Friday, April 25, 2008

No easy answers

As the semester comes to an end, my students are handing in papers where they had to analyze a presidential candidate (history and political platform) and determine, based on the real powers of the office, whether this candidate is making empty promises or suggesting real solutions to the nations problems.

As the students presented their papers to the class yesterday, it was obvious that at least some of them had come to realize just how complicated politics really is. Some of them were coming to the conclusion that party labels and party stereotypes aren't as cut and dried as they had always assumed (or been led to believe) that they were. Others were realizing that the president will need major cooperation from Congress to achieve many of their goals and campaign promises. And some were even coming to the conclusion that their are no easy answers to the problems that face our country. I actually felt good about being a teacher yesterday.

This morning I read an article in WaPo (Running on Sweet Nothings) that is lamenting the emptiness of campaign promises and asks why the candidates continue to lie to us and act like there are easy answers to all of our many problems. I think the answer is fairly simple. The average American believes that there are easy answers to be had and so they expect to be told that those easy answers exist and what the answers are. When someone tries to explain to them that it is a complex process, like Kerry tried to do to some extent last election cycle, they get ridiculed by their opponents for supposedly saying stupid things, like Bush did to Kerry when he tried to explain why he would vote for a bill and then against a bill in the Senate.

In short, Americans tend to be drawn to the KISS approach to most things: Keep It Simple Stupid. Keeping it simple is the best, and possibly only, way to get votes. My hope is that which ever candidate makes it to office this go-around he or she will actually realize that simple answers don't really exist, unlike the one we have in office now. I think the problem with Bush is that he actually believed (and possibly still believes) that those simple answers are out there.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I must be a rare person

I came across a quote today, from Dick Cavett of all people, that really struck a chord with me.
It's a rare person who wants to hear what he doesn't want to hear.
If Dick is right in his assessment, then I guess I am a truly rare person. And I say that because I almost always want to hear what people assume I don't want to hear. Partially it has something to do with my masochistic tendencies, but mostly it is just because I hate not knowing the truth.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Cheryl Sabel for Congress - AL District 2

On Monday I attended the candidate forum here at Troy University. Before attending, I didn't even know who was actually seeking to replace our retiring Congressman. It was a long and painful process to listen to a group of politicians all answering the same questions and most all of them giving the exact same answer.

But one candidate really stood out to me. Her name is Cheryl Sabel and she is running for the Democratic nomination for the 2nd Congressional District here in Alabama. If you are interested in voting for a true progressive Democrat on June 3rd, your only choice is Cheryl Sabel. Check out Cheryl Sabel's website at Cheryl Sabel for Congress

I was amazed at how much Bobby Bright did not sound like a Democrat at all. In my opinion, he is at best an Independent in Democrats' clothing. He basically said that if elected he did not intend to caucus with the Democrats. I believe his exact words were "Nancy Pelosi will not tell me what to do." I can understand that congressional representatives sometimes have to vote against their party to do what is in the best interest of the their district and all that, but a comment like that sounds like it should be coming from a Republican not a Democrat.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Life Lessons - The Golden Rule

Everyone is familiar with the Golden Rule - Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, or in more modern terms, treat people the way that you want to be treated. My recent realization is that one shouldn't take the Golden Rule too literally. From some recent experiences I have determined that people don't want to be treated the same way that you may want to be treated. In fact, most people have a certain perception of how they want to be treated and it has nothing what so ever to do with how you might personally want to be treated. And it may, in fact, not even have any direct correlation to how they say they want to be treated.

And in addition to that, I've recently determined that people often don't like to be treated the way that they treat other people, and I'm not even referring to the way they treat people when they are being rude or unkind. It has often been my observation that people with certain personality types can't stand other people that have their exact same personality type. But I've recently decided that there are people who act very friendly and inviting, but then don't appreciate it (and in fact resent it) when you act the same way in return.

So my take on all of this is that the Golden Rule should probably just be interpreted to mean that you shouldn't do things to other people that you wouldn't want done to you, or put more simply, don't be mean. But you must always remember that most people don't really live by the Golden Rule.