Beyond the Cusp

October 29, 2017

America at the Tipping Point


The citizens of the United States are separated by a division approaching that of the period before the Civil War. There are still a good number of people who have not raced to the far extremes of the political battle but they are being shut from the conversation. Those at the fringe edges have gained in numbers during the campaigns with Bernie Sanders at one end and Donald Trump pictured as the other extreme and Hillary Clinton actually less extreme though with other difficulties she was unable to overcome. The election of Donald Trump as President simply sent more people heading for the exits from rational, polite discourse into frenzied and often irrational vindictive and vicious name-calling with nobody permitted to be in the center. The political climate became take no prisoners, you are with us or you are the enemy of all that is sacred. Discourse became poisonous with assaults thrown from both sides and reason tossed in the trash. Even the news became polarized with many of the stories making nearly unbelievable accusations and claims proved to be exactly that, unbelievable accusations and claims which were proven with time to be false, the fake news with both sides being guilty of such falsehoods and unproven claims. All of this simply served to further push the sides apart until almost none permitted to remain neutral. The only path for remaining neutral, or at least not at the fringes of reason, was to stay silent and wait for the storm to pass. And the reasonable people remained silent and waited and are waiting and the heated rhetoric simply has become more vindictive, extreme and unreasonable. The storm is not passing.


There is some good news hidden within this heated storm. Both political parties are falling victim to their most extreme elements pulling them further and further from the center. Many Republicans have taken up the position that President Trump is being unfairly accused of being a monster without feelings and a novice who will soon force World War III or at least a nuclear war with North Korea or anybody else he can insult and thus will defend even his most indefensible actions. On the other side, there are those who would believe anything reported or rumored act of the most insane acts with the flimsiest of evidence. If there were a report on Facebook that President Trump had murdered a Gold Star Mom for talking back to him, they would repeat it till the cows come home and refuse to believe reporting that such never occurred as a cover-up. When everything settles from such exchanges, it is only because the adversaries fell asleep at their keyboards. But that would be fine as others around the globe would pick-up the argument and keep it nice and warm for when they awaken and start right where they left off. These arguments continue day and night and even when one claim for either side is finally beaten to death and disproved, that is fine as there will be another one coming along any moment. At any given time there must be at least ten, fifty, hundred, thousand, who can count the number of news stories being touted at any given moment as the new cycles, fake and real, just continues to feed the flame wars online.


The radicalizing of the conversation, and thus the political populace, is drawing the parties to the extremes. There has been discussion of a litmus test for Democrats that they support Senator Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for all single-payer health care. On the other side, the Republicans are divided between Trump supporters and those who are trying to be identified as the core of the traditional party with Senator McCain as their leading spokesperson. The moderates in both parties are being left out of the political discourse and this could be the opportunity for a centrist party representing those who have been left behind, the political center. Come the next Presidential elections in 2020, the Republicans will in all probability be running President Trump for re-election. Whom the Democrats run may define the party for the ensuing four to eight years. Their choice will be between the Senator Sanders wing of the party, the Clinton wing of the party, the Obama wing of the party or the some other group unheard from at this time. In the meantime there will be the 2018 elections which could decide the Senate and, as usual, the House of Representatives. With the extremes of the current discourse, it should be a wild and wooly ride. Imagine an election on top of the current atmosphere with campaigns exaggerating the already diverging differences and you can see how everything is going to get really absurd.


Trump vs the World

Trump vs the World


Taking measure of the political playing field, the noise from the opposing end zones is grabbing all the attention such that the quiet and calm suggestions emanating from the middle of the field is completely inaudible. Things are almost comical which might make a circus a far more applicable comparison. As a three-ring circus, the spotlights would be on the far two rings while the center ring would be completely dark and not part of the show. We are fast approaching the one-year anniversary of Election Day and that should prove to be interesting to say the least. There have been rumors of nation-wide protests to be launched across the United States with some calling for ever increasing protests in an effort to force President Trump from office. The people calling for these protests are from “The Resistance” and other groups even more radical who are making this sound like President Trump vs. the World. They play their hand as if they really were the true force of the world and their position was the one which was pure, holy and true. They act just as if they were on a mission from the Almighty and their charmed belief was sufficient to carry the day. To say their grip on reality might be a tad less firm than they believe would be an understatement. The problem is the Trump all the way come heck or high water group is any more centered would be just as insane. The difference is those supporting President Trump will not be demonstrating come the anniversary of Election Day, they will be home cheering on the police and, if things escalate, the National Guard troops. Does anybody honestly believe that between now and a week from now that the discourse will have subsided? Where that would be desirable, it is highly unlikely and, if the past is any indicator, things will start peaking and heating up even further this week and next. If there are national protests on November 8, we can hope against hope that they will be non-violent. Unfortunately, some of the more radical groups are not calling for peaceful protests, they want rioting and as much disruption as possible as that is how they expect to bring about change. Such change usually proves to be far less desirable than what is envisioned, as that which brings about change, their change is often for the worse, and it demands that the authorities must resort to tactics which are never desirable. We can only hope that these coming days pass with as few incidents as possible and that they bring a normalcy back to the political debate. We can only hope.


Beyond the Cusp


October 9, 2014

Why the United States Cannot Return to Greatness

You will hear how the United States will make a comeback and return to sane governance just as it did after President Jimmy Carter brought the nation to the brink of economic meltdown and had much of the public pessimistic to the point that the ‘Misery Index’ which had been used as a guide for politicians became a household word and was updated on many daily newscasts. Part of the reason that the United States recovered after President Carter was because they elected Ronald Reagan rather than trust President Carter a second term. President Obama was given a second term but there were some mitigating circumstances such as weak opposition by the Republican Party, the media almost taking a supportive position in backing the campaign of President Obama and foreign policy lapses had yet to prove disastrous and devolving to the threatening level it had with President Carter who faced a hostage crisis where Iran had held Fifty-two Embassy diplomats and citizens for 444 days, until President Reagan’s Inauguration Day. Had the foreign policy missteps by President Obama and his administration been made more evident before the election for his reelection, then he might have had a far more difficult time. Some may remember that the one area which Candidate Romney performed well was on foreign policy where President Obama made his best retort claiming when Romney answered that Russia was the United States number one adversary that, “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for twenty years.” The clincher came not from President Obama but from the moderator Candy Crowley countered when Romney claimed that President Obama had not called the assault on the Consulate in Benghazi a terror attack and when Romney repeated his claim after President Obama challenged him to read the transcript and Crowley exclaimed with great authority and emphasis, “He did in fact call it an ‘act of terror.” That ended any challenge Romney might further make over Benghazi as he had been deflated and his argument flattened giving President Obama the impetus he needed to win that debate and escape any further claims on Benghazi, the subject had been poisoned.

Still, if anyone thinks that President Obama would not have received a far better bid for reelection than had Jimmy Carter no matter how the debates went or who he was running against obviously has no idea how almost completely President Reagan won that election, it was a virtually unanimous electoral vote except for the District of Columbia and Georgia, Minnesota, Maryland, Rhode Island, Hawaii and West Virginia. The electorate of the United States has witnessed a sea of change in the past ten years as certain critical demographics have changed with much of that change coming during President Obama’s time in office. Do not get this wrong, President George W. Bush made some huge influences which gave the changes an initial impetus which would have forced much of the change even without any additional shoves which they have received since. We need to remember that the prescription drug assistance granted to those who received government aided medical insurance such as Medicare and Medicaid very soon became the largest single government giveaway program. Sometime during the years when President Bush was in office the percentage of American citizens who were dependent on government at some level surpassed the fifty-percent fulcrum point where it had been theorized that their votes for increased government contributions to their pockets. This was predicted longer ago than many people are probably aware as it was said by Alexis de Tocqueville explaining the breaking point which would inevitable come and destroy the nation he saw as the most exemplary governance in existence when he stated, “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”

There was one Founding Father who foresaw and gave the resolution that would treat this eventuality when Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter upon receiving his copy of the Constitution in which Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.” And earlier in the letter he commented on the frequency such watering the tree of liberty would require, he mentioned his view of the purity of purpose of the American Revolution and the necessity of the purifying fire of refreshment where he wrote, “And can history produce an instance of a rebellion so honourably conducted? I say nothing of its motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion.” Yes, that is what Thomas Jefferson predicted, that the government of men would so far run adrift from the founding principles that every twenty years the nation would require the reset of another revolution and the reinstatement of the Constitution anew. Well, perhaps Thomas Jefferson was wrong though a serious inspection of the governance of the United States over the years there have been the historians who have made a convincing argument that the twenty year measure may not have been as ridiculous as we might think. Even if the measure of twenty years may appear too drastic, would one offer the same argument should one suggest that perhaps a two century timeframe were the measure in place of twenty years?

Whatever the measure one might place, it matters not. The fulcrum point has been surpassed and the preponderance of weight of votes are now likely to be cast in favor of retaining the programs and expanding the payments and the loosening the requirements as the first grants greater funds into their pockets and the latter brings more people into the program thus guaranteeing its continuation and potentials for increased funding. Once we see evidence that the balance has gone to the side of those who receive more from the government than they pay in taxes of all varieties plus those who are dependent on government, state, federal, county, or other elected body for their salaries compared to those whose tax payments are greater than payments received from government programs, then as long as the former vote at an equal or greater percentage than the latter the government will continue to grant greater payments while increasing taxes as those paying the taxes will have been silenced at the ballot box. The predictions that this point was surpassed during the Presidency of George W. Bush may have been correct but when the line was crossed is not as important as whether it was crossed. The numbers of Americans who were collecting the majority of their funds from government; be they welfare, disability, salary or other forms of receipt of government payments; passed the tipping point by a sufficient margin that there may be no turning back. The demographics of the next Presidential election in the United States may prove just as important as who actually wins the election. Once the demographics are studied and become known we may be seeing numerous articles signaling the death of the America which so impressed Alexis de Tocqueville causing him to state as well as to give an ominous warning in the same quote with, “Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.” What would Mr. Tocqueville conclude visiting America’s churches and listening to the preaching within today? Would he surmise that the greatness persists or would he fear the empty pews and the generally milquetoast sermons and preaching just as empty as the pews signify the demise of American greatness?

Beyond the Cusp

March 6, 2013

Calls for Revolution Will Lead to Undesirable Results

Revolutions are part of the natural cycles of governance and are often required to bring forth change. Change is the one result of revolution that is guaranteed. Desirable change is not guaranteed and is the least likely of all the possible results from a revolution. The one consequence of revolution is unpredictability and such uncertainty is a wicked mistress. The closest analogy of revolution in nature is fire. The great plains and forests of the world left to nature will suffer cleansing fires as that is nature’s way of effecting change. The renewals resultant from these flames is necessary in the cycles of renewal by Mother Nature. The other similarity between nature’s renewal by fire and political renewal by revolution is that each is an extremely dangerous process to all living things within the effects of the sweeping flames of change. The forests and plains then reset to an original starting point from which nature rebuilds eventually reaching the point where the conditions will eventually again reach the point where the conditions are ripe for the next renewal by fire. Governance of man is similar in that the governance that results from any revolution is not guaranteed and, more often than not, the forces in control at the end of the revolution are rarely the same forces that began the revolution. The recent revolutions in the Middle East are perfect examples of this consequence.


The originators of the Egyptian uprising, for example, were students and young adults who using the new high tech media began a revolution that presented the opportunity for the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists to step in and reap the rewards from the wind swept flames of change. Similar results followed from what began actually in 2009 Iran where the students and many from the society protested the stealing of the election by Ahmadinejad and were violently oppressed. Their attempt at change failed largely due to the timidity by the rest of the world to support their calls for relief from despotic rule. The next country was Tunisia where a vegetable street vendor reached beyond his limits and revolted by self-immolation. This was the spark that lighted the flames of revolution in Tunisia which then ignited across Northern Africa and beyond. The original protests were demands for freedom, democratic representation, liberty, and an end to economic repressions. The results have thus far been the replacement of nationalistic dictators with the election of Islamic religious leaderships which may result in the imposition of a new dictatorial type of theocratic tyrannies. The freedom expressing youth who wished for modernized democratic governance began these revolutions and the theocratic fundamentalists had the organizational presence to take advantage of an unstable leadership vacuum which they used all their influence and power to fill while displacing the idealistic youth. The history of revolutions will verify the posit that those who initiate revolution are more often than not cast aside by other forces who have the necessary organization in the ready seemingly waiting for just such an opportunity to divert the situation for their own gain.


There are those who believe that a revolution may be required in order to reinstitute the original Constitutional limits and reinstate idealistic governance that they believe existed at the birth of the United States and honestly believe that they would be able to control the transformation once the existing governance had been toppled making room for their visions to be realized. Other than the disillusioned truth that even at the time that George Washington was taking the oath of office the constitution was on the verge of being compromised as soon as Congress was seated. The Constitutional standard set forth in the actual document was an idealistic governance for which we were to strive and described a perfection which was to be minded in order to limit the evils to which men fall victim simply due to the fact that all are imperfect and corruptible when compared to a perfection of the vision such as presented in the Constitution. The ideal is near impossible yet is what must be the used definition of governance if society is to have any possibility of resisting the temptations that lead to corrupt ruling leadership that result from partaking of a taste of power. The problem with any revolution, even one with the stated goal of reinstating the original Constitution in its entirety, the temptations of power will work their tantalizations on those who find themselves as leaders. Since revolutions will tend to appoint or have some assume power, they leave the aims of the revolution to become victim of the desires of those trusted with leadership. History has proven that those trusted with leadership often break every vow and trust that was instituted when they first assumed leadership and power. As the old phrase states, “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.”


When looking at the current state of political power in the United States and comparing it to the allocations of power according to the Constitution, one finds the structure which was meant to protect the individual States from an overreaching central government have been completely turned on their head. This is very much a stipulation for change that is made by those who believe the time has come to take whatever steps may be required to reset the governance of the United States back to the originating Constitutional arrangements. The problem is there is far too much risk in attempting to force such a change as those in power will not likely surrender that which they now hold. Forcing the issue would necessitate revolution and the flames of change are usually not kind. The only guaranteed manner of reasserting the limits and doctrines of the Constitution is to go through a period of disciplined change in order to undo over two hundred years of compromise. Such an endeavor would take near inhuman dedication over generations all the while resisting the exact same temptations which caused this problem in the first place. The problem is that each compromise committed to the purity of the Constitution was seen and accepted as an improvement or necessity and was generally approved by the majority at their inception. The perfect example would be the Seventeenth Amendment which called for a change in the manner for the selection of United States Senators. In accordance with the humanistic philosophies of the period where it was theorized that the people as a whole entity were of superior intelligence and pure nature than were the State Governments which were seen as even more corrupt than the Federal Government. This caused the belief that the citizenry would be preferred to be given the power to elect their Senators instead of allowing the State Legislators or Governor to appoint them. This was seen as advantageous and the Constitutional Amendment was presumably ratified as such. The theory that the Senate was to be the house that represented the individual States was set aside and transformed to mean the Senators were to represent the will of the peoples of each State. This was definitely to the advantage of the powers in Washington as it completely removed any vestige of power over the Federal Government actions and laws from the State legislators or other governmental power. This one Amendment may have had the most far reaching affect in subsuming power from the States into the centralized Federal Government. To undo the evisceration of the United States Constitution by two centuries of compromises and cheating performed by the representatives of the people, often despite vocal protests from a minority of strict constitutionalists, the people must be convinced it is in their vital interest to partake of an effort to reassert the original limitations, definitions, identifications, and structures of the Constitution of the Federal Government and all other forms of governance throughout the United States. Even if this should become evident, it would then take transmitting this eminent desire to the ensuing generations very likely for far longer than it took allowing for the constitution to be abridged. That will be one difficult and possibly climbable mountain to conquer, but likely a worthy goal. It is that very difficulty that makes the idea of revolution and quick restoration so tempting, but that allure would likely not produce the desired end. The fires of change tend to burn out of the control of those who lighted the initial flames.


Beyond the Cusp


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