The ways in which we measure, reconcile, come to terms with and accept the consequences of events, stimuli and otherwise are, in their depths, relatively rudimentary in nature. Today was better/worse than yesterday. That person is more/less attractive than that other person. The Civil War was more/less brutal than the Vietnam War. Sweetness versus sourness. Love versus hate. Apathy versus empathy. Relativity acting as compass in all situations and at all times.
The comparisons and juxtapositions drawn are never all that far-sighted, either. Close relatives in the memory banks, with slight incursions from more distant pasts, interacting and informing our perspectives and concepts of value more quickly than we can even truly recognize en media res – while in the thick of Kairos. And, in those moments when we do recognize our minds at work, the experience can be relatively confusing. Puts a normal person off-kilter in a way.
Perhaps one of our great, understated weaknesses as a specie is our collective inability to see the forest for the trees.
Today is President’s Day. One could say this is a good 24-hour period to devote to honest and informed reflections regarding the presidents have had along the way, and those that have had us, for that matter. Every four years President’s Day will fall within a Presidential Election Year as it does today, and might be slightly more critical to observe than in other years.
Suffice it to say that my own reflections have not been all that light-hearted or even palatable today.
Where we have been, where we are and where we’re headed are matters that should evoke at least a slight, healthy malaise and dissatisfaction in the average American, but does too rarely. It being this particular day of observance, let’s take a look at a President of America’s past, then one of the present, and ultimately the question mark of one of the future.
November 22nd, 1963
On November 22nd, 1963, one of the greatest champions of our constitution, our rights and the people at large was shot down. John Fitzgerald Kennedy offers a helpful insight into where we were and how we have ended up where we are today. He and others at that time were fighting against forces that were unknown to the average American, hidden or obstructed by smoke and mirrors of one variety or another.
I like to think if JFK, or someone like JFK, stepped into office a decade earlier – closer to the end of World War Two – that the world would be a much different place. That our nation would have been far quicker to the punch with and driven toward substantive progress in matters such as the Civil Rights movement. That we would not be spending more on the military than the next 10 countries do on theirs combined. That JFK would still be alive, or at least deceased more recently and from natural causes somewhere near Nantucket Island.
The first problem of JFK as an entity – as is so often the case – was the timing of it all. The Cold War and Red Scare had beaten certain beacons of progress into submission. Fear had already been a common method of control for hundreds of years before this point, but the tools necessary to leverage it at scale were finally beginning to break through in the telecommunications sector.
This apparatus building toward one of the greatest machines of control, through fear or whatever fodder those at the helm saw fit for the project at hand, in the history of the world. Not only enabling the control of the information viewed and digested by the people, but being able to disseminate that carefully constructed information to a much larger audience.
No one in the general population knew who was pulling the strings of the news cycle, no true accountability or even light knowledge of its mechanics, yet this strange and almost natural trust in the stories being spewed. Sound familiar?
While that looming giant was taking shape, the world first saw its true never-ending state of war. Border wars everywhere. Communism versus Democracy, or State-Run Economies versus Capitalism, depending upon how you want to slice it. Communists backing one side of a civil war, the West supporting the opposite, locked in a perpetual tango of extreme violence and unfathomable loss of life, liberty and happiness. All in the name of territorial and economic superiority.
Skirmishes and sadistic games driven by the perspectives of certain leaders who thought these events and activities were cash crops of sorts. Everyone needs guns and bombs and bandages when everyone is at war. Depose the peaceful leaders to spike profits in the fourth quarter and make sure the nation is at least mostly behind the decision by any means necessary. Infiltrate the United Nations or watchdog and advocacy groups to obliterate the revenue ceiling decades down the road. Thicken those margins, keep the cash flowing. Instigate. Feed the machine until it vomits up 24-carat gold that is still soft enough to manipulate further.
Sixteen years or so after end of World War II, this particular machine was already close to being impenetrable. So interwoven, resilient and morally fucked that pulling threads in hopes of revealing the truths hidden deep below would not yield much fruit. Some threads, when pulled, would likely reveal and even more complex challenge, acting similarly to a security software with artificial intelligence.
Enter the mighty Cape Codder. A man who could speak for the people and in a way that the people understood all at once – a rare skill at best. No fear or concern despite taking hard lines on the well-guarded machinery of our society right off the line. No hesitation, but rather reckless abandon that must have been derived from the core of his being. The inability to not take action against what he had learned in the early days of his Presidency, about what the world actually was, and what America’s place in it involved.
First, Kennedy got his brother involved in the U.S. Department of Justice, knowing full-well the types of people the young Robert Francis Kennedy would go after – the mob and any entities that perpetuated corruption, theft and manipulation against the American people: Disorienting and dissembling the apparatus that fraudulently and viciously dictated everyday life on smaller scales.
Second, Kennedy worked to bring the Military-Industrial Complex’s true face to the public to stand trial for its crimes, digressions and generally heinous existence: Dissembling and destroying the apparatus that fraudulently and viciously dictated everyday life on the largest of scales.
Then, there is the matter of voting rights. We all know that JFK was a staunch supporter of the Civil Rights movement, but his brother was even more outspoken regarding voting rights in the long run.
The long and short of it is that JFK and his brother were working to tear the powers that had usurped control from the American people. In the same motion, they were striving to place the control and power back into the hands of the American people, where it was constitutionally endowed just short of two centuries earlier, through any means necessary.
The way we remember it, though is obscured by the mindless and fictional pseudo-histories pedaled by the Great Machine itself, whether consciously or not, and whether backed by a few or the system at large.
In doing so, JFK had to directly attack the Military-Industrial Complex, the mob, and the “Shadow Government” at large.
Suffice it to say that did not go too well for him or his brother. Not only were they both assassinated, as the facts of the events that occurred were also dragged through the muck in the years following. The Warren Report, what it stood for, which interests its authors were abiding and its ultimate decision to place blame solely on Lee Harvey Oswald, was a farce at best and, at worst, one of the worst lies ever told to the American people by its government. You do not have to read much of it to identify the inconsistencies, idiocy and madness contained therein.
JFK ultimately failed in his endeavors. Perhaps it was because his opposition’s momentum was simply too great to be curtailed at that particular point in time, nearly 53 years ago. The American people then failed JFK in not demanding more justice, but was still very much steered by the whims of the national media and puppet masters above it. Today, the same battle JFK waged still awaits the informed populace upon which our democracy relies.
Let’s flash forward a bit.
January 20th, 2009
Barack Obama ran on a platform of change, hope and social uprising. Of justice that was a long time coming but never truly gained traction. Of fulfilling the duties of government in ways that no other before him, save a couple exceptions, had done.
In many ways, he’s achieved incredible victories, especially in terms of fulfilling his original campaign promises. National health care – despite being a mess – was passed in the form of the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act. Same-sex marriage is now a national right. These are not to be underestimated.
However, there are plenty of promises he did not fulfill and likely will not, and it is somewhat comical that so many relate to the economy and, without much stretch of the imagination, the Military-Industrial Complex. Guantanamo remains opened for business. Our activities in the Middle East and elsewhere have transformed, but not truly diminished. Drone strikes that regularly kill innocent bystanders.
He even reviewed and went along with an activity that could be viewed as one of the greatest, most wide-reaching violations of our most basic constitutionally dictated rights in the National Security Agency’s PRISM surveillance program. After the activities came to light, he defended them furiously, forcing Edward Snowden deeper underground and further from the very people he selflessly endeavored to enlighten. And he remains far away as an enemy of the state.
So, with any president, JFK, Obama or otherwise, there are wins and there are losses. However, not since JFK has the world seen a true champion of hope, of the people, and of the U.S. Constitution.
And now, a look ahead to our choices for the next Commander in Chief.
November 8th, 2016
In roughly nine months, we will elect our next President of the United States of America, or at least some of us will get involved, and maybe the popular vote will actually triumph. Currently, the frontrunners are Hilary Clinton on the Democratic National Committee’s side, and none other than Donald Trump on that of ye Grand Ol’ Party. And ain’t they grand?
The world is undoubtedly watching in horror as a massive portion of a powerful nation’s population supports some caricature of a morally bankrupt car salesman from the 1920s. A man who speaks like an entitled infant and with an air of self-satisfaction while fear-mongering, ostracizing millions of our own citizens and exponentially more abroad, and lying at every turn.
On the other side, there is a woman whose greatest differentiating campaign concept is that it is time for a woman to run the country. I could not agree with her more on that idea – it has been time for a woman to run this country for a very long time, and it is difficult to wait any longer without feeling some pangs of injustice and self-hatred. However, electing the wrong person into office on account of that person’s gender does not translate to progress or equality. It is rather another surface-level drop in an endless river of deceitful manipulation and political posturing.
One of the driving, fundamental points of the Feminist Movement, insofar as I can tell, is not to view every woman more favorably than ever man no matter who the individual is, what circumstances surround the decision or which repercussions might occur down the road. It is to view both on equal grounds, as equals, and make decisions based on the knowledge and understanding that we are all indeed human beings, and gender, race, creed or otherwise do not make us inherently good, bad, wrong or right.
Surely our backgrounds, genders and other classifications act as a source of identity, and important ones at that, but they are not unabridged and neatly packed definitions of who we truly are.
Where Trump is a radical wart on the ass of the GOP’s historical story line, Hilary is more so another candidate that falls perfectly into the category of establishment politics, and that has nothing to do with her gender, but everything to do with whether or not you choose to vote for her. Look through her campaign donors at some point, as well as her track record. Again, the fact that we have not had a woman president yet is a disgrace, but not a substantive reason for voting one way or another.
Now, when looking at Trump versus Sanders, things get a bit interesting. Both are running on platforms that rabidly defy establishment politics, and even their own parties. It should not be all that surprising that the GOP and its media apparatus have waged open war against Trump, as he does not seem to fall in line as much as the other candidates, nor uphold the strange brand it exudes.
As a brief note, I do find it somewhat comical that so many Republican candidates have consistently declared that they are bastions of the constitution and our rights therein and in the same breath argued that our laws should align with the fraudulent interpretations of the Bible. The GOP brand is laughable, and the people in charge should probably go back to school.
Then, you have Sanders. All of his campaign finance and support derived from a grassroots campaign that stands alone in the annals of American history. Never before has a presidential candidate worked on this type of platform, and subsisted off of small donations from such a large number of individuals. In defying the norm for campaign finance, he also defied the DNC. And, the DNC did not take this rebellious activity lightly.
Instead, the DNC scheduled six debates, several of which on weekend nights, and against the pleas of the Sanders campaign to host more. One might even begin to think that the DNC, knowing Bernie’s greatest challenge was his lack of name-recognition, went relatively far to keep Clinton in a leading position.
Nonetheless, Sanders has built a large following, won a vote in New Hampshire, came within millimeters of a victory in Iowa, and marches on. An organized and serious campaign of the people, the political revolution he continuously says our nation needs so dearly. The crest that you first see before measuring the massive wave of change lingering underneath the mainstream noise.
Pandering aside, opinions repressed down a bit deeper, this particular election is inarguably an important on for the United States, her citizens, and the entire world at large. Hopefully we will make the right decision. Unfortunately, it might be a pipe-dream to believe we will.
The differences between this round’s candidates are too polarized to ever work in concert toward common goals. To make a nation for the people and by the people actually work in practice, the common goals must first be established and agreed upon, and objectives realized.
Then, and only then, can the visions of each begin to reach some balance through the tackling of micro-causes, ventures, needs and desires. Working as a unit does not mean every individual piece needs to be flowing in the same exact directions at all times forever. Friction, disagreement and clashing of perspectives are the foundation of innovation, progress and improvement.
But the noise is too loud, and the hands controlling the dials too far removed from those who are forced to listen, or inspired enough to lend an ear.
The segregation of our nation is far different today than it was when JFK had the presidency, and more incendiary in many ways. With so many supporting Trump and Sanders, for example, with those two candidates having the starkest differences in morals, beliefs, visions, inspirations and otherwise, trying to find a common ground will be even more difficult. But we must.
Why this Election?
It is easy enough to prove that every election – local, state and federal – is important. It is also easy enough to prove that every moment in history had its own paramount stature in the grander scheme of things. However, the current crossroads at which we stand is a bit more extreme in its potential pathways and outcomes than many of those in the past. Robert Frost’s conundrum seems simple at this point.
We are facing economic, climatic and social evolution at a massive scale and at breathtaking speeds. The repercussions of fraud, silence, apathy and gluttony have never been clearer than they are right now. Now it is a matter of either nipping the very public and clear problems in their respective buds, or allowing the festering to continue even just a little bit longer and falling back eons as a result.
At the same time, the polarization of candidates is at a peak, both within the RNC and DNC and between the parties. The options on the table refreshing in their novelty, but still unfortunately polarized.
On this President’s Day in 2016, reflecting on our decisions in elections of the past and where those votes left us is critical. Fourteen days until Super Tuesday. Roughly 150 days until the Republic and Democratic National Conventions. Two-hundred and sixty-six days until the general elections. Less than a year until the next inauguration.
Can we overcome the modern segregation of our ideologies, beliefs and lives? Part of me hopes that this is one of those evil but necessary moments in our nation’s history, acting as a memory that does not allow us to forget the trials, tribulations, failures and successes of histories from further back along the timeline.
A conduit that transmits the truths and awakenings of the distant and nearby pasts directly into the bloodstream of our current selves, and those of the future. The deep collective breath before a resounding crescendo. Similar to those final steps of a particularly difficult marathon, which are so horrific they essentially hide the finish line right up o’er yonder.
I would have to argue that this election matters more than those of the past on account of how much information is now available to the masses. So much knowledge is openly available, and sometimes even shoved in our faces whether we like it or not. This means we no longer have the option or security of pleading ignorance – the Eyes of the World have been opened plenty wide. Light research will reveal the current state of affairs in all of its complex, grueling chaos.
What we do with that information and knowledge is now squarely on our shoulders, rather than those who once controlled awareness with greater consistency and success. And, it all boils down to how we approach our decisions.
Will we live by those same rudimentary measurements of our collective existence? Will we continue to fail to see the forest for the trees? Or will we take one of the biggest steps toward actual progress by simply putting the effort in to be informed, and make our decisions on November 8 accordingly?
Whichever candidate ends up as our next President, the greatest hope I have is that this election will leave us more united as a people, despite the constant efforts of most candidates and the two main parties to pull us apart at the seams. That we will begin to take our constitutional responsibilities a bit more seriously, and demand our rights be upheld more loudly.
That we will no longer stand by as war is waged on the poor and defenseless, the terra is scorched and destroyed beyond repair, and the self-serving, greedy remain in comfortable control.
All in all, I suppose we shall see how this all plays out. I’ll leave you with one of my personal favorite speeches from a POTUS of America’s past, THE Mister President himself, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Happy President’s Day.