Saturday, April 30, 2022

Part 2 of 2: Citizens MUST Supervise Their Government


Any government needs its citizens to care enough to supervise their politicians--to keep them from screwing things up.
Our government is good and will continue to survive. Instead of being set back by worry, we have to remember in a positive way that the Presidency and government is led by mere persons laden with truly overwhelming demands. 
Presidents Johnson and Nixon were both experienced and successful politicians—one Democrat and one Republican. In their last election, both won by a landslide with 61% of the vote and way more than enough electoral votes. But, concerning the Vietnam war, they failed to follow the wisdom of their best advisors. They failed to respect that after about 1968 public opinion was (1) against the Vietnam war and (2) and our involvement in the first place a serious mistake. Instead of getting out of Vietnam, Presidents Johnson and Nixon misinformed Congress and the American people and escalated the war they had been losing for multiple years.
Just because we know and care doesn’t mean that future presidents, governors and congressmen will avoid the documented mistakes of past governments. 
The most penetrating analysis of the causes of this debacle, so far as I know, is by Daniel Ellsberg in his excellent book Secrets: a memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers (Ellsberg, 2002).
Website is done. Blogging is getting somewhat easier. I’m humble and realistic about what I can accomplish. I'm very pleased with the number of visitors.
Now I’m spending more of my time performing nitty gritty political engagement actions.
  • I try not to annoy friends and family by talking too much about politics. 
  • I’ve sought out several friends who have a lifetime of political involvement and asked for their advice about where to go from here. They’ve helped by providing leads and suggestions.
  • I’ve made a few modest contributions to political influencers. I’ve received back some personal thank-you notes. Also, when I contributed to a candidate in another state whose goals exactly aligned with mine, I received a very nice received a very meaningful email! 
  • I’ve been attending two different monthly political party meetings. These are online. There’s always something to be learned, but I really want the greater emotional engagement from face to face meetings. 
  • A politically savvy friend and I researched the soon to be elected local county commissioners and city council candidates. We’ve done our homework. Some candidates for municipal judge were attorneys, which would make sense. But one candidate did not list any judicial experience. When we vote, we will not be making guesses.
  • The self-interest of the Parties and candidates is important. But just yesterday I learned there are thousands of important self-interest, group interest, and lobbying groups of citizens. I think there’s a big story here which I'm going to investigate. Maybe we'll be discussing this in a future blog. Check out this interesting link:

1. All citizens can get productively involved in politics in some way. I’ve worked professionally with all sorts of disabled persons and those whose rights have been legally limited; these folks also can get more power to their votes. Everyone can decide to do more and have reason to feel good about it. America needs every citizen. We are not at the top of our game, but let’s make progress!
2. Two generally important key ideas are as follows:
  • Dr. Hersh’s Politics Is For Power book emphasizes that we get more voting power by getting more involved socially and being helpful to people. Hersh said, “They earned the votes by showing their neighbors they care about them” (Hersh, 2020). Hersh’s political science research also found that a wide range of unremarkable people became successful influencing others and getting out the vote. I highly recommend reading this book. Very readable and inspiring.
  • Because America is a huge country, it is difficult for citizens to get involved personally with their state and federal legislators. The solution to this difficulty is through what are called “linkages.” For most Americans their linkage to government is through the Republican or Democratic Parties. While they are important, their squabbles and excessive partisanship are a big problem. For myself, I’m going to focus on local issues and local political engagement. Concerning the major political parties, I’m going to consider my one or two most important issues and vote for whichever Party appears compatible with my issues. Remember, the Parties are not obligated in any way to fulfill their election promises!
3. And finally:
  • Keep in front of your mind and heart what you care about, what pains you about government or any politician.
  • Write down one or two specific political issues. For example, income inequality or gun violence or abortion. What grabs your feelings about what should change in government? And for each issue, write down and pin on the wall, exactly the specific actions you want to see occur.
So! You have pain that you care about. You care to supervise your government because you know how fragile is their common sense. Keep a tight grip on you goal, for without it you will lose sight of your own concerns and the paths to solutions.
        For references, see the relevant page on the website.
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