Monthly Archives: August 2016

Lead Like Jesus

This weekend I was in a bar and a friend that I rarely see came up to me and pulled me over to her table.  Immediately she descended upon me.

“I can’t even be your friend anymore. You are so stupid and your blog is so idiotic that I de-friended you on Facebook. I don’t want to have to see your trash. I can’t believe you are such an idiot!”

“And….how are your drinks?” I replied.

A friend of hers at the table asked, “Is he a liberal?”

My friend continued, “He’s a stupid liberal.”

Caught off guard by this unexpected assault, I smiled and said, “So, I’m guessing you guys like…Trump?”

“Anyone is better than (the whole table in unison) Hillary! Or OBAMA!”

“Well,” I said trying to re-calibrate reality, “My business is stable, unemployment is down, corporate reserves are great…yeah, I feel pretty good about him.”

“What ?” snapped one of her friends.  “He’s the worst President in history!”

I could hear my inner voice making a choice. “Should I go after this or will that turn ugly…or should I just turn the other cheek and walk away?”

I was more than willing to have a sensible conversation, listen to their evidence, compare it to mine, eventually settling into beers and a few laughs, but this crowd was enraged by the mere fact that I was a liberal and were not about to offer anything except: “You’re stupid and we can’t talk to you!”

Feeling a bit too defensive at this point, I countered with, “You can disagree with me, but I don’t think stupid is something you can call me…”

I feigned a laugh and walked away. I heard someone say, “He can’t even make an argument.”

Heavy sigh.

Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t do this to incite anger, I do this for civil debate where ideas can be argued, even aggressively, and more often than not, where we can “agree to disagree,” but what I encountered here was rage.

If I thought this was an isolated incident I wouldn’t be writing about it today but I believe that this is the heated “conversation” being waged in bars, restaurants, barbeques and town halls all over America.

I always make an effort to find a clearer perspective and so the next morning, I opened up my blog and re-read the past month of posts, looking for unfair analysis or extreme bias.  I will concede that if I were a Republican/Conservative I certainly wouldn’t conclude that Gary Kroeger loves all of my politics, but I am pretty confident that I would engage him (as many of my friends do) and it wouldn’t be with fury.

I know this because I do have Republican friends, some of whom are in positions of party authority and we have respectful, even enjoyable relationships.

I am not a Democrat or a liberal without my reasons, just as the Republicans and conservatives I respect are justly so for their reasons, but a lion share of the public is finding their position from an emotional allegiance without using logic.

Information is how we calibrate our compass when navigating the waters of opinion and the overwhelming evidence in my observation is that the Republican party is being steered by extreme elements that cater to a theocratic, imperialist doctrine.

Therein lies the problem.  If you look at modern Republican/Conservatism there no consistent connection to even their own history.

Lincoln it can be argued was socially progressive.  Eisenhower embraced many progressive ideas that are anathema to today’s Republican/Conservatives; social programs, social security, unionization, healthcare reform.

Eisenhower even warned us all, having been the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in WWII, against the growth of the “Military-Industrial Complex.”

Barry Goldwater understood that Christian zealotry could not be allowed to control conservative philosophy.  Nixon gave us the EPA and proposed health care reform similar to “Obamacare.”  Ronald Reagan (the standard by which every conservative is now measured) supported social security and was quoted to say, “Church and State are, and must remain, separate.”

You’ll find very few touch points by which to compare today’s Republicans to a consistent ideology that connects them throughout history.

“God and the Bible” is a familiar rally cry to crystalize conservatives with their beliefs, and while there is nothing wrong with being a proud Christian and believing in the Bible, what is fundamentally wrong is to believe you are a truer American because of those beliefs.

This is the difference I consistently observe between political affiliations and why I align with liberalism and the Democratic Party.  Liberals and Democrats define themselves with terms of inclusion, not exclusion.  We don’t say, “I am a Democrat because I am a Christian.”  We are more likely to say, “I am a Democrat because I believe all religions, or even lack of faith, belong in a free country.”

We are more likely to say when identifying our adherence to the Constitution that “Liberals believe in the civil rights the Constitution guarantees to all Americans regardless of personal orientation.”

We are more likely to say, “I love America because of the nobility of her promise of Freedom” than we are to say, “America never apologizes.”

This brings me back to the confrontation this post started with.

I’m not stupid because I’m a Liberal or a Democrat.  I’m stupid because I can’t do algebra.

I’m not a Liberal or a Democrat without reasonable, thoughtful and researched information and observations made throughout my life that compel me to align with what I believe to be more relevant in the fight for human rights, and peaceful and healthy existence.

Many people might call those Christian values.

If you are a Conservative and a Republican because you believe history reveals a better realization of your values, then fine, you’re not stupid either…you just might require less evidence.

 

Education Must Resonate

This link was sent to me at the end of the last school year:  https://msg.schoolmessenger.com/m/?s=P7Mxhkr5lN8

When I first began to think about running for public office, I asked friends, already in office, what moved them to take the leap into the political arena. They all had different sets of priorities with regard to issues, but all had one thing in common.  They all said, in varying ways:  “There was one issue that stood above all others, that told me that something has to be done.  Now.”

That resonated clearly with me. And the answer to that question, for me, was:  Education.

Education is the issue that I believe defines economics, opportunity, progress and quality of life. Education is essential to our representative democracy, to our ingenuity, production, and stability.  The creation of thinking minds is the foundation of justice, equality, civility, and freedom.  Furthermore, great schools are what attract businesses and promote the highest standards of quality.  In long and in short, our educational system, from the buildings themselves to the curriculum, teachers, and students that occupy them, are what lead us to greatness.

Education in Iowa has been marginalized by budgets that don’t meet the needs of our schools and force regent universities to increase tuitions, making them less affordable. The education crisis is exacerbated by our Governor’s (and complicit members of the Iowa Legislature) insistence on increasing corporate welfare and reducing what Iowa needs to support its infrastructure; ironically, the very things that attract businesses.  It is a state imposed Catch-22 where special interests have cut off the nose of our greatest special interest:  Our future.

Here is that link again:  https://msg.schoolmessenger.com/m/?s=P7Mxhkr5lN8

The Cedar Rapids School System is articulating the entire issue right here.  And this is a paramount reason as to why I am running for the Iowa House of Representatives: