Even after Trump, Ryan, McConnell, Pence and others are removed from office and prosecuted, we have to continue to ask pertinent questions and dig deeper. Much deeper. We must rectify, with love and attention, the underpinnings of what allowed this to happen in the first place. We have a lot of work to do and much of it will not be easy. We must not lose steam, as citizens. And we must work diligently to act upon these cancerous moles in our business and government.
We have been here before, with the 1980’s savings and loan debacle and many other huge frauds against the American public. The same names and associations keep popping up. We have to ask the question: Why did our Federal law enforcement agencies and political representatives fail in taking down these organized crime units over time and, by this failing, allow them to secure deep roots within our political sphere?
There may be several answers to this. Let me start a list:
1. Greed: Oldest of human failings. And it is behind the Trump voter’s ignoring of, and even support of, his complete lack of ethical underpinnings. Somehow, a bloviating, greedy, perverted, fat old white man who fires people with glee has become the representative for American culture. The 1980’s “Greed is Good” on steroids. I know if some fly-over Americans had a chance to hang out with Wall Street executives (who siphon from our economy for a living) for a day, they would be quite disgusted with the “Greed is Good” motto. But from a distance, they found Trump appealing. We have to fix that. We have to define a new standard and scream it to the rooftops. Say it over and over. Repair this cultural groove which says nothing is of value unless it makes you money. Redefine what “American” is. We have to fix that.
2. Law Enforcement laziness: We all know from the news how local and state police departments have focused their efforts on arresting predominantly men from minority communities, putting them in prison for relatively low level crimes – – who are often innocent or mainly so – – to the exclusion of dealing with white collar crime. Most Americans are not aware that our federal law enforcement has taken the same tack: That it’s easier to arrest a jaywalker escaping a shootout on their side of the street than to deal with the real criminals who caused the deterioration in community that led to the shootout. It is harder and more dangerous to do the deep work to uncover the bad crime elements than to go after average citizens with no resources to even understand what is happening to them or defend themselves.
The network of bureaucratic controlling elements in education, medicine, banking, accounting, law and other professions makes it easy for law enforcement to find “jaywalking” crimes and to NOT do the work of routing out the mob in our communities. We know that the Russian mob is active in every large city in the union. Federal law enforcement know they are there. But…. it’s hard and dangerous to deal with them and easier to hit the “jaywalkers”.
The need to account for their job, measured by arrests instead of measured by a safe, peaceful community, keeps law enforcement seeking the “low hanging fruit” rather than go after the core problem. Not to mention the horrific and immoral financial motivation now inserted into our legal and prison systems. We are now seeing the results of decades of this behavior. Remember how, after the banking debacle, you saw low level mom and pop mortgage people going to federal prison for mortgage fraud, yet the people BEHIND THE FRAUD are still doing business as usual. So, the lower echelons, many who were lifelong good citizens entrepreneurially drawn into this lucrative business, were jailed, while the masterminds of this are still running our country from Wall Street. This has to be unacceptable to our citizens. The focus on these problems in local law enforcement are just beginning to be elucidated.
On the Federal level, most citizens have no idea what is happening. Look at our massive problems with local policing and multiply it times 100.
3. Treating politics like a sport or a gambling endeavor: We have long known that gambling is toxic to a civilization. It was a key part of the fall of Rome. Yet, somehow citizens have allowed this mob-inducing, mob-expanding and money laundering activity to enter communities all over America. We have to stop this.
Secondly, the insertion of sports into our daily vernacular has been insidious and profound. Over 100 years, the Green Bay Packers went from a weekend work sponsored touch football type team to a multi-billion dollar a year business. And they are one of the “good ones”. Sports organizations have viciously utilized bribery and tax monies to enrich a handful of oligarchs, who play on the “us vs them” human button.
How much time every week is spent by people who slave away at factories during the day, watching sports on TV at night? Sedating them into compliance. Getting them to argue about who is the best quarterback, rather than talk about real issues in the real world? How many millions of people sit on the couch every weekend watching sports and eating/drinking the corporate-prescribed “yummy” fake food while they do it? How many men have shifted their self view of manhood from being able to change out your own carburetor to knowing who is up or down this week in basketball? How significantly has the Good Sportsmanship meme been lost – – to be replaced with the “anything to win is good” meme or the “violence and lack of sportsmanship wins” meme? How many families sit on the couch, wearing $100 dollar team shirts, eating/yelling together instead of going out and doing their OWN sports, contributing to the obesity epidemic?
If we continue with this behavior, we are complicit. Instead of supporting your national team, make a team of your own. Instead of rooting for bloviating, raping, violent multi-millionaire, out of control pseudo-stars headed for brain damage, why don’t you root for your friends and family instead?
I’ll bet you like them more.
4. Fear: Over time, the financial and power basis of middle America has waned. It happened drop by drop and the right wing has intentionally used the tactic to get citizens to blame one another rather than to look at the bigger causative picture. They got them to blame the ‘gubmint’ or ’the lazy takers’, which results in these poor and desperate people blaming those who could help them rather than joining together to guide and direct OUR government. This has led to the lazy “all gubment is bad” approach, which throws the baby out with the bath water.
Everyone reading this has experienced horrific behavior from government facilities, from standing at the DMV, to local zoning problems, to more serious issues. We have all felt the heavy hand of government bureaucracy. Yet, the solution for this is citizen involvement. If citizens had DEMANDED a better DMV years ago, none of us would have had to endure that.
But we just complained and did nothing.
The fact is, each and every one of these issues must be addressed by CITIZENS. We are the boss of our leaders, at least so far. It is our JOB to hold them accountable. Even if we like them. Even and especially if they are of our “party”. Each and every problem we see needs a citizen committee to investigate and act on the issues. EACH OF US must stand up and become a part of the solution.
Are you a computer programmer? Then create a program which tracks governmental spending and share it with all municipalities.
Are you an accountant? Then help average citizens understand what this tracking of governmental spending means. Find the above computer programmer to help you. We need you.
Did you stand in line at the DMV? Then form a group to evaluate what they are doing and how it can improve.
Did you experience a long line, unsatisfactory service, or some other slight from a government agency? Then fix it and don’t just complain.
Do you lament the poor neighborhood across town which impinges on your lifestyle? Then make a healthy dinner and take it over to a family. TALK with them. Find out what the problem is. Be a neighbor. Find out what would help from THEIR viewpoint. Love.
You get the idea. It’s OUR JOB to do it. There is no “they”. And when you say “they” should fix it, you are creating a massive vacuum into which mafia type individuals gladly insert themselves.
We have a precious, precious democracy which requires, REQUIRES citizen participation. At any time in your life, if someone asks you, “What are you working on for the community?” you should be able to answer with something like, “Getting corruption out of law enforcement” or “Fixing the DMV” or “Beautification and increased walking opportunities for my neighborhood”. Pick a topic. Any topic. And just begin. Create a committee or group. Make time for it every week.
And no, just posting on social media is not enough. You have to actually DO something.
As Americans, we have to do several things:
1. Be kinder to one another. The hate that right wing politicians and right wing media teach and exhibit can no longer be any part of our public conversation. No, it was NOT your neighbor’s laziness that got us here. Stop doing that.
2. Get involved. Pick a topic. DO something. It is going to take all of us. Be accountable. Take responsibility, personally.
3. Speak out proudly: After Vietnam, media got Americans to think protesting was “gauche”. That speaking out on politics was unbecoming. That “they” would handle it. You see how far this got us. Stand up. Speak out. Join a protest. Find a protest “buddy”. Build a sign. Write letters. Call your congresspeople. DO IT. Do it every month. Get off the couch.
4. Younger folks must engage: This is the first generation in history of young people who simply never showed up to be mentored. Their outrage on how the system worked, unable to understand the rules of the road or their part in creating these rules, was evident in 2016. I am hopeful that many are now showing up, putting down the game console, getting off the couch and participating. They have to work harder, much harder, at making participation “cool” again, and bring more people into the fold. They must be mentored at how to run the country, so we ‘grey hairs’ can rest. I eagerly await your sage leadership and organization efforts.
5. We must all work harder to get to know our neighbors. Join your community organization and go to meetings. Hold events. Do a block party. What ever it takes to engage the people behind those doors. Become a force to be reckoned with.
6. Did I say, “Be kinder”? Reach out, right within your neighborhood. Is there a shut in who would love an occasional visit? Or an elderly or disabled neighbor who needs some yard work or minor plumbing done? Your loving touch could be the very thing that allows this person to stay in their home. A leaky faucet that makes the water bill unbearable has caused many an elderly person to have to move to assisted living. Find a way to help and then do it.
There is much more but this is a good start.
Just as the people of 1700’s New England chose to take a stand against a greedy rule at the start of our democracy, so, now, we must take a stand to save our world. This does not involve taking up muskets or warring with one another. It is a much more powerful force. The force of love. The force of intellect. The force of involvement. The force of community.
These are much more powerful than a musket. Our very earth depends upon our success. Let’s get started today.