has to say about all these topics. Check out the Libertarian Party, or any other third party. Think for yourselves. Read books you normally wouldn’t read. Listen to more than two sides to every issue. The DemoPublicans only want you to hear their two sides, which are fundamentally two sides of the same coin. They base their message on telling us what to do and how to do it. The third side of the argument is telling them that most of what we do is none of their damn business, and taking away every power and institution that doesn’t support the concept of individual freedom coupled with individual responsibility.

Don’t be afraid to learn, America. Dare to strive for greatness again, this time unfettered by a bloated government that is actually destroying our society at the same time they cry, louder and louder, “Iceberg? What Iceberg?”

What’s your take on politics in America in 2012? Are we at a crossroads? Is there a better solution?

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