Musings: Comedy as a Teachable Tool

Musings: Comedy as a Teachable Tool

 

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Is there a line that is crossed when comedians act as “news sources”?  (Washington Post)

Comedy can be a teachable tool.

Bad and vile comedy can cross a line. Good comedy can teach us about something we haven’t thought of.

There are two news pieces that are good cases about how comedy can teach us in different ways.

The brilliant Daniel P. Finney of the Des Moines Register writes a thought-provoking piece about comedians dipping their feet into politics. You can offer a political opinion, but there are consequences when it crosses the line.

It is a stark reminder to me about the role of journalists. Unfortunately, there are a cadre of journalists who continue to blur the lines between “reporting” and “commentary”.

The takeaway quotes are below from Finney’s column:

“When you stake out the moral high ground and say you are the party of inclusion and diversity and the other party is not, you’d better make damn sure the people who are carrying your message are morally sound,” said Rachel Caufield, an associate professor of political science at Drake University who has taught a course on political satire. “Racial slurs and faked decapitated heads are not the way the left are going to reach the center.”

Whether we like it or not — and for the record, I don’t — comedians are now treated as thought leaders and news sources in this country.

And the fake decapitated heads and racial slurs do more than just besmirch the images of a couple of rogue comedians. They undermine the message of liberals and Democrats. 

Daniel P. Finney, “Comedy is killing the political left”, Des Moines Register, June 7, 2017 

The statement underlined is the various reasons I am a small minority of viewers who chose not to watch individuals like Jon Stewart, Colbert, Trevor Noah and others. They are comedians who are treated as “news sources” because viewers do not trust the mainstream media.

Is it wrong to assume that these are the same viewers who feel obligated to “support” the mainstream media that is being “attacked” by the current presidential administration?

Do these viewers support the media and at the same time loathe them enough to get their “news” from Samantha Bee and have her affirm their beliefs?

It is clear that viewers want “affirmation” for their beliefs, not information that they need. That comment comes from (surprise!) noted hot sports take aficionado Colin Cowherd., who has been saying this for a decade.

I need information to learn what is going on. I can form my own opinions privately, without the help of a comedian. Especially unfunny comedians like Maher who has become increasingly bitter and acrimonious because he isn’t the “go-to” guy that Colbert, and Stewart before him, was.


The recent arrest of Reality Winner, or whoever her real name is, for allegedly removing classified information from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet, is  starting to pick up some traction. Attorney Mark Zaid, who represents whistleblowers, said that Winner isn’t a whistleblower. She had grudge against the President and decided to use her grudge as retaliation.

I don’t know much about this story, so I’ll refrain from forming an opinion until I understand more about what took place.

Which leads to this question….

“Do government workers believe in the policies that their elected leaders come up with?”

Government employees are hired to carry out government policies. That should be a simple task, but it’s not. With any change in leadership, policies can fluctuate and change quickly. That puts government employees, regardless of  in a conundrum.

Yes Minister
“Yes Minister” is a great lesson in how government operates, for good and evil. I highly recommend this series. I prefer it over “House of Cards”. Don’t @ me. (Den of Geeks)

This question popped into my head while watching one of my favorite television shows, “Yes Minister”. “Yes Minister” (and its successor “Yes Prime Minister”) details the inner workings of the British government and the comedic attempts by Sir Humphrey Appleby and the Civil Service to thwart (Government) Minister Jim Hacker’s pursuit to enact policies for the public good.

In the episode, “The Whisky Priest”, Hacker is alerted about an illegal sale of arms to an Italian terrorist group. He plans to tell the Prime Minister, but Sir Humphrey attempts to discourage and obstruct Hacker from telling the Prime Minister.

In the pivotal scene in between Humphrey, Hacker, and Bernard Woolley, Humphrey’s dialogue about what his job is and what the role of government paints a picture of what government workers go through on a daily basis when elected officials try to create policies that goes one way or another and then expect government employees to believe in it and enforce those policies.

Sir Humphrey: My job is to carry out government policy.

Hacker: Even if you think it’s wrong?

Sir Humphrey: Well, almost all government policy is wrong, but… frightfully well carried out.

“Yes Minister” unveils several questions about how, and who, actually runs the government.

Do the elected officials run the country or is it the bureaucrats who dictate the daily operations on Capitol Hill, state capitals, and in City Hall?  If citizens do not trust politicians, should we trust bureaucrats and government workers, who clearly has more knowledge about what goes on?

When you finish “The Whisky Priest”, I encourage you to watch several more episodes and ask yourself “Do we really know what is going on in our governments, and do we care to know?”

A Missing “Core”

A Missing “Core”

Two stories in the Des Moines Register recently caught my eye, and it tied into a piece 2014 piece I wrote.

The Brookings Institute published a report on metro areas that has seen economic recovery after the recession. Des Moines was one of the cities that enjoy “inclusive” economic growth that benefited a diverse range of the region’s population, however, Brookings also indicated that also the greater Des Moines economy is leaving some workers behind, namely poor workers.

The second story was a release of a study from The Directors Council, a local non-profit group, on the widening racial disparities in Polk County and Des Moines.

In October 2014, I wrote on how Des Moines is so progressive in many areas and yet ignoring the African-American community within the urban core. Surprisingly, some groups are finally getting around to addressing these issues. The urban core is poor and most of the citizens of this core are African-Americans.

There are a two questions that I have…

  1. I have never heard of this The Directors Council or the affiliations underneath TDC. I had lived in the Des Moines area for 13 years and not one person of color, or anyone else, has mentioned this group to me. For the record, I am African-American. I have been seeking organizations like these as a way to connect to possible mentors or to establish new networks.
  2. What was this group doing when Ako Abdul-Samad told the National Journal in 2014 about his frustration on how Des Moines has viewed and treated its predominantly black urban core?

There is a lack of African-Americans in (political) leadership, in arts and nonprofits, and in the Des Moines business community. The only time I hear of a prominent African-American in Des Moines, that person is in the business world.

I hear of their names, but I never see them in person.

They must be hard to track down. It’s better to not be seen than to have people recognize you, that is my guess. And no, attending the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s diversity receptions do not count as an official appearance.

When I look back at my experience living and working in Des Moines. I continue to question the willingness of Des Moines to address actual problems regarding the socioeconomic disparities within its city borders, without slapping paint on it and say “everything’s fine”.

The new wave of “gentrification” in the downtown area, unemployment rates for African-Americans, safety for those who live in poorer neighborhoods, and food scarcity with regards to affordability to buy fresh food over cheap junk food are vital topics for the urban core, beyond the common topics of race, unemployment, and economics.

I don’t have an answer to how all of this can be fixed. I’m no policy wonk. I do know that in order for Des Moines (not just city leaders, but business leaders especially) to be actively “inclusive”, they need to do a better job of addressing what it means to be “inclusive” and effectively supporting groups and individuals who are disadvantaged from a socioeconmic standpoint.

Beating The Dead Horse Over And Over

Beating The Dead Horse Over And Over

Unless you have been hibernating since fall, the only thing that America and the world can’t stop tweeting, Facebooking, or talking about is the guy who is in charge.

I’ll save you the agony of not mentioning the name. I don’t really care what you think, but there is something to what content marketer and author Christoph Trappe tweeted above.

You can keep telling the same story, but that story will stop resonating to people. You can spin it, recycle it, and add more to it. But at this point, it’s starting to fall on deaf ears.

What is striking is that once people have a narrative that everyone else has or are using, the less relevant it becomes.

When you keep beating the dead horse into the ground, there isn’t anything else to say or do.

Time to get a new narrative.

It becomes an echo chamber that no one wants to leave. We don’t want to give up the narrative.

Let me save you wasting your time with this:  you’re telling me something already know. Tell me a different story. I’m tired of hearing the same thing day in and day out. It has lost its relevance. I’ve moved on.

I’ll leave you with this from Tully Corcoran from The Big Lead. The crux is that everyone is saying the same thing, but we’re not saying much either about what we already know.

Inside the echo chamber, that is. Outside of it, these words barely even register as interesting, much less persuasive.

The rub is not that (name redacted) voters haven’t realized (name redacted) is cynical and selfish. They know that. Every American has known that for 30 years. The rub is that the temperament of the president is not among their political priorities. Neither Gregg Popovich nor anybody else is going to convince them it should be by grumbling it into a set of microphones just so he doesn’t have to answer another stupid question about momentum, no matter how gold the halo the sports media paints over his silver head.

Popovich is shouting into an echo chamber, and he’s not even shouting anything interesting. The president is a jerk. We get it. Now what?  

We get it. Now what? The story is old.

You’re not going to change anyone’s mind about it.

Tell me something new, or stop telling the narrative. That ship sailed months ago.

And I’m not a Democrat or a Republican. You can keep that hot garbage in your pocket.

Who’s Running This City Anyway??

Who’s Running This City Anyway??

Two stories over the past two weeks have called into question over “who really runs the city.”

An anonymous source leaked to the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier of a heated email exchange between Mayor Quentin Hart and councilman Tim Lind over the process of hiring a part-time communications director. By all accounts, Hart followed the rules, and had authority, to hire a part-time position…without seeking the city council’s approval.

While that was going on, the city of Muscatine has themselves a soap opera brewing. Their city council has filed impeachment charges against their mayor, Diane Broderson. Broderson filed suit against the city council for attempting to strip her powers as mayor over a similar situation: the appointment of board and commission members.

Yes, Hart and Broderson are facing elements of racial and gender factors (Hart is black, Broderson is female), but the crux of this is usually a long-running issue: who has more power…the mayor, the city council, or the city manager/administrator.

When I moved to Davenport in 2015, it’s city administrator Craig Malin resigned as former mayor Bill Gluba was canvassing votes for Malin’s ouster over the planned move of Rhythm City Casino to a location near the intersection of Interstate 80 and 74. The fiasco cost Gluba dearly, as he lost to Frank Klipsch in the mayoral election that fall.

This is not a surprise. Nor should it be.

Local governments, much like Congress, can turn citizens into power hungry egomaniacs hell-bent on forcing their own personal “Manifest Destiny” once they get elected.

I don’t much know about Muscatine (only what I have read), but I do know Waterloo. It’s my hometown.

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Mayor Quentin Hart of Waterloo, Iowa. (Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier)

From what I can gauge with Waterloo (and I could be wrong), there is a city councilman, Steve Schmitt, that has ran for mayor several times and have lost each time. Hart was a city councilman until he ran and was elected mayor. The problem is that Schmitt has a reputation of questioning the mayor’s office and the competency of Hart and his predecessor, Tim Hurley, That has only intensified with Hart now in the mayor’s office.

Last summer, Schmitt engineered a council vote to reject footing the bill for Hart to attend a mayor’s conference in Washington, D.C.. Hart had to pay for the trip out of his own pockets, along with a little help from a Kickstarter campaign from several of his supporters.

This isn’t the only time Schmitt has placed himself as a “wannabe” mayor. He acts like a mayor, talks like a mayor, tries to do business as a mayor….but he isn’t the mayor. The mayor has authority, and that authority is being undermined. The email flap between Hart and councilman Tim Lind has exacerbated matters.

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Mayor Diane Broderson of Muscatine, Iowa (Quad City Times)

In the Broderson matter, the Muscatine city council has worked feverishly to strip all of Broderson’s authority as mayor, citing “habitual neglect” of her “fiduciary duties.” This stems from last August when the city council began the process to change the appointment authority for boards and commissions to a nominating committee, and the ability to appoint and remove the fire and police chiefs to the city administrator, subject to the approval of the city council.

A nominating committee comprised of two council members, the mayor, and the city administrator or appointed staff member was created to review applications for boards and commissions and bring recommendations to the city council for approval. Previously, the mayor held appointment and removal powers, subject to the approval of the council.

A letter was sent to Muscatine citing that the changes could be in violation of the Iowa Code. According to the Code, a city with a population of 8,000 or more should appoint three civil service commissioners to handle the appointments if there is a paid fire and/or police department.

Upon learning of the city council’s attempt to strip her powers as mayor, Broderson filed a suit against the city council to block them from moving forward with their plans.

And all we care about is what is going on in Washington, and there is trouble in our own backyards. 

As Strother Martin said in “Cool Hand Luke” “What we got here is failure to communicate.” Since when do city councils, school boards, or any other elected forms of council decided that they know how to run a city better than a mayor, city administrator, or a city manager?

Quentin Hart and Diane Broderson has to be thinking to themselves what Bill Parcells famously said about coaching and running a football team:

If they want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries.

These are power play moves in politics. When voters keep re-electing people, the less likely those incumbents are willing to upset the status quo. When someone new arrives and attempts to change the culture, there will always be pushback.

But these pushbacks that are being waged at Hart and Broderson looks like a Sunday School picnic where everyone wants to hand out a slice of pound cake, but they’re unwilling to slice an equal amount of cake to share.

But, what do I know? No one is going to read this blog. I talk about topics no one cares about…unless if it’s about protest marches and building walls.

Unpopular Opinions

Unpopular Opinions
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“Duuuude, I have an unpopular opinion. Is it cool to say it here?”

It is a scary proposition when you offer an unpopular opinion (or UPO on this blog going forward). For one, you worry about the instant reaction of people (who don’t read the “why”), and two you worry about how your interaction with people will go moving forward.

There are far too many folks carrying grudges, past and present, that will ultimately kill them. Karma has a way of doing that.

There are those who, agree or disagree with you, who are willing to let you offer your opinion and your rationale, without getting pissy about it. For me, I will give an opinion and I drop it after that. I said what I needed to say and I move on.

It’s called civil discourse. Sadly, way too many people doesn’t think that being civil does anything. I disagree with that. It depends on the individual and how they respond to it.

If you interact with an overly emotional person, they will talk with their hearts. With an irrational person, they will be all over place. A person who will think about it without haste and offer a salient observation, might offer some points that you may not think of.

As a way to get back into my writing mode (and start rebuilding content), I will offer some unpopular opinions and a reason for them.

Remember, you don’t have to read them, if you don’t like them. There are plenty of other blogs and written materials you can read. Or, you can write your own blog.

UPO #1: Pseduo-celebrities like Mr. Sulu (George Takei), Matt Walsh, D.L. Hughley, Henry Rollins , Shaun King, and other who feel the need to offer an opinion on everything. Chill with the Facebook posts, fellas. It’s alright to take a “topic” off once in awhile…or maybe a few more.

UPO #2: I’ve never watched Jon Stewart, Bill O’Reilly, Bill Maher, Keith Olbermann (post-ESPN) or Stephen Colbert. It doesn’t make me a conservative nor a liberal. I was never interested in them, just as much as I was not interested in “Friends”, reality television shows, and various people and things.

An observation came to mind: are there viewers like me that are tired of hearing middle-aged white men (on both sides of the ideological aisles) bloviating to no end about how the world should look like in their own eyes?

UPO #3: Award shows for entertainers. It has become social media troll fodder for people who aspire to be Siskel and Ebert, but they tweet more like Waldorf and Stadler.

UPO #4: Barack Obama isn’t the greatest President we ever had, and I’m not a fan of the incessant lovefest.  Each president is just a guy who was elected to keep us from being one step closer to going nuts as a nation. History will determine Obama’s tenure in about a decade. To add, the presidents, in my view, are just humans. Not perfect, not completely flawed. I only vote for the person who I view can do the best job, not who’s more “presidential” based on looks and presence.

Best Presidents: Washington (he was the first, so he had to set a precedent), Lincoln (for the Civil War, freedom of slaves), Franklin D. Roosevelt (WWII, WPA, and Great Depression), and John F. Kennedy (NASA, and introducing a new generation to public service).

UPO #5: This isn’t “Trump’s America” Cut that shit out. This is AMERICA. We’ve been through wars, tragedies, bad decisions, and everything else since our existence.

We will get through this. If you doubt that, then you doubt yourself.

I feel better now. Okay, on to other stuff that isn’t political, divisive, and tiresome.

Wait…I sort of lied. I need to get this off of my topic pile.

Colin Cowherd, who is notorious for “hot sports takes”, from time to time will offer something about his profession that can be considered as “ugly truth”. He laid out something that most Americans are too lazy to figure out, especially when it comes to political and sports shows: it’s not about information. It’s about being “interesting”. Saying something outrageous turns more heads than a sabermetrics geek talking baseball numbers and a policy wonk explaining nuances of a bill. Viewers only care to see what you will say next, and if it’s more outlandish than the next.

The idea of substantive and nuanced discussion with subject matter experts certainly exists, but doesn’t work as well as selling certainty and hot takes to a droll mainstream audience clamoring for more buffoonery.

Clemson being a fraud (or any team getting that label) is what the audience wants to hear. People tweet it, post it on message boards, and talk about it in their social circles and on talk radio. It reverberates. Agree or disagree, it’s something to talk about, and regardless if he’s wrong, you’re going to keep coming back if you like this particular flavor of hot take.

The idea of him (Cowherd) and others saying something like “Clemson has had an up and down and year and I think they’re going to have problems against Ohio State or Alabama. I don’t know, we’ll see……should be a good game”, does not payoff in the sports media world. – Ben Koo, Awful Announcing, Jan 10, 2017

As Koo pointed out, sports isn’t the only place where this tactic takes place.

Politics is loaded with this. Koo finished with this line in his column, “Until people opt to tune out personalities and shows that make noise for the sake of making noise, this is what you get.”

Several years ago, I wrote suggesting that people “tune out” Iowa congressional representative Steve King. A good number of Democrats thought my suggestion was dumb. “WE HAVE TO MAKE PEOPLE NOTICE ABOUT  HIM!!”

How’s that going, Democrats, RAYGUN, and everyone else?  He’s still in Congress, so your efforts to “bring light” about his antics backfired.

It’s Psychology 101: the less attention you give to an attention-seeker, the less relevant that person becomes, because people will stop listening.

If the story of Senator Joe McCarthy doesn’t ring a bell….Google it up. Read what happens when attorney Joseph Welch calls McCarthy out over the Communism “blacklist” hearings. No one paid attention to McCarthy after that.

That’s how you handle an attention-seeker. Not printing t-shirts with catchy slogans, jumping on social media and retweeting statements.

But telling that to a Democrat or a Republican is like talking to a…ahem…wall. They’re too obsessed to let go from a mental aspect.

But, what do I know? No one’s going to read this blog post anyway. I write about topics that no one is “interested” in.

Pretty much the case with any blogs.

 

Being A Voter Doesn’t Give You The Civic Duty to Be A Jerk

Being A Voter Doesn’t Give You The Civic Duty to Be A Jerk

Being “a self-important clown” isn’t something that most people will like to hear, but as someone who spends time observing various stuff and learning how to evolve with the times, your views do shift.

As in the case of the election last week.

One of the common themes about voting is that if “you don’t vote, then you should not have a voice” or an avenue to talk about the issues.

This is a clown. A "self-important clown" is someone who think and act like they're better than anyone else. When it comes to voters, we tend to act like elite jerks, all in the name of "civic duty."
This is a clown. A “self-important clown” is someone who think and act like they’re better than anyone else. When it comes to voters, we tend to act like elite jerks, all in the name of “civic duty.”

I used to be one of those people, as this post in 2010 can attest to.

Therefore, I deserved to be called a hypocrite.

We love to point fingers at people, when we should be pointing the finger at ourselves. Isn’t that what a hypocrite does? I’m guilty of it too. At least, for this post, I’m admitting that.

Here is my “mea culpa”.

Over the past 10 months, my view has changed with regards to how we treat and dismiss people who are do not follow politics and do not vote, and when they speak out about issues that are important to them. Voters dismiss them for not doing their “civic duty” in voting.

This took shape over the past week when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (Kaep for short) announced that he did not vote because he had deep reservations about both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, alluding to the “systemic oppression” that continues to be prevalent in the United States with respects to African-Americans.

Kaepernick has been critical of both candidates for months. “You have Hillary [Clinton], who has called black teens or black kids super predators,” he said in August. “You have Donald Trump, who is openly racist.”

“I’ve been very disconnected from the systematic oppression as a whole,” he told reporters. “So, for me, it’s another face that’s going to be the face of that system of oppression.

“And to me, it didn’t really matter who went in there (to be elected), the system still remains intact that oppresses people of color,” he added.

-Michael Sebastian, Esquire Magazine, November 10, 2016

Colin Kaepernick. (Jake Roth, USA Today)
Colin Kaepernick. (Jake Roth, USA Today)

The reaction, no surprise, was one of furor…by voters.

Stephen A. Smith, ESPN’s resident loud-mouthed “hot take” troll, spent 15 minutes calling Kaepernick a ‘hypocrite”, because he did not vote. Ironically, Kaepernick is on the forefront of speaking about the escalating and long-running issue of race and police brutality.

That is when it struck me. Here is a dude who felt compelled to take a knee to protest and elicit conversation about the current treatment of African-Americans in this country, and the people who supported him are admonish him for not voting.

Several days later, Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Mike Evans sat down during the national anthem to protest the election of Trump.  When asked if he voted, Evans said no, citing that he is not a political person. On the following day, he apologized for sitting down and offered to find another way to address the situation.

Evans received the same vitriol that Kaepernick received.

Evans and Kaepernick are individuals who are not political or follow politics by any means. And yet, they were chastised for not voting by people who did vote.

“If you don’t vote, don’t complain.” 

That is the stupidest line ever uttered.

Voters, including me, are the ultimate hypocrites.

I’ve written this in the past about my perspective on politics and viewpoints: I don’t tell people how or who to vote for. Anyone who does that, isn’t a very confident person and uses bullying to get their way.

I will amend this with the following: if someone is not interested in politics, they should not have to vote for the sake of voting.

That is what nearly 47% of the nation did….not vote. They’re fed up with the state of affairs in this country. That was their protest vote, if that’s how you want to spin it.

Mike Evans of Tampa Bay. Evans didn't get the attention that Kaepernick received, but it didn't go unnoticed with some, like ESPN's Bomani Jones. (Athletes Speakers)
Mike Evans of Tampa Bay. Evans didn’t get the attention that Kaepernick received, but it didn’t go unnoticed with some, like ESPN’s Bomani Jones. (Athletes Speakers)

Clinton and Trump had way too much baggage and their actions speak for themselves.

But, of course, what do I know? No one wants to read what I’m writing. And I’m not a Democrat or a Republican. Both groups are grandstanding jackasses.

What Kaep said drove home the point: it didn’t matter who was elected, it was going to be business as usual, and neither Clinton or Trump was going to seriously address racial relations.

Bomani Jones of ESPN talked about the Evans story on Monday afternoon and debunked the so-called narrative about the importance of voting as it relates to someone having an opinion.

The monologue begins around the 10:20 mark.

Voting gives people the false sense that they are making a difference, when they are really not, as Jones pointed out (and rightfully so). Putting on a “I Voted!” sticker, to show people how “patriotic” we are and our obligation to perform a civic duty, and then flaunting in the face of others reeks of elitism and hubris.

When did having a “vote” gives you the authority to tell people who didn’t vote that they shouldn’t complain or say anything that they see as an issue?  

It is not a civic duty. It is a choice.

If it is such a civic duty, then why do we vote, if there is no interest to vote for two candidates that America was unhappy about?

So we can get a sticker and feel individually empowered without any guilt? Does voting empower us to act like raving lunatics and lose our shit over an election?

If that is the case, then all of us are fear mongers.

What does that prove?

If given a choice, who would you not see vote? A conspiracy theorist, a racist, or a misogynist? Someone who leans toward a third party candidates, or someone who is not political or well-informed about the issues and yet have an opinion?

Many of you would prefer that all of them don’t vote.

Bomani Jones of ESPN. An underrated rational voice of reason. (ESPN)
Bomani Jones of ESPN. An underrated rational voice of reason. (ESPN)

But…they do vote. If you try to keep them from voting, you are in fact suppressing them from voting. Jones’ argument is that voters go out of their way to dismiss the view of those who are not political, by using the “did you vote?” rationale as an excuse.

Liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans love to use that “card” to show how “great” they are.

Assholes. All of them.

There is a lot of places around in America that are trying to suppress voters these days. You will talk about that, but we ignore our level of suppression towards those who may vote for someone who you oppose, or doesn’t vote at all.

Just because we vote, it does not and should not make us feel entitled and privileged to tell those who chose not to vote that their opinion and their causes do not matter.

We, the voters, are suppressing people’s voices, all in the name of a “civic duty” that we are “obligated” to do.

That’s being a hypocrite.

We live in America, where we are free to make choices. Third world citizens would do anything to live here and be free to live however they choose.

To tell them that they have to vote for the sake of voting, is hollow.

If people do not see any reason to be politically active or take part in something they are not crazy about, then they are free to do what they want.

They pay taxes too.

I will no longer dismiss anyone who are interested and concern about the issues that are important to them, without holding a pithy obligation to perform a civic duty over their heads.

Oh, and voters, stop being assholes (including me).

But what do I know…no one is going to read this anyway.

 

An Identity Crisis

An Identity Crisis
mr-ed-the-horse-with-alan-young
Horses don’t vote, but they do watch television, like Mr. Ed.

I didn’t watch a second of the election night coverage. I watched a Mid-American Conference football game, listened to a hockey game and the Lakers on my SiriusXM radio app.

I was in no mood to read the instant whining from losers and the obnoxious gloating from winners. Neither of them serves any purpose.

Social media are inundated with people who spent all week ranting and finding new complaints to rant about. No wonder why people “detox” from social media, namely those who are still butthurt and upset over the results.

Here is my suggestion: create and write a blog. No one wants to spend their time on Facebook reading a 1,000+ word blog. No one cares, except for those who are interested in reading your thoughts.

Or hit up Medium and Huffington Post, where pretty much anyone can write for them (I would advice Medium. I hear that Huff Post has a reputation of not paying their bloggers).

With that in mind, since I do have a blog, and 1300 words to hammer out…

…there are several observations that stood out to me during the last two  election cycles (2014 and 2016): disgruntled voters, lack of quality candidates, and an identity crisis.

Let me preface: I’m not a political analyst or some campaign insider, nor am I a Democrat, Republican, or a  Communist.

  • When faced with deciding between two unpopular candidates, nearly half (roughly 47%) of the eligible electorate said “screw this” or “no thanks” and did three things…
  1. …either they voted for a third-party presidential candidate…
  2. …they did not mark a presidential candidate on their ballot. They voted for everyone else, but they were not going to be pressured to vote for two of the unpopular candidates in American history to date…
  3. …or they didn’t vote at all.

There is no such thing as the lesser of two evils. In the eyes of many voters, both of them were unfit to run the United States.

Rebuffed for President for a 2nd time, Hillary Clinton will have to figure out her next chapter.
Rebuffed for President for a 2nd time, Hillary Clinton will have to figure out her next chapter.

This is the candidate’s fault for not doing enough to prove to those voters that they best represent those voters’ views. It was clear that a sizable number of the electorate did not feel that both Clinton and Trump represented their views.

You want more voters to support your candidate?  Tell your candidate to do better next time. Check that, demand it. Tell your candidate not to be a disconnected jerk to potential voters. Voters are not stupid. They can see through bullcrap. After all, they are the ones who voted for that person.

It is an indictment on both Democrats and Republicans: they only cater to certain groups and shut out those that they really need. Mind you, some Democrats, notably Sanders supporters, bail on the Dems and supported Jill Stein. Some Republicans bailed out and supported Gary Johnson.

Time and time again, voters’ displeasure of the dog-and-pony show in Washington have built up to a boiling point. Continued gridlock, “politic-speak”, posturing, and egos have been the norm. It also doesn’t help that there is more distrust of the political infrastructure as it relates to how much money and power is permeated within both political parties.

Straight cash, homie. 

  • 2014 should have been a wake-up call, but 2016 provided a harsh reality:  the talent pool of elected officials are weak, crappy, and awful. There’s no way to sugarcoat it.

Iowa State Senator Rob Hogg was the leading Democratic candidate to go up against Chuck Grassley in the U.S. Senate race. Then, out of nowhere, the powers that be at the DNC endorsed former Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge to run for the Senate seat. Maybe it was Judge’s name brand over a lesser known Hogg.

Hogg never had a chance as Judge defeated him in the primary, and was the Democratic candidate against Grassley.

Everyone knew she had no chance.  The cows in the pasture knew she had no chance.

Judge got clobbered in the general election.

Hogg would have been a new face and possibly brought a new line of thinking and opportunity. The DNC didn’t see it that way, for whatever odd reason.

Here in Iowa, the Congressional delegation was re-elected. Very typical of Iowa voters: we keep sending incumbents back. That’s what we do.

  • Which leads into this observation: today’s Democratic Party and Republican Parties are at a crossroads.

They have an identity crisis.

The old-school establishment of both parties got “trumped” by a loose cannon with a brand who was not going to play their game. He played his own game…and won. The biggest losers were the Republicans and the Democrats.

"They laugh alike, they walk alike, and sometimes they even talk alike..." The Republicans and Democrats are both identical in that they have some rebuilding to do in their organization and with those who support them.
“They laugh alike, they walk alike, and sometimes they even talk alike…” The Republicans and Democrats are both identical in that they have some rebuilding to do in their organizations and with those who support them, after getting cold-cocked by Donald Trump.

Voters have no faith in government to operate and do things in the best interest of the public. Secondly, the attack against the media is fair, but let this famous story about Leslie Stahl and the Reagan White House teach you that no matter how much the media tries to tell a story, campaigns and viewers will see another story.

Mass chaos was bound to happen…but this wasn’t the  candidate or the perfect storm everyone expected.

Or was it??

It’s time for both political parties to seriously look at themselves in the mirror and figure out how to change with the times and the evolving world, because whatever they are doing, it’s not working, and last week it showed.

The Dems went through that in ’68, and the GOP did the same after Watergate. It takes something pretty big to make organizations, people, and entities to refocus and shift priorities to keep up.

Both Dems and GOP had internal fighting and strife among their ranks. GOP members distancing themselves from Trump on one end, and Bernie Sanders supporters who steadfastly refused to trust and support Clinton and her campaign.

As Strother Martin said in “Cool Hand Luke”

No, enhancing social media, pushing more absentee voting, or getting on MTV to do town halls isn’t going to entice voters to come back to the fold. And no, running out celebrities to tell people to vote isn’t going to work either…unless you’re gullible enough to listen to people who live in mansions in California and have little interaction with you unless you’re paying money to see them perform.

Who are the Democrats? Who are the Republicans? What do they stand for?

Do they represent everyone or only a few? Is it an open door policy or just the “establishment” reign supreme? Everyone knows that about the GOP, but as we learned publicly with the Sanders supporters, shutting out populist ideas in favor of the perceived “establishment” makes Democrats mirror Republicans to a “T.”

Will they continue to align themselves with the business world? Will they finally get around to addressing the African-American community and the continuous issues involving race and human treatment, or will they talk about the black community to the white audiences that they are trying to court? That’s pretty much with Clinton and Trump were doing according to ESPN’s Bomani Jones.

The silly notion of whites shaming each other for anything is more amusing than anything I’ve ever seen.

Being out of touch isn’t good for both of them. Not willing to “change up” their game will make voters consider walking away from both in the future.

A quick fix isn’t going to work. Similar to 1968 and Watergate, it’s going to take several years for Dems and GOP to figure out who they really are and what direction they are going from this point forward. Disgruntled voters will seek other candidates and organizations that mirror their views. Sooner or later, that idealistic third-party will evolve and become an option.