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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Mr. President, What Big Ears You Have

I'm afraid that our nation's only hope no longer rests at all in its elections, but rests in an unprecedented event that would occur between election day in 2016 and Inauguration Day of 2017. Sometime between those two days we need a big bad wolf to commandeer the White House and to lay waiting in the Lincoln Bedroom, disguised as President Obama of course, for the next President elect to arrive. And when that person arrives and gets around to asking the wolf what big ears he has. The wolf can answer: 'The better to hear everyone with.' And with that, the big bad wolf can lock the President elect up with Obama and take over the President's elect 4 year term. And after those 4 years, we can decide on whether we should either keep the big bad wolf as President or let Obama and the President elect come out of the closet.

The moral of this story is that the qualities we most need in our next President and all other elected officials is that of wanting and being able to listen. But here, I am not just referring to having a President putting up with listening to us people moan and groan. Included with that is for the next President to listen to us as we provide at least half of the solutions to our nation's problems.

See, every election we say we want change. We say that we want our nation back. But it beats the heck out of us to figure out who has our nation in the first place and we are too ignorant of history to really know who had it in the first place. And while saying we want change, we still vote in the 2 major parties despite their track record and their dependence on others who are monetarily well-endowed. 

We also say that we want America to be great again. But at what point in our history has America been great without relying significantly on exploiting others? Do we really want to exploit more people to be great when we are in denial of those whom we have already abused and taken advantage of? So how can anyone take us seriously when we say the things we do? 

If our nation was really honest with itself, we would admit the following about what we want with every election. We want to elect officials whom we can ignore until the next election.  For some of us that means that we want our elected officials do not get in the way of our own pursuits in life, many of which are trivial. For others of us it means that we want our elected officials to make it look like they are helping those whom we don't want to touch. 

Of course there are those who want to get as much out of the government as they can. The worst offenders here are the financial elites. They don't fit the voters described above because they don't ignore those whose elections they've paid for. And so we vote for authoritarians to get our wish. Why authoritarians? Because it takes authoritarians to run government without our input and guidance. And if you look at the current field, it is, without exception, filled with authoritarians.

The idea of greater citizen participation was one of the two main messages of Occupy Wall Street (OWS). Certainly OWS wanted to draw attention to the misdeeds of the 1%. But just as much if not more than that was the idea that we wanted more citizens to take an active role in our democracy noting here that democracy is more than just voting every x number of years. The reduction of democracy to just voting is probably one of the biggest reasons why we have the kind of government we have now and that is regardless of the political party in power.

So what we really need from any future President is that he/she would demand that we, the citizens, persistently participate in government in ways in addition to voting. Those candidates who do not call on us to do so are mere authoritarians who are, because of the complexity of the job, ill-equiped to approach the job that way. 

And if we want government to change, we have to change ourselves first. We can no longer vote for the candidates whom we think we can ignore until the next election. We must demand that our next President, as well as all of our other elected officials, include us not just in the identification of problems, but in the finding of solutions. To not change to that means that we could confine ourselves to our own individual pursuits, but it also includes living in a nation on the decline led by a government that exists to serve itself. And that means that eventually, we will not the choices we have today.







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