What America Needs Right Now: 4 Problems With the Stories We’re Getting from Public Officials Who Should Know Better

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Social Commentary

The Dallas Cowboys have a new coach! The New England Patriots hope to hold on to their ‘old’ quarterback. That’s how sports talk in the first week of 2020 might be summarized. Neither team made it to the playoffs so some changes in personnel were expected. This has the sports world buzzing.

In the case of ‘breaking news,’ the unfolding story revolves around Impeachment and Iran. Some are considering the question, which comes first? Based on the news timeline it’s impeachment which started first. But based on public attention it might be a matter of what you think is most important to the country.

With the presidential campaigns taking shape, the next few months are expected to be fast and furious. Candidates face primaries in many States which will help to set the stage for the convention later in the year. Some feel that what America needs right now is a good look at itself. Who are we as a nation?

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More directly, what America needs right now is to clearly see the four problems with the stories we’re getting from public officials who should know better. Otherwise, as citizens we’ll keep being sold a bill of goods. Part of our civic duty is based on a decision of who should represent us in public office. The four problems with the stories being told are:

  1. Integrity and diplomacy are being replaced by ego and disinformation.

We’re on the brink of a new escalation in war-like rhetoric which points back to some decisions. These actions were made less around integrity and diplomacy and more around ego and disinformation. Unlike the ‘NAFTA 2.0’ agreement, the Iran Deal and Climate Accord were scrapped before a new plan was put in place. There’s the obvious explanation that while NAFTA was done under President George W. Bush, the Iran Deal and Climate Accord were done under Obama.

  1. Actions to uphold an oath to the Constitution are being replaced by actions to drive the media cycle.

There’s concern by some as to whether the Senate Impeachment trial will be fair. The subtext to that concern is whether it will be treated as a legitimate pursuit of the facts or simply as a ‘reality show’ drama. It’s as if the oath to the Constitution plays second fiddle to the gamesmanship at hand. Even in the case of the Iran tensions there’s a battle also brewing between our different branches of government.

  1. What’s being said doesn’t always reflect what’s meant.

Our human experience is managed by how we spend the days of the week, weeks of the month and months of the year. This is seen in our calendar of events. Imagine if we’re arguing about whether Monday is really Monday or if January is really January? Our days, weeks and months would have little or no meaning. That’s some of what we have when dealing with explanations from public officials. What’s being said doesn’t always reflect what’s meant.

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  1. Public service based on purpose and honor is being overshadowed by service based on privilege.

There two ways people might approach public service. One is to see themselves as an extension or expression of public good. The other is to see themselves as an extension or expression of a privileged view. We find this back-and-forth battle throughout the annals of America’s history. Where we are today seems to have public service reflecting an upside-down smile emoji.

Some die-hard sport fans see the Cowboys over the years as a team with promise but without a playoff win. They, like other professional teams, have been going around in circles trying to find the right combination of talent, passion and coaching. Well as citizens if we’re not careful, we’ll keep going around in circles too. This might happen if greater promise as a nation gets turned into a skewed form of public service. What America Needs right now is to bring down the rhetoric and slow down the bleed.

Tracks: Post Malone – Circles  – https://youtu.be/wXhTHyIgQ_U

Skip Marley Ft. H.E.R. – Slow Down – https://youtu.be/p4jZKM5Y6-0

Emmy Awards Aside There’s a Tic Toc Feeling in the Air Beyond the Red Carpet Fashions, Around Civic Implosion

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Social Commentary

Another Emmy Awards Gala is in the books and there’re many who’re left holding the bag. The ‘Swag Bag’ that is. In each category there’re a few nominees but only one gets to take home the statue prize. Everyone else at least gets to leave with swag merch that might help them savor the evening.

Among the winners is Jharrel Jerome for lead actor in a limited series category as Korey Wise in the Netflix acclaimed When They See Us. The film tells the story of five Harlem boys who served time after being falsely accused for a crime. The film covers the youthful days and adult journeys of the boys’ life.

Jerome was the only actor to have played both the boyhood and adult roles of a character in the film. He told Hollywood media that he spent time with Wise trying to walk in his shoes. His main takeaway was how Wise spent years behind bars trying to be a better person, even if the media story was the opposite.

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That’s something many can relate to in trying to live their best life or be a better nation. It’s sometimes a toggle back and forth between growing up as a child and adulting-up as a citizen. So Emmy Awards aside for young and old, there’s a kind of tic toc feeling in the air beyond the red carpet fashions, around civic implosion.

As citizens, the current climate in national public affairs is creating its own tic toc, around what seems like a gradual slide from Democracy to ‘Shamocracy.’ It seems as if the political, ethical and civic standards we’re admired for around the world are now being viewed as a sham!

One of the things from America’s history (younger days) and current state of affair (adult ways) that might be holding us back is Ideology. The Founders described in the Constitution’s Preamble “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union.” That was a statement of Ideals not Ideology.

Another thing from America’s history and the current state of affair that might be holding us back is money. The original fights around money was about the size of government and who’d pay for social services. The fight today is about who gets more of it in terms of give-backs for political/social appeal.

In a recent interview Oprah shared why she’s not running for office. But she explained it less as a knock and more as an ‘aha moment.’ She felt candidates should spend more time telling us what they bring and less time on the other person’s ills. Another way of saying it is they should bring a sense of discovery.

Maybe something people admire most in Oprah isn’t just her business acumen but also her integrity. That starts with being true with self. She’s true with self in not trying to run for office when that’s not her. She’s also true with fans about what she went through as a teenager before becoming a global icon.

People world over admire America for its ‘dream factory’ and biz acumen. But this will get overshadowed if our national integrity seems to be slip-sliding away. That may be something the first U.S. president George Washington had back-of-mind when he made a stirring point in his 1796 farewell address.

He said, “The common and continual mischiefs of [party] are sufficient to make it in the interest of duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.” Well if we replace party with Executive Branch, you get the sense his words have broader meaning today. He might see the current state of affair as a sham.

Tracks: Skip Marley ft Damian ‘Jr Gong’ Marley – That’s Not True  – https://youtu.be/Z1NPpxU_BQQ

Sting and shaggy – Just One Lifetime – https://youtu.be/DNobqcfLb2Y

Maxine Waters: No Silent River, Nancy Pelosi: No Political Walkover; But It’s Not Just Them! – #HometownChat

Hot Shot (Old-School): “Real Talk with Industry Players and Biz Leaders”
– Will Smith, Hollywood Actor & Philathropist

Hot Shot (New-School): “Real Talk with Industry Players and Biz Leaders”
– Ne-Yo, Music Producer & Stage Performer

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#HometownChat – “Smart Community, Special Service, Civic Dreams”

Recently there was a flurry of activity around the first 100 days. Some attended rallies or were at a convention and of-course D.C. networking events. In some circles there’s a war of words going on. For one thing, Maxine Waters is no silent river and Nancy Pelosi no political walkover. But it’s not just them!

Waters has been making her voice heard in a very significant way. ‘Queen Maxine’ has made strong statements about governing and the things that lead to communities rising. She’s got cred on the link between public policy and American history, based on her background and work in the trenches.

Pelosi made history years ago by becoming the first female House Speaker. Even as minority leader she’s leading the way as a gut check on things that might become a social train-wreck. For example, she sees the health and well-being of America as not just in taking care of a few but doing so for the many.

In a general sense the public policy debate throughout our history has been like a war for the soul of a nation. The battle these days isn’t just around Constitutional order but between the ‘pissed-off vs. stay-woke’ crowd for the sanity of the nation. This seems to go back and forth throughout America’s history.

In one corner are events around the Civil War. It was a protest flashpoint by those on a path that seemed like a more pissed-off union. In the other are events leading up to and during Civil Rights. It was a flashpoint for those who sought a more perfect union. This cycle shows up and affects us in new ways by:

  1. Challenging our understanding of Articles in the Constitution.
  2. Distorting the message of equality which led to the Emancipation.
  3. Stirring-up resentment on the subject of Immigration.
  4. Building roadblocks to a sense of community and trust in our Institutions.

Every game on the playing field has rules in the books. These rules are important to making sure that teams know what’s in fair play and what’s more like a foul. They help referees and umpires make calls that keep things moving. Without some basic rules a game would be more of an uncontrolled free-for-all.

The major rules of governing are found in the U.S. Constitution. This document has roles and responsibilities for each branch of government. Many public policy issues get tricky by challenging our understanding of these Articles in the Constitution. But things get messy when the rules don’t apply fairly.

That’s what happened after Independence, leading up to and during the Civil War. The Constitution made the slave reference as having three-fifths representation. This led to a distorted view of those Americans. That sentiment along with the Constitutional view of States Rights led to the confederacy spinoff.

But even after the Emancipation there was still public policy that created a ‘Jim Crow’ atmosphere. This prompted rounds of civil disobedience during the Civil Rights era. What we saw with public policy after the Civil War might be happening now after Civil Rights as a ‘new & improved’ version of ‘America in reverse.’

We find times in history where different groups are used as a scapegoat. Back in the day immigrants from some European countries were seen as a threat to American society. Now there’s a new stirring-up of resentment on issues of immigration. Pelosi and Waters might say the reasons are Un-American.

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The Statue of Liberty as a symbol of freedom was a gift from France for the mutual exchange during the American Revolution. Some want to view immigrants as a threat. This usually happens when a war of words feels better than a war of ideas. Thankfully, an inscription on the statue sees us as an asset.

Over the years especially between the Civil War and Civil Rights, whenever two steps of progress were made there was a step backward into shades of years gone by. That would be like a company improving a product and then reversing good changes. When people realize a feature is gone it causes a backlash.

In the case of social change the backlash can cause roadblocks to a sense of community. It creates a level of distrust in civic institutions the way consumers might begin to distrust a company acting shady. What’s happening nowadays helps explain the steadiness of protest and need for a Community 3.0 plan.

The ongoing confusion and whiplash feels like a professor describing a subject one way and a totally disputed way next day. This makes it harder to prepare for mid-terms or finals. Waters and Pelosi know that next year the focus will be on mid-term elections. It’ll be interesting to see who passes the test.

Late-night shows and cable anchors have their hands full each week. The material for political analysis and satire is overflowing. In between the laughs and the lessons is some food for thought on many social issues. But it’s good that other voices help us stay calm or keep things fun and lose until the pain is gone.

Block Talkback: Does Bernie Sanders have a point about the link between Wall Street and Government? What can be learned from the link between Progressives & Dems or Conservatism & GOP?

Groove-tracks: Daley ft Jill Scott – Until The Pain is Gone – https://youtu.be/_MrqznD97y0

Skip Marley – Calm Down –  https://youtu.be/eyq74jtdgnY