Tag Archives: democracy in america

My Two Americas

It was there in the beginning, the difference was as apparent then as the hope surrounding the birth of a new nation, it simply wasn’t as pronounced.

Reason, enlightenment, and fraternity molded a set of ideals that we held up as trophies to be cherished.  Equality mattered and burdens would not be born alone. Progressive and liberal, these ideals ushered in a democracy that others would strive to emulate.

Juxtaposed against –

A rugged individualism founded upon Exceptionalistic worldviews that could easily become extreme. A conservative aspect, encouraged by the White Man’s Burden and it’s notion that might makes right, God blesses the subordinates, equality is secondary to desire.

Over time, the difference grew more obvious, more acute.

Civil War laid bare the disparity between Liberal and Conservative, opened the chasm, leaving a scar that still bleeds, still pulls at the slightest movement forward.

Great Depression drew stark boundaries between rich and poor, business and government, religion and democracy.

Civil Rights movements shattered any facade of achieved unity and drew lines in the social sand that a tidal wave of human compassion can not seem to erase.

Great Recession exasperated the breech between the haves and have nots.  Liberal notions of regulation and accountability conflicted with Conservative strains of government interference and free market religions.

Twin Tower catastrophe and solitary terror incidents test our resiliency. Democratic liberal trust sprinkled with caution is at odds with the Conservative instinct towards closure,  induced and fed by fear.

Today’s instant news, not always dressed in truth, allows identities to manifest reflexively, extinguishing the muse of compromise and equality so that Liberals are become heathens while Conservatives claim the only corner of righteousness.

Progress is deemed evil when static policy would rather prevail.

American dream, invented upon the foundation of unbridled  brotherhood, rendered a chimera under the influence of reactionary poses.

Liberal and Conservative.  My two Americas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Deathbed

There’s not much we can do.

You and I can only wait at this point.

All chances of a healthy outcome have passed,

This is the end, this is the time to begin mourning.

We try and prepare, make certain that our

own houses are in order.

It is difficult, we don’t know what awaits us

when She’s gone.

There are the quiet whisperings of

those gathered round the bed:

“Wasn’t she beautiful in her prime?”

“Remember that time when…..”

“She was the top of her class.”

Respectful admirations morph into

consoling observations as we struggle

to find a way to justify Her fall.

“She was bewitched by all that money,”

Someone said.

“It’s true,” agreed another and then,

“But there were those who were out to

get Her deliberately, She didn’t have a chance.”

This statement weighed heavy in the room,

we all knew it was precise.

With nothing left to say, we watched Her breathe

and knew that as Her death approached, so did the

death of life as we knew it.

We reflected, each to our own, about how we could have

changed things, what we would have done differently,

where we were lazy.

And each to our own, took a portion of responsibility

for the ending Her life.

Outside, the dogs of greed bark and yip

excitedly at the smell of Her imminent death.

They too, have been waiting but with

a different aspect.

Knowing Her power is nearly snuffed out,

They are anxious to overrun our towns

and de-civilize our streets.

Their increased energy is felt inside

the room of Her deathbed.

A quiet sob breaks from among one of the visitors,

As it’s noticed that Her breathing has become labored,

Not much longer.

If we say goodbye now, can She hear it?

If we tell Her we love Her, will She sense it?

If we say we’re sorry, so very sorry for Her demise,

will She forgive us?

We do it anyway, mostly to succor ourselves.

Because watching Democracy die is deeply painful,

and the grief that awaits when She does, even more so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Women’s March: Just a Start

I was in Chico, California, home of my university Alma Mater.   A few hundred were expected, a couple of thousand showed up, as was typical across the US and the world.march

I marched for several reasons:

As a historian I marched because I see the possibility of past tyranny becoming a present reality for our nation.  This worries me deeply.

As a mother I marched because I have three sons.  I desire a peaceful future for them and their children.  I wish for them to have the opportunities I had as a young adult (chances are they won’t get them, but I will still fight for them).   I want them to know that democracy isn’t about just voting, it’s about making your voice carry to the oval office.  And my voice along with millions of others did carry into the very core of our nation, manifested by this morning’s tweets.

As a citizen, I marched to be another warm body among the sea.  I marched to add one more voice to the chant “Rise up”.  I marched to demonstrate support for my fellow citizens who’s lives have been marginalized by our current President.

I marched because democracy is a gift, and we must work sometimes to keep it.

It was empowering.

When I got home and opened my Twitter and Facebook accounts, I was met by pictures and stories of people from all over the world who joined in and made it perfectly clear:  This is what democracy really looks like.    This is solidarity.  These are people who will not sit idly like a frog in the proverbial boiling water, instead they will jump out at the first sign of danger and warn the rest who might not notice the change.

The next four years can be a long time or a short time, but they will absolutely be a time wherein we must engage in our democracy as never before.  May the Women’s March and it’s peaceful tone be the first step, just the start, in this process.

There is work to do, fellow citizens.   Let’s get about doing it.

Yours,

Frankie

 


Civil Grief

There was a time when we could count on civility.  There was a moment in our history when we could actually respect another’s opinion, maybe even weigh it against our own with no harm, and then move on without a grudge, without name calling, without hostility.   We enjoyed a rare exhibit of humanity when an election was over;  when the people had spoken, we accepted the outcome and went on with our lives, knowing that the constitution and reasonable compromise would prevail.  I was taught this in school and in church, and it was exemplified by my elders and former national leaders.

It’s become increasingly apparent that civility is a lost quality in our nation.  This should concern us all.

It began with the election of the current president and a remark from a senator that the commander-in-chief would only get ‘one term’.   It gained momentum when the house speaker in charge couldn’t (or wouldn’t) lead his cabal and a power play over the national budget suddenly became evening news fodder.   It culminated when a law, upheld by the checks and balances of the supreme court, was repeatedly voted upon for repeal (or parts of the law as some would clarify – either way, the inability to accept the high court’s decision  has marred our national landscape).

It continues with this election cycle.  We have witnessed some atrocious behavior towards one another.   We don’t respect each other’s opinion, instead we resort to name calling and vitriolic attacks on friends and family.   This isn’t civility, it’s anarchy.  This isn’t democracy, it’s tyranny.  This isn’t respect, it’s cynicism.

We.  Are.  Better.  Than.  This.

I understand there is fear, but there is peace with unity.  I get that there is lack of integrity, but we can have great confidence in reason.

We will elect a new leader tomorrow.  May we honor the votes, honor our democracy, and come together again at the end of the competition, under one flag, under one ideal and move forward once more as one –  because without civility, we  can no longer claim to uphold the torch of democracy and the “American Dream”.  We cannot exclaim that we are exceptional.

E pluribus anum.

Yours in peace,

Frankie

 


Impotent Nation

Yesterday,  I wrote a little blurb about taking a step back for a minute in the wake of all the recent shootings.  I spoke about letting reason overcome our fears and that there is room for compromise and discussion.   Yet as I typed those words, and even hoped for their fruition, I realized that we probably won’t allow ourselves the opportunity to discuss and listen and come to a middle ground, we’ll most likely continue down this path of shouting matches and shooting matches until we destroy one another.  We’ve been rendered impotent you see, unable to discuss and engage, unwilling to lay down perceived notions and take up another for even a second.   As a democracy we are currently unreachable and unteachable.   I hold the Koch brothers, our current President, and our 111th and 112th congress entirely, utterly responsible.

A nation is only as good as its leaders and our leaders have robbed us of the ability to have any sort of national discussion about anything.    Consider Mitch McConnell’s message that we need to make sure President Obama is only a one term president (I know there are arguments over the ‘context’ of this comment, I’m not buying them.  Actions, in this case, back up the literal interpretation of the statement, I’m inclined to believe that he meant exactly what he said.)  There’s been time after time the past eight years where congress has not just failed to communicate, they’ve refused to communicate altogether.  President Obama’s unwillingness to open up the TransPacificPartnership for examination makes an absolute mockery of the democratic process for which our soldiers ostensibly fight.

During the writing of the Magna Carta, in the aftermath of the storming of the Bastille, when the forefathers of the United States meted out a document intent on keeping a balance of power and enabling democracy – compromise, not stubbornness, led to growth and vitality.   Enlightenment, openness,  and opportunity guided the ideals and produced healthy nations that went on to become world leaders.  To the shame of our democracy, we currently witness political leaders on both sides of the aisle who blatantly and very publicly refuse to bear the burden of their democratic duty and moral responsibility of engaging in public discourse.     They are goaded thusly, thanks to secret meetings comprised of Wall Street’s elite of the elite where strategy sessions for the best way to gain and keep control of the government include this very  notion of an uncooperative spirit. (See Jane Mayer’s most recent work, “Dark Money,” Doubleday, New York, 2016). The results have manifested themselves in the form of a stagnate economy and an obviously broken society.

So while I wrote with hope and an admittedly idealistic tone, I lamented with each letter and form of punctuation.   I fear we are too far gone.  I am deeply concerned that we’ve already dug our heals in considering the actions of our leaders who have proven to possess an inordinate inability to engage and compromise, and accounting for the echoing sentiments of the ‘us vs. them’ narrative ubiquitous on social media the past several hours.

Today, I write about a new hope.  I hope that I am mistaken about my conclusion.   I  hope we haven’t crossed some point of no return and we can muster the strength to empathize. But if the last decade of leadership and our own reaction to these most recent events is any indication, we are now an impotent nation with regards to conversation and meeting in the middle, and my hope is in vain.

May I be proven wrong….

Frankie

 


First Perhaps, Not Best However

You are the first, but you are not our best.  I know this with certainty, there are others with greater integrity and deeper loyalties – it is difficult to miss them among your repute.

You deliver promises from a podium and smile kindly at the masses.  I see a facade, I watch body language, I follow the money. Your words and warmth are alien compared to your deeds and transactions.

You have shattered a ceiling, but you have not fooled me.  I watched you keep the one who betrayed you so you could break that glass.  In doing so you betrayed yourself and each of your sisters, including your own daughter.

You may have seen this coming a long way off, for you have planned, colluded, devised, manipulated, coerced, and twisted yourself into this role. Methinks it looks like Cinderella’s shoe forced upon the foot of one of the ugly stepsisters: contorted, deformed, repulsive.

You will revel in the moment, claim a solid victory, and think the world astounded.  But history will bring justice and reality will reveal:  The moment is artificial.  The victory, merely a shell – like a hollow chocolate bunny.

I cannot concede this milestone, it is marred and scarred with the illness of selfish motives.    It is clouded from the pollution of the process you employed.  It is weighed heavy with the baggage you bring.   It is tainted by your dishonesty and false propositions.

You may be first, but we are not a better nation for it.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Two Documents: Only One Choice

The Fallout.

By that I mean all the noise of discussions occurring in the wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling for marriage equality.

In the balance, it seemed, a contention between our Constitution and the Christian bible. One creates a framework within which our society has agreed to operate, the other creates a framework for a set of spiritual  beliefs.

In the end, only one document could triumph.

In the balance, it seemed, a contention between equal rights as mandated by our founding document, and a religious restriction mandated by a dubious text.  In the recent past, during a time when the idea of equality for all mankind was becoming the basis for instituting governments, our founding document was carefully constructed by a group of men intent on shaping a nation where equal rights as humans was celebrated and paramount – creating a democracy where not just voting was established as a right, but affirming that the very trait of being human grants us equal footing in the law and access to opportunities.  In the far far past, during a time when bleeding was thought the best thing in medicine and something called ‘the humors’ dictated a physician’s approach to sickness, a group of men gathered at the command of a clever ruler to collate ‘the bible’ into a cohesive religious document so as to unite his kingdom.  One document exists in its pure form, un-edited, un-tainted and is intended to stand objectively – regardless of one’s personal belief.  One document exists with omissions and editions, its content is wholly subjective to the point of dictating one’s personal belief.

In the end, only one document could triumph.

When the fallout noise settles down, I hope we can remember this at the end of the day:  only one document could triumph in this instance, and it does so to guarantee the right to belief in the other – or not.

May we celebrate our independence and democracy this weekend with grateful hearts.

Yours, Frankie


Two Votes for Democracy! America, You’re Doing it Right….

This week, two big, huge, major, incredibly far-reaching Supreme Court decisions provide perfect examples of the discussion I began the other day with regards to the dual meaning of Democracy:

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Gay Marriage Nationwide

US Top Court Backs Obamacare

This particular meaning of democracy establishes equal rights for us as human beings simply because we are all well, human, and regardless of economic circumstances or gender of partner, we all deserve access to healthcare and recognition in the institution of marriage.   The Supreme Court’s rulings uphold the democratic ideals of ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,’ and consequently allow us to appreciate our democracy to the fullest extent of its meaning.  Way. To. Go.

Yours, Frankie