Beyond the Cusp

September 23, 2017

Spreading Hatreds

 

You can feel it on Twitter, Facebook and the other social media. Hate is one of the subjects which infect most of what passes for news these days. Everybody has their own side and many people have defined their side’s rules for membership so tightly that they belong to a club of one. Needless to point out, even those in clubs consisting of them and only them believe that all those who are not in agreement with their club of one are wrong. Do not dare to disagree with the offended ones, as they will call down a fleet of defenders to rattle your cage. Then you will become offended and perhaps call in your reinforcements and then the flame wars are on. For hours, nothing posted is safe from ridicule and insult. Even some chat rooms have become poisonous pools dripping with sarcasm and mean spiritedness. The reality is that people on all sides are growing less and less tolerant of others. As stated above, the worst amongst us have withdrawn to the point that they are now an unstoppable force of one.

 

Many blogs are far to the left or to the right. Each finds their niche and from that point, they are off to defend the realm from those who would tear down the ramparts and destroy all that they hold dear and noble. They are always on the attack taking no prisoners along the way. Too many blogs monitor their comments removing any which state an opposing view with too great an ability. This past election in the United States was the perfect example of how far apart the two sides in the free western world have grown. The leftist camp was all in behind Hillary and the right extremes were all in behind The Donald. Well, that was the official line as the media and the power structure in the United States is based on there being only two parties who share the chance to lead. If one were to scratch the surface and peek below, they would find a few more political parties with only a remote few well enough known that any might be able to name. A few of the names which you might hear when asking are the Libertarian Party, Green Party, Constitution Party, Reform Party, Communist Party USA, New Black Panther Party, Socialist Party USA and maybe a few others largely depending on where in that great nation you do your asking. We could go into the long explanation for why third parties have such an uphill battle that they will almost always not be competitive. Perhaps the real and historic reason why would serve better.

 

Donald Trump & Hillary Clinton

Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton

 

Once upon a time, there were two major parties in the United States. Despite this, the first President, George Washington, was an Independent belonging to no party. President Washington did not believe that the United States should ever have political parties. Washington predicted that political parties, especially once two parties became all but exclusive, would be the only ones with power to be elected to major office. Here is the comment in his own words, President Washington,

“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

Despite his opposition to such, political alliances such as parties, the first two major parties were formed during his terms in office, the Federalist Party and the Anti-Federalist Party which would become the Democratic-Republican Party and finally simply the Democrat Party. The Federalist Party lost power and was replaced by the Whig Party which later split on the issue of slavery resulting in the formation of the Abolitionist Party which became the Republican Party soon thereafter. Once there came to be some consistency in the parties and to consolidate power after the Civil War, the Congress decided to pass laws making it difficult for other parties to place their candidates onto the ballot for President and Congress. States realized the advantage to having set standard parties and followed suit making ballot access laws more restrictive also exempting the two major parties. These laws allow for any party making a ballot in one election an easier route thereafter for as long as they are able to post what are considered viable candidates determined by their reaching a threshold of the popular vote. Despite such, it has been difficult to next to impossible for any third party to show consistently in sufficient states to pose a threat to the Democrat and Republican Parties. That is the story of how the United States came to the situation where you have professional politicians who hold office for decade upon decade starting as their high school president and then city council, state legislature, mayor, governor on to the House of Representatives and then on to the Senate or maybe the White House. Rumor is that it is difficult for a Senator to become President though it appears to be an easier possibility for a Representative or a Governor and even a Mayor. This is why many political stalwarts are so completely out of sorts over President Trump as he is an outsider who has never held any political office and thus completely unfit to be President. Additionally, he never served in the military and was not a commanding general who accomplished great victories like Washington, Grant and Eisenhower. The politicians look down upon the business world as a dirty line of work unbecoming statesmen such as themselves and that is why they are so free with passing regulations to limit the freedom of those unfit and unworldly lesser beings in the business world whose only real source of assistance to society is the campaign contributions they give to those very politicians. Perhaps President Washington was correct in his assumption that political parties would lead to unscrupulous behavior by those who were designed to be public servants and they might instead become self-serving.

 

In many ways, it is that exact system which has brought the United States to its present state. In all honesty, most western nations have fallen into the trap of two and at most three main parties between which the lion’s share of power rest. The current speed with which the world is progressing technologically has revolutionized communications and the means and influences which news is transmitted has brought about changes which few if anybody could have predicted leading to making it possible for people to find what became echo-chambers where they simply only hear those things supportive of their views. This has led to many becoming isolated in their own cocoon with venturing out being considered a risky venture. Largely because of this effect people are no longer capable or even desirous of understanding or even knowing of views other than those of their side. This makes each set of cocooned people isolated and spending their energies and time isolated but warm in their pool of reinforcing ripples. Everything around them measures their views as the best and often only answers to today’s problems and everybody spends most of their time reflecting within a mutual admiration society. The unfortunate thing is that everyone has apparently sought out their own echo-chamber and all are resting comfortable in their warm pools of self-reinforcement. The one interesting item is when the supporters of the most divergent extremes desire to protest, they will find the other arriving to oppose their right to be heard. Depending on the location of the confrontation and the political orientation of the reigning politics, the ensuing altercation will be predetermined. If the location be almost any college campus, then the more conservative side will be silenced. Each major city will have different priorities and the police may be instructed to assure the two sides are kept safely separated or they may be instructed to allow or even prompt confrontations. The media will be equally divided with the usual suspects supporting their preferred side. The media makes little difference as they will mostly be read or watched by people already in complete agreement. Few individuals actually attempt to become acquainted with the facts, opinions and views of the other side or sides. The fragmentation of the population will eventually lead to one outcome; the political class will utilize the separates societal groups in such a manner to grant themselves unparalleled power.

 

Currently, in the United States, the two major parties are not that far apart in their views. The hierarchy in both parties desperately desire centralizing all power and decisions in Washington D.C. right there on the Capitol Mall. They have slightly differing views as to what should be accomplished with said power. Both of the parties desire a completely unified one party structure where all of the power rests with the political class. The scary part is they were very close and this is part of why even the political class of Republicans, the ones who have been in Washington D.C. far too long and believe they are entitled to their own policy making, are so put out by the defeat of Hillary Clinton by an outsider who not only is not part of the grand plan, but one who is set on disconnecting and undoing everything accomplished over the past half century. The political class was so very close to total power and control that all they required was perhaps another decade of the right people in the White House. But Donald Trump was the worst possible person to have win the Oval Office. Had Bernie Sanders been permitted a fair fight and actually rallied sufficient support to win the Democrat nomination, then perhaps he might have prevailed against Donald Trump and the dream would have continued forward and possibly gained speed. Hillary Clinton was all in on the continuation of the Europeanization of the United States. Single Payer healthcare is the largest individual item to reach that goal and is still in play. This is part of why there is a core of Senators and members of the House of Representatives who are mostly known as the “Never Trumpers” and are still working hard on forcing the single payer plan as the sole answer to Obamacare. This has been what was behind the failure of the former attempts to repeal Obamacare. These central Republicans fighting not completely to foil Trump, though that is a plus, but to enact the final point for which Obamacare was enacted, European style single payer healthcare in order to drain the resources of the government such that the United States will no longer be capable of a strong military and will become no more of a world power than Canada (no insult intended to our friends in Canada). There has been minimal consideration of what will happen to the remainder of the western free world when the United States can no longer project power. That will leave the world open for any rising power to attempt to walk through and expand their power until fortune or a rival power brings their expansion to an end. This was the exact situation when Islam first rose to hold significant power around the year 625 leaving the Arabian Peninsula spreading across the Middle East and North Africa as the Roman Empire had fallen and the Byzantine Empire was in retreat though still had sufficient strength to protect eastern Europe long enough for other powers to build strength. With Islam becoming resurgent once again, this would be an inopportune time for the Western world to become weaker and potential of being relatively defenseless. The idea of making the United States more European than Cowboy is probably one of if not the most shortsighted ideas of all history. But that has often been the way of the world, just as the world sits on the brink of reaching a pivotal point where a great advancement is apparently close at hand, the entire house suddenly makes decision turning themselves into a house of cards which tumbles down into ruin. Let us hope, pray, do whatever each of us finds they are best suited that the leadership of the United States are not as short-sighted as those of former empires which self-destructed at historically the least opportune time. Should the United States cease being the preemptive power and sole-super power, the question is what will replace them and what will that civilization bring to the fore. We can only pray that humanity and the freedom of the individual remains at the fore of those who hold the power in their hands because otherwise we might find mankind enslaved for all eternity.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

March 11, 2013

Shas Reacts Facing the Unthinkable

In the entire history of the state of Israel, Shas has been included as part of the ruling coalition ever since its inception going into elections for the eleventh Knesset without concern for the political alignment, be it right, left, Zionist or any other conceivable alignment except for the sixteenth Knesset under Prime Minister Sharon. This has made the leadership of the Shas Party begin to expect that they would be included in every government going forward as they have proven to be loyal members of coalitions led by Labor or Likud and anyone inbetween. As such, the Shas leadership now has to deal with not being included in the next ruling coalition for only the second time since their inception and they are definitely not pleased with this situation. This begs the question of whether or not any party can rightfully view themselves as indispensable to any ruling coalition and what leads the membership of Shas to have such beliefs.

 

It is actually understandable why Shas has been able to join governing coalitions without regard to most of the political considerations which affect other parties. Shas is only beholden to the Sephardic Haredi population and as such has a very narrow definition of concerns. With such a specific and narrowly defined membership, Shas can be accommodated in any governing coalition without sacrificing any of the more secular principles which often go into the formation of a coalition. Shas would appear to favor more religious Jewish values which are also considered to be at least in part the basics for Likud, Labor and most of the other Israeli Jewish political parties and as such pose no difficulties for the inclusion of Shas in a government. Simply all the major party forming a coalition need implement to have Shas as a member party is to grant them the demands for Torah worship funding including stipends for their adult students, especially those with families, so they may study full time and not need to hold employment and also give those students of Torah deferment from military or public service requirements. This had not been a problem as it had been established through the Tal Law. That came crashing down when Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch annulled the Tal Law as a parting gift when she stepped down from her position. The Tal Law was in need of replacement as the Haredi portion of the Israeli society has grown to the point where it is becoming unfeasible to continue to carry them on the backs of the rest of the country and excuse them from any responsibility solely so they are free to study Torah and only study Torah. The transition had already shown the early signs of stirrings and would have been accomplished, albeit slowly, but it was being addressed. By annulling the Tal Law the government was faced with a pressing situation which more resembled a crisis than having to address a gradual change altering perceptions over time. This made Shas the political hot potato of this election cycle and was further exacerbated by Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid Party making the immediate enlistment and end of deferrals for almost all Torah students which placed them totally at odds with Shas. This led to a predicament where only one of the two political parties would be able to join the ruling coalition if either were to be included. As Lapid reached an agreement with Naftali Bennett of the Jewish Home Party that they would join their Knesset seats together and join a coalition or the opposition as one party. This left Prime Minister Netanyahu with a choice, either include both Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid Party and Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home Party or allow Shas to join his coalition. Apparently Shas will end up on the losing end of such a choice.

 

The resulting anger and recriminations which have emanated from the Shas membership and leadership both during the campaign and the ensuing coalition negotiations has been, shall we say, less than cordial or polite. Their vindictive rhetoric towards Yair Lapid and his party’s secular core which demanded equal sharing of the burden was predictable but their venomous outpourings at Naftali Bennett did come as a surprise to some, especially members of the Jewish Home Party. It will remain to be seen if the uncomely actions and accusations from some Shas members, particularly their newly returned leader, Aryeh Deri, have shocked many and left a rather putrid aroma over the whole coalition building scene. Their demands and appearance of feeling owed a position in the next government would affect adversely any regular party in upcoming elections. Not so Shas as their support comes from a close knit community which is obliged by their Rabbis to vote for Shas and without considerations of anything other than supporting their community at the expense of all else. This is part of why they are immune to normal influences that might cripple other parties and why they appear to garner the same portion of Knesset seats election after election. It will remain to be seen if the discipline to keep the members of Shas dependent upon their party once their insular community is no longer supported separate from the rest of Israeli society. Once they are no longer permitted universal deferment from IDF or public service it is possible that their world and societal views may change and outside influences may forever alter their previously closed society.

 

There is one item that also must be addressed if one is to be fair to the Haredi community. They have not exactly been accepted with open arms by those outside their community. Where there may be some credibility to the excuse that the Haredi have not exactly made enormous efforts to be accepted by the outside society, those outside of the Haredi community share at least an equal amount of blame for not making the Haredi accepted or make efforts to make the outside world accessible for the strictly religious. The lack of understanding has been shared by both sides of this debate and any solution is going to require sacrifices and efforts by both communities. Where the Haredi community has been portrayed by the secular media and secular society as a bunch of freaks living in a backwards and exclusive community, there has not exactly been any real efforts made to make the secular society accessible to the Haredi or to be sensitive to their culture and societal rules and standards. Much of the public discussion has been of a nature to criticize the Haredi with little effort put forth towards understanding and acceptance. The Haredi have just as much right to live according to traditional rules as the secular society has to ignore those very same rules which their ancestors no more than a few short generations ago lived by. That is the one small fact that many in the secular community ignore that they are not that far removed from the exact same societal structures and strict rules of the Haredi in their own families. Where it is true that the Haredi are going to need to join Israeli society and start to pull their fair share of the burden, it is also going to be necessary that the secular make adjustment which allows the Haredi to share the burden while not forcing them to abandon their principles and traditions. It is a two way street and neither side is going to be able to demand of the other that they forfeit their way of life and the lifestyle to which they are accustomed. If both are to share the burden, then both will also be burdened with making Israel a place which respects and accommodates both in equal amounts. The extent to which such accommodations and adjustments are made will be the measure to the tolerance and respect both societies are able to grant the other. The one truth is that the future of Israel is dependent upon a shared effort and interest in working together instead of competing for prevalence.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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