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11/03/2017 — Leave a comment

Last evening, we heard a David Brooks lecture nearby that confirmed our appreciation for what he says and how he says it. We’re big fans. He gave a preview of his next book, an assessment of, among other things, what needs to happen to make it through our current “slough of despond” to our next phase as a culture and community. As usual, he draws a compelling conclusion based on solid history and analysis, and delivered with humor and accessibility.

The “we’re all in this together” generation that fought and emerged humbled from World War II yielded in the 60s to the “free to be you and me” generation that in the 80s and 90s spawned the “what does anything mean?” generation. We parents said “be free” and “go be you.” Be free to do what, exactly? They are yearning to know who they are; they are lonely and unconnected to institutions and beliefs of the past. And it’s not their fault. The imperative for their futures is to become embedded in communities, causes, relationships that they will commit to and build their lives in and around.

Brooks says he now understands that the 2016 election wasn’t about the usual big government/small government issue that has characterized the essence of the Democratic and Republican philosophies since forever. 2016 was about the growing gap between those who are relatively globalistic, progressive, forward-looking and technology-enabled (generally college-educated) and others who are relatively protectionistic, reactionary, tradition-bound and technology-phobic (generally high-school educated). I sensed this schism as early as the 80s in Silicon Valley as I participated in building the new world and read on the news about the dissolution of the steel and other industries in the rust belt. The divided forces of progress and regress were catalyzed by Trump, for and against, and in the end, guess what? A wrinkle in our election rules, which are unlike any other country’s election rules, allowed the underdogs to carry the day. (I mean here the combined impact of generations of gerrymandering, the edge effects of the electoral college system, and the aggregated disenchantment of lots and lots of voters, for a variety of reasons.)

New communities need forming based on new ideas about proximity. Who is my friend and neighbor? After 42 years of moving, staying awhile, and moving on, from one coast to the other and then to the middle, my wife and I are only really proximate, connected and committed, to people and groups that are far away, Facebook friends and family, and not the next-door neighbors. But I remain optimistic about it all. Recent tragedies, man-made and nature-borne have shown every time that people do feel connected, that they will create, almost instantaneously, communities of help and support, where none existed minutes before. At the crucial moments, we are suddenly all in this together, again.

I cried when the country elected JFK over Ike’s man Dick Nixon. It’s true; I was thirteen and a lifelong Republican, or so I thought. The Democrats got lucky again when we elected their Georgia peanut farmer, (although he turned out more than OK as an ex-President), and later, a glad-handing, wanna-please-everybody, philanderer who just kept […]

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The Prodigal Sons – NYTimes.com.

Great commentary brought to you by my man David Brooks, Tim Keller, and the Gospels. A lesson for our time.

If I’m going to spend a perfectly good couple of hours watching a “presidential primary debate,” I want a debate…on actual issues. About the only thing I agree with Newt about is that the opening question for this week’s debate in South Carolina was inappropriate. The moderator apparently forgot where he was, mistaking a presidential debate for a talk news show…or did he?

The Republicans want to take us back to some other time, long ago and far away. You know, when everybody was, or wished they were, evangelical Christians, with family values, 2.5 kids and a Chevy in the garage. Never mind that hidden away to be dealt with in another time were American society’s cancers: divorce and its impact on the very idea of family; child and various other forms of abuse of the innocent; injustices against a wide range of minorities and the real “silent majority,” women; and poverty.

What I want to see is a candidate who recognizes that America is undergoing radical transformation as it absorbs and assimilates massive numbers of immigrants. The parallels between these years and the time between 1890 and 1920 are awe-inspiring. Just different ethnic groups.

Maybe the Republicans really do get this and are just afraid to say anything for fear of offending…anybody. Maybe they are thinking that preserving long-standing American character values is job #1 as our population swells with new minds who need educating about what we stand for, or stood for.

But I doubt it. By their own statements and positions, Republicans make it clear they are out of touch and out for ratings. They and the mainstream media make excellent bedfellows.

I cried when the country elected JFK over Ike’s man Dick Nixon. It’s true; I was thirteen and a lifelong Republican, or so I thought.

The Democrats got lucky again when we elected their Georgia peanut farmer, (although he turned out more than OK as an ex-President), and later, a glad-handing, wanna-please-everybody, philanderer who just kept on philandering. And they had Gary Hart, and Dukakis.

I voted Republican in every election except 1980, when I got behind fellow Illini John Anderson. I mean, really, a movie star…from California!?

But now, I can’t believe the Republicans are so transparently disingenuous, so obviously obfuscatory, so clearly obstructionist to stand in the way of progress, of moving ahead, of making needed changes happen for the 21st century.

I’m done, through, over it.

This year, I supporting anyone who will throw the Tea Party-ers out of Congress, just so we Americans can keep building momentum and making new laws that will propel us out of the past and into this century.

I’m for:

  • Healthcare reform that will give our kids and their kids longer and healthier lives without dissipating their wealth on basic services or neglecting healthcare altogether until they are too sick be able to be helped. A healthy nation is…a healthy nation!
  • Small business development incentives that encourage entrepreneurs to start new companies, create new jobs, and innovate their way to future prosperity for themselves and everyone else without fear that their government will choke off their success like the way an umbilical cord can end a newborn’s life. Government should be a source and resource of new business life, and not its enemy.
  • Real reform in the financial sector, so that we are not ultimately the victims of acquisitiveness, but its beneficiaries. We may not be able to legislate morality, but we must punish immorality that creates ridiculous disparities between the richest and the rest.

I know that at some level the Democrats are the same as the Republicans. But for these times, I’m for the party of President Obama. Any people who can elect such a man as President, coming against, in one act of national repentance, 400 years of injustice and what we used to think was cultural inevitability, then that people deserves better than the endless, mindless  blundering of the Republicans, and worse, their apparent war on truth.

I just can’t stand it any more. How about you?