Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category
The passions stirred up by Donald J. Trump’s election and inauguration as 45th President of the United States remind me of the days surrounding Richard Nixon’s election in 1968. Then, it was the anti-Vietnam War students versus the traditionalist hard-hat and Silent Majority. Today, it’s the “progressives” vs. the anti-globalization traditionalists. And, of course, with social media now part of the information mix, all of us are less inclined to be exposed to ideas which aren’t in sync which we’ve already embraced.
The messages of two songs from those days in the 1960’s seem to have continued relevance in these early days of 2017: Buffalo Springfield’s For What It’s Worth notes ” There’s battle lines being drawn. Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong” and ” A thousand people in the street
singing songs and carrying signs. Mostly say, hooray for our side. ” The Youngblood’s Get Together encourages us to “Smile on your brother, everybody get together and love one another right now”.
Simplistic suggestions from a more idealistic time but worth considering, nevertheless.
“Country people tend to consider that they have a corner on righteousness and to distrust most manifestations of cleverness, while people in the city are leery of righteousness but ascribe to themselves all manner of cleverness.”-Edward Hoagland
Could this be a good explanation of what’s been going on in American politics lately?
‘Democrats have their own SuperPAC, it’s called the mainstream media.’- Senator Marco Rubio (October 28, 2015 Republican Presidential Candidate Debate)
Anyone who’s ever worked at one of the broadcast television networks knows that their staffs are composed of a hodgepodge of political (and a-political) opinions. The only agenda is to be relevant and interesting to the 18-49 year old American adults who advertisers yearn to reach. There’s also the news division’s quest, which they take very seriously, for journalistic integrity.
Here’s something to consider. By definition, doesn’t’ “mainstream media” mean that it resonates with the majority of people; the actual mainstream?
Of course, the reason that “mainstream media” is such a tempting target for these politicians and for demagogic radio and TV personalities is that the audiences to whom they are pandering tend to be fringe groups; outsiders who perceive themselves as special, unique and superior to the majority of their fellow citizens. Therefore, media who represent the values and attitudes of those in the mainstream must, somehow, be tainted.
And who, actually, are the “mainstream media”? Are they just the ABC, CBS and NBC television networks and their cable news subsidiaries? Is Fox News a member of the “mainstream media”? What about Facebook and Twitter? One could argue, given their vast audiences and news dissemination services that they also belong in the category of “mainstream media”.
So, the next time you hear someone attack the mainstream media, it might be worth asking yourself exactly which fringe group that person is trying to impress.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way …”
That’s the opening paragraph of A Tale of Two Cities. Seems to me that it’s just as descriptive of today in 2015 as it was 156 years ago in 1859 when Charles Dickens wrote it.
I’ve just “celebrated” my birthday. To be honest, I dreaded more than I celebrated this one.
Of course, I’m grateful that I’m physically healthy and mentally alert at this stage of my life. From my perspective, I’m still a relatively young guy with a significant amount of potential ahead of me. Unfortunately, our society doesn’t see it that way.
That’s one reason why I started the Ambitious Energized Alpha Boomer group on Linkedin. I figure that there have to be more Baby Boomers like me who aren’t ready to submit to being what euphemistically used to be called being “put out to pasture” simply because we’ve passed the arbitrarily selected retirement age of 65.
I do recall that my Victorian Era grandparents acted “old” by the time that they reached their mid-60s. But my Silent Generation dad wasn’t ready to retire when he turned 65.
I recently read “Being Mortal” and that book did pull me up short in terms of the physical and mental limitations which I should expect to arise during my next 20 to 25 years. However, I’m still a believer that a positive but realistic attitude and determination to improve can contribute to one’s longevity and quality of life.
So, my plan is to continue to strive for the opportunity to improve in all aspects of my life and to thwart those societal forces which are determined to limit me. A “Today Is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life” approach.
How about you?
Boy Scouts of America was founded on February 8, 1910.
The BSA is no longer looked upon favorably by some segments of American society. However, I’m grateful that my boyhood experience as a Cub Scout and Boy Scout taught me to Be Prepared. And, even at this stage of my life, I’m still striving to be:
While walking down the street one day a Corrupt Senator was tragically hit by a car and died.
His soul arrived in heaven and was met by St. Peter at the entrance.
“Welcome to heaven,” greeted St. Peter. “Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so we’re not sure what to do with you.”
“No problem, just let me in,” replied the Senator.
“Well, I’d like to, but I have orders from the higher ups. What we’ll do is have you spend one day in hell and one in heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity.”
“Really?, I’ve made up my mind. I want to be in heaven,” said the Senator.
“I’m sorry, but we have our rules.”
And with that, St. Peter escorted him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell.
The doors opened and he found himself in the middle of a green golf course. In the distance was a clubhouse and standing in front of it were all his friends and other politicians who had worked with him.
Everyone was very happy and in evening dress. They ran to greet him, shake his hand, and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at the expense of the people. They played a friendly game of golf and then dined on lobster, caviar and the finest champagne.
Also present was the devil, who really was a very friendly guy who was having a good time dancing and telling jokes.
They were all having such a good time that before the Senator realized it, it was time to go.
Everyone gave him a hearty farewell and waved while the elevator rose.
The elevator ascended up, up, up and the door reopened in heaven where St. Peter awaited him, “Now it’s time to visit heaven…
So, 24 hours passed with the Senator joining a group of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing. They had a good time and, before he realized it, the 24 hours had gone by and St. Peter returned.
“Well, then, you’ve spent a day in hell and another in heaven. Now choose your eternity.”
The Senator reflected for a minute, then he answered: “Well, I would never have said it before, I mean heaven has been delightful, but I think I would be better off in hell.”
So St. Peter escorted him to the elevator and the Senator descended down, down, down to hell…
When he arrived, the doors of the elevator opened and he was in the middle of a barren land covered with waste and garbage. He saw all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags as more trash fell from above
The devil approached and put his arm around his shoulders.
“I don’t understand,” stammered the Senator. “Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and clubhouse, and we ate lobster and caviar, drank champagne, and danced and had a great time. Now there’s just a wasteland full of garbage and my friends look miserable. What happened?”
The devil smiled and replied :
“Yesterday we were campaigning, Today, you voted..”
“In the mid-1880s,…growth of colossal corporations in the aftermath of the Civil War had produced immense, consolidated wealth for business owners, but the lives of the working people…had become increasingly difficult.” In her book, The Bully Pulpit, Doris Kearns Goodwin quotes one of Teddy Roosevelt’s political rivals as observing: “We plow new fields, …open new mines,…found new cities…we add knowledge and utilize invention after invention. (Yet) it becomes no easier for the masses of our people to make a living. On the contrary, it is becoming harder.”
Although America’s unemployment rate has been dropping, long term unemployment remains a major issue. It’s estimated that over a million Baby Boomers are members of the long term unemployed cohort.
More than 15% percent of the approximately thirty-six million Baby Boomers born in the U.S. between 1946 and 1954 are expected to live active, healthy lives into their 90s. Since retirement savings for many of those Boomers were severely diminished during the recent financial crisis, many of them will need to continue working at jobs which are both psychically and financially rewarding well past the traditional 65 year old retirement age. Meanwhile, American businesses including the legal and medical professions are reducing their labor forces through the use of automation and robotics.
To remain a successful capitalist economy, America needs consumers for the goods and services it produces. Although many of American industries’ customers may come from outside of the United States, it will also be necessary for Americans to consume local goods and services. To do so, they will require sufficient incomes.
As columnist Tom Friedman points out, the US needs to rethink its social contracts because labor is important to a person’s identity and dignity as well as to societal stability.
For the country’s future well-being, political and business leaders need to focus not only on helping millennials who are entering the workforce but also on redeveloping the American economy to keep healthy Baby Boomers engaged in jobs which are both psychically and financially rewarding. The challenge will be to create opportunities to unite the natural resources of Boomer experience and expertise with the 21st century skill sets of Millennials.
The centennial of the Civil War was being commemorated in 1962. Nelson Rockefeller was New York’s governor. Racism was matter-of-fact for most white American, whether overt or unconscious. So it took a certain amount of political courage for the Republican governor to select a controversial African-American like Martin Luther King, Jr. to deliver Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
No one had heard Dr. King’s speech for more than 50 years until last Fall when staff members of the New York State Museum in Albany discovered a long forgotten reel-to-reel tape.
You can listen to it here http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/mlk/index.html
Most of the media analysis surrounding the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination has been focused on its impact on journalism and American perceptions about TV in terms of news.
However, I’ve also been struck by how TV helped Americans who were between the ages of 7 and 45 during the “Camelot” years to emotionally connect with the Kennedy family. Vaughn Meader’s comedy album, “The First Family” not only made us laugh at the Kennedy’s but also, because of JFK’s publicly good-natured reaction to it, with them.
CBS Sunday Morning ran a story about JFK’s father, Joseph Kennedy’s plan to market his son for the presidency “like soap”. That story encouraged me to consider the consequences of Joe Kennedy’s marketing campaign and I’ve concluded that its result, to those of us watching, was a message about the ideal family and its values, attitudes, and behaviors.
Jim Stengel, in his book GROW, discusses the concept of the Brand Ideal. According to Stengel , a brand’s success relies on its ability to satisfy one of the following fundamental values: elicit joy, enable connection, inspire exploration, evoke pride, or positively impact society.
The Brand Ideal of Jack and Jackie Kennedy could be described as “a youthful, healthy, intelligent, cultured, loving couple who represented the hopes and dreams for America’s future”. In other words: Camelot. [ Feel free to quibble with this description and its basis for validity. I use it only for the purpose of example.]
The fact that Baby Boomers still revere JFK and Jackie today despite what we’ve learned about their very human flaws and short-comings seems to me to be a testament to how well Joe Kennedy’s marketing of his son worked.