Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Ongoing Opposition and Alternative Voices

May 6, 2013

Announcing the Green Shadow Cabinet … intended to provide an ongoing opposition and alternative voice to the dysfunctional government in Washington D.C. It includes nearly 100 prominent scientists, community and labor leaders, physicians, cultural workers, veterans, and others. As with shadow cabinets in other countries, the Green Shadow Cabinet of the United States plans to respond to statements and actions of the existing U.S. government, and hopes to demonstrate that another government of these United States is possible, practical, and beneficial. The Cabinet is currently led by the 2012 Green Party presidential nominees: Dr. Jill Stein, and Ms. Cheri Honkala. It is explicitly not a project of any political party, however, and invites participation by all who support sensible government politics and policies.

This may not be the first instance of such an idea, but it’s the first one I’ve ever heard of, and it’s a great one.

Now there stands a real possibility that some or all of the bought-and-paid for, short-sighted, small-minded, self-serving, and wrong-headed statements and decisions by the “official” U.S. government can be seen in the light of smarter, better ideas and policies put forth by experts and specialists who have a larger view and a predilection for helping the vast majority of Americans rather than the wealthy and privileged few.

Here’s a link to a list of current Shadow Cabinet members:

Here’s a link to some early statements by Shadow Cabinet members:

Here’s a link to where you can sign up for the Shadow Cabinet’s electronic newsletter:

Here’s a link to where you can donate to support the Shadow Cabinet:

Fortunately, contributions are not tax-deductible. If they were, and if the Shadow Cabinet were to obey the tax laws, it would be barred from trying to influence government policies or elections. Plenty of right wing organizations and religious organizations claim their tax deductibility, but go right ahead and lobby, advertise, and otherwise try to peddle their influence. At least the Green Shadow Government is starting from a position of honesty.

With thanks to Winston Churchill: This Shadow Cabinet may not be the be-all and end-all of efforts to reform and revitalize our broken U.S. government. It may not even be the beginning of finding the be-all and end-all of such an effort. But it may be the end of the beginning!


You Won This Time But You Can’t Keep It Up Forever

November 17, 2012

You don’t get it, do you?

Yes, David beat Goliath.

Yes, Peter Pan beat Captain Hook.

Yes, Lawrence of Arabia beat the Ottoman Empire.

Yes, Fordham beat UMass (1971).

Yes, Stanford beat USC (2007).

Yes, the Tigers beat the Yankees.

Yes, New York City survived Superstorm Sandy.

Yes, Obama and the Democrats beat Romney and the Republicans and their billionaires’ money.

But don’t be so sure you can do it again.

This is a country that runs on information, and most of that information is transmitted via television, plus some radio. Sure, there’s the internet, but that’s really small potatoes compared with the broadcast media. To understand why, think about the numbers. Most websites, tweets, blogs, and forums on the internet get a few thouand visitors. Maybe a few hundred thousand. A really giant one will get a million visitors a month. A monster “viral” success will get two or three million visitors over its lifetime.

On television, a show that gets two million viewers is quickly canceled. At one point Rush Limbaugh had five million people listening to him every day. Every day! Sixty million people watched each of the pre-election Presidential debates. Sixty million!

TV and radio is where most voters get their information, along with word of mouth from friends, who also get their information from radio and television. If you’re’ not on TV, you’re not a viable candidate for national or even state office. And if your message, or point of view, or facts are not on TV, they literally do not find their way into the minds, hearts, and memory banks of America’s voters.

Of course, it’s easy to get on TV and radio … if you have tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars to spend on promotional efforts, message development, and … the bottom line … purchase of advertising time.

If you don’t have the big bucks, you’re not going to get on TV or radio very much. In that case, your ideas and your messages and your facts will wither on the vine. They’ll be highly appreciated by your immediate family, but not by very many more.

So this election cycle, for a variety of reasons, Obama and the Democrats beat Romney and the Republicans and their billionaires’ money. But next election cycle, some of those reasons may not be quite so vibrant and strong as they were this time. And the cycle after that, there may not be a Superstorm to focus voters’ attention of the favorable work that government can sometimes do. And the cycle after that, there may not be screaming yahoos on the Republican side mouthing nonsense and acting like clowns. And the cycle after that, Republican strategists may have learned to spend all that money sweetly wooing voters instead of insensitively pissing them off.

And when that happens the Party of the One Percenters, suitably disguised in working class clothes and skillfully uttering populist slogans and slathering those sophisticated messages all over the TV screens and radio dials of America, may sneak into a big time electoral victory.

After all, most of the time, the odds greatly favor Goliath over David, Captain Hook over Peter Pan, the Ottoman Empire over Lawrence of Arabia, UMass with Julius Erving over Fordham without him, a strong USC team over a weak Stanford team, the Yankees over the Tigers, a monster storm like Sandy over a New York City not designed for two-story high storm surges, and the Republicans’ billionaires’ money over a relatively underfunded Democratic party.

One solution would be to raise as much money as the Republicans. But that normally requires the cooperation of billionaires, and then Democrats would have to offer those billionaires basically the same paybacks as the Republicans do.

A better solution would be to finish the effort to get money out of politics, now, before money entrenches itself into politics so deeply it becomes inseparable, so we can all settle down to watching a fair fight between equally matched, equally clever politicians. And may the better party win!

Whichever party that turns out to be, the nation will be the better for it.