Jennifer Stewart

The Poor Wealthy

In Barack Obama, Bullies, Entitlement, Fear, stepping out of history, Success and Achievement, US Elections 2012, US Middle Class, Where Dreams Come True on November 12, 2012 at 5:25 pm

It’s always distressing to see people who either have all the outward show of being intelligent and well-educated or who are in positions of power behaving like the village idiot, clearly incapable of stepping back from themselves enough to look in the mirror. Granted, it’s a difficult thing to do, but one of the drawbacks of having power is that you have to use it wisely and to do that you have to examine your motives.

This is not about morality, it’s about practicality. Wield your power irresponsibly and mindlessly and you’ll reign supreme for a while, but ultimately whoever you’re trampling on will rise up against you with a force that your power can’t overwhelm. I’m not just talking about despots either, although they illustrate this beautifully. There’s almost a formula for how events play out.

They gain power undemocratically, or even democratically. Then it goes to their head and they begin to bleed their subjects dry. They surround themselves with sycophants, and convince themselves that they’re acting in the country’s best interests. Eventually they’re fit only for the lunatic asylum. One day their subjects begin to say we’ve had enough. They protest. They’re ignored. Their protests get louder and more physical.

Protesters get brutalized, arrested, violated. They get angrier and more violent. Further suppression follows, bloody and violent. Surprisingly no doubt to the despot, their power isn’t so effective any more. They go into denial. Their sycophants start deserting them. The world either intervenes or doesn’t but severely criticizes them and they become outcasts. They insist they are doing nothing wrong.

They refuse to leave. They say they will die in the country that they were born in. The sycophants that are left beat their chests with bravado as they nervously look around them and calculate the odds. The rebellion doesn’t stop, no matter how much and how bloodily the subjects are violated, no matter how more sophisticated the despot’s weapons of suppression.

The despot goes down still protesting. It never happens any other way, unless the despot has some capacity to step outside of themselves to look at the consequences of their actions and get out sooner. As in Egypt. In countries where the democratic process is more sophisticated, the violence is mostly absent, but the process is the same.

It’s always the middle class that starts out naive and believing, willing to work like dogs for the sake of God and country. Proud of their democracy, proud that change happens peacefully and that they can have a hand in it. Not always able to grasp the extent to which their good-heartedness and commitment get exploited. Not always that able to step outside of themselves either and see that they’re letting themselves be doormats.

But democracy has an inherent flaw. It’s supposed to be the best system for the exercise of freedom. It would work well in a country where there’s no greed, where leaders and all politicians genuinely work for the better of the individual and the country as a whole. But failing that perfect scenario, gradually greed and power takes less and less responsibility (pays less and less tax) and exploits the good qualities of the middle class who pay more tax and get lower salaries until their morale and their lives are eroded beyond endurance.

The erosion has only one possible ending. People start to protest! A new leader emerges who sees that the danger isn’t just imminent, it’s upon the country, and something has to be done to restore the middle class, because it’s always the engine of any society. The leader wants the middle class to get its just rewards, and for the wealthy to pay fair tax. The powerful class clings panic-stricken to its position, terrified of giving an inch. Which nicely reveals exactly how powerful they really are.

What’s mind-boggling is the childish transparency of their excuses. Namely if you raise taxes for the wealthy they will leave the country, you will discourage investors (the implication being that they only invest in the US because they can exploit and not contribute their fair share). The best one is that you will be taxing all the small businesses who will fold and job creation will cease. Enter John Boehner, with that sulky look on his face, moaning about the poor wealthy.

It’s mindless. Pity the seemingly civilized, educated, sophisticated individual who appears to not have much better of an understanding of what makes society run smoothly than a Middle Eastern despot.

Obama Wins Florida After All

In Barack Obama, stepping out of history, Success and Achievement, US Elections 2012, US Middle Class on November 11, 2012 at 2:13 pm

So all the swing states, including Florida, went to Obama after all, as I thought they would. How did CNN, the New York Times, and to a lesser extent the Huffpost, get it wrong, and how did I get it right? Luck of the draw? I don’t think so. Absent in polling is an understanding that giving your opinion is one thing, the reality of voting is another. Opinion has no consequence and in the case of those so-called undecided voters, it was often driven by powerful emotion.

Their lives had been difficult for a long time, they were afraid of things getting worse. They had a lot of ‘information’ thrown at them by the Romney campaign, very little of it truthful, much of it fear-mongering, but how were they to know that? Fear diminishes your capacity for rational thought. It happens to all of us.

But, the problem was that nobody really liked Romney. When you’re not a fanatic, it’s very hard to place your trust in somebody who either doesn’t know how to reach you and connect with you, or doesn’t think it’s important. Plus, he’s not a trustworthy politician. He’ll say what he thinks people want to hear. This is not the first time he changed his policies mid-way. He did it when he ran against Ted Kennedy.

He started both campaigns as a conservative, didn’t make enough headway, so became more moderate. People who want to get rid of a politician because he threatens their status quo or because he’s the wrong color, won’t care about this absence of backbone and deep-rooted conviction and they have no investment in rational thought. They’ll blind themselves to something we all instinctively know if we let ourselves admit it, that a man who betrays once will betray again. And who he betrays isn’t of much concern to him.

But even those Romney supporters didn’t really like him and their reasons for voting were not that he had great leadership qualities. He doesn’t have them. It’s ironic that all the impassioned rhetoric about rescuing the American economy and society from the claws of a socialist came from people who were willing to leave things in the hands of a patent liar. Romney did now and then irrevocably and openly expose the truth of who he is, mind you, when he said 47% of Americans were irresponsible victims and they weren’t his concern.

He consolidated that with another bit of truth about himself when he added, in his clumsy and not particularly intelligent attempt to patch things up, that in a campaign you tell your electorate what they want to hear. That must have really reassured his wealthy supporters. But they didn’t care. Now that kind of stupidity is what causes the demise of all civilizations.

I watched this circus and became pretty sure that the ‘undecided voters’ were obviously not  fanatics, and had no agenda in voting Obama out. I was sure they wouldn’t be able to blind themselves to Romney’s weaknesses or to how much he lied when it suited him, or to how much Obama connected with them at a humane level. They don’t like Romney but they do like Obama, not because he’s a con artist but because he’s a good man with powerful leadership qualities and a profound humanity.

He might not have turned the economy around sufficiently to completely alleviate their fear and discomfort, but he had succeeded enough against massive odds and despite great Congressional resistance, for them to see that he was a safer bet than Romney. That moment of voting is when the reality of consequence stares you in the face, when you realize that your choice could be the one that shapes your future. If you have an ounce of sense you cast your fears aside enough to think rationally, and you pick the safer bet.

I predicted that Obama would get all the swing states because I believed that the majority of Americans have that capacity. It’s easy to say you support somebody you don’t trust and don’t like. It’s very difficult to actually vote for them. People are so cynical about politics in the US, but I think they illustrate the degree to which its society has advanced in its capacity to make healthy choices that are truly about the improvement of their world, even if that improvement involves discomfort and challenge. And nothing could be more important than that.

President Obama’s Win – The Death Knell of Conservative Power

In Barack Obama, beliefs, Bullies, stepping out of history, Success and Achievement, US Elections 2012, US Middle Class, Where Dreams Come True on November 8, 2012 at 5:13 pm

It’s hard to believe the election is over. I feel privileged to be living in an era when so much change is happening, so much of it for the better of humanity. It’s easy to look at developing countries and the Middle East where people are so fighting so valiantly for really basic rights and believe that’s where all the action is happening.

But for me the US election was right up at the top there, too, although it’s manifesting in a far less violent way. America has always been at the forefront of the search for the kind of freedom that allows for a person’s rights to be respected and for their creativity and individuality to have the opportunity to flourish, whilst also contributing to community.

The balance is fine, and is a challenge for anybody to get even remotely right. In America, it’s constantly evolving as a social dynamic too. Whatever people say about this phenomenal country, nobody can deny that things are always on the move, which I think the results of this election illustrate beautifully.

Yesterday, once the results were in, CNN anchors and contributors started in like vultures on the gloom and doom. It was sickening. There was such an unwillingness to let the world celebrate something beautiful even for a day and to acknowledge what an extraordinary thing had happened. Richard Quest was like a dog with a bone about the stock markets crashing because Wall Street didn’t want Obama.

In fact, the crash had nothing to do with the election, it was a reaction to the drama in Europe, and by the end of the day it had slowed down significantly. But probably the strangest distortion was how everybody was saying that so many billions were spent on the election and nothing had changed. Everything has changed. The change in America is not about the logistics of a Democratic President still in power with a Democratic Senate and Republican Congress.

It’s about a fight for that balance in society, and for people’s rights to have it in their lives. It was about people waking up and realising how much they stood to lose if they didn’t fight. And because they did, this election has proved that the upsurge of conservatism in America was actually the death rattle of a way of life dominated by fear, greed and racism. If billions had to be spent for that to be achieved, it was money very well spent.

America will never go back from this point. The older, white conservative male Republicans, who formed the bulk of Romney’s supporters, are losing their power because minorities, younger people, and women are finding their voice. They’re passionate about their rights, passionate about their desire for a life of balance and a society that nurtures it. And unlike other countries around the world, they are not being imprisoned for it, or slaughtered.

And now they have a President who recognises that they embody the spirit of everything that once made America truly great. How can anybody say nothing has changed? Everything has changed. God Bless America for showing the world how to do it.

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