The long con: It’s either ours or theirs for the taking.

Trump, possibly unbeknownst to him, is giving us every opportunity to take and create change in our government, but we might just be too short-sighted to take them.

Prior to the election, as all politicians do, he made promises. Drain the swamp. Build the wall. Make America great again.

I’ve been quiet here, watching what he’s actually been doing. I’ve been reading both sides of the ‘debate.’ I’ve found some common threads that We, the People, are failing to take advantage of.

Let’s go back to the 2016 campaign and election.

People were fed up, on both sides. There is no more crossing the aisle to find commonality. There is no more collaboration. Counteroffers are a thing of the past. Compromise is seen as weakness. Corruption is the sign of the times.

Go a bit further back for a good example: When the AHCA (Obamacare) was drafted, opponents of the project created exactly ZERO counteroffers, collaborative ideas, or anything that crossed the aisle to compromise and provide anything resembling a solution that is best for us. “It must be stopped at all costs,” they cried. They charged with a call of “No quarter” as they rushed into battle. They lost. Their opponents met their cry with their own, and offered no quarter. No compromise. No real solution

The corruption, on both sides put the Party and the needs of the bankrolls which support them in front of the needs of the citizenry. We, the people, were placed behind personal gain and re-election campaign funds.

The fault is all of theirs, shared equally. We, the people, were left with a plan that just managed to give a few people a health care benefit, at the expense of actual progress. This was done, of course, for the insurance companies, the group who would lose the most in a just and honest compromise that would cut at the profitability of insurance companies and provide the best option for We, the people.

Go back a little further, 2008. Financial crisis. Plans are drafted to use public funds to bail out private business.

Counteroffer? Not there.

Compromise? Nope.

Blame? Of course.

Corruption? Definitely.

The controversial plan was proposed on Sept 20, 2008 and enacted on Oct 3. That isn’t even a single pay period for bi-weekly paychecks. That’s how fast those people were to make this decision.

Of course, it also led to some institutions giving huge amounts of that money, as bonuses, to their employees.

I know there are more examples than this, but the only point here is to show how corrupt the economic and political structures have become. There is no need for furthering this part of the discourse.

 

Now, let’s go back to the 2016 election.

One side promotes a candidate who is the epitome of political corruption: tomes have been written about this.

Another side promotes a candidate who is the epitome of economic corruption: again, tomes have been written about this.

The people, fed up with political corruption, want a change. Economic corruption wins the day, kind of.

So, where is the opportunity for us, for We, the People, to enact the changes?

Look at two key things:

He wants to drain the swamp.

“The swamp” is the political corruption, our elected officials. Our ballots are constantly full of corrupt officials who won’t leave because it’s too lucrative in the swamp and they can change the rules to match their desires because they have all the power centralized in their hands.

Every nomination was made that, on the surface, appears to keep the swamp operating at full capacity. By replacing the existing swamp with his own swamp, it shows the corruption that underlies the act.

Again, tomes have been written, so let’s look at a single instance in a bit more depth to try and appreciate what it could mean.

He picks an awful (to many citizens) candidate for the Secretary of Education. This candidate is given an almost-immediate approval after the confirmation hearings. Split, for upholding a look of “disapproval,” fairly evenly along party lines.

Let’s look at this whole Department of Education thing a little closer.

Federal spending on Education policy is a negative return on investment, they only provide a small portion of total school funding, yet mandate all of the legislative requirements for obtaining this money.

The table linked below shows what each state got from the feds for education in FY 2014. Look at Alabama, since it’s the first one. They received 221.5 million dollars from the federal government for K-12 education funding. That sounds like a lot, right? Well, to most of us, it is.

Education funding comes from 2 main sources, though. Let’s look at the other main source: State level funding. The state of Alabama’s approved budget for FY 2014 allocated 4 billion dollars for (K-12) education funding. Let’s write those numbers out long form:

Total Federal funding $221,560,638
Total State of Alabama funding $3,998,609,672
Federal funding as a percentage of total funding 5.54%

How about California, they get 1.7 billion dollars in federal funding, how does their table hold out?

Total Federal funding $1,690,050,477
Total State of California funding 76,616,000,000
Federal funding as a percentage of total funding 2.206%

How about Texas, they get over a billion dollars too.

Total Federal funding $1,319,972,718
Total State of Texas funding

$18,718,316,568.00

 

Federal funding as a percentage of total funding 7.05%

————————————————————

Federal funding data taken from: https://ed.gov/about/overview/budget/history/sthistbypr14.pdf

State of Alabama funding data taken from: http://www.lfo.state.al.us/PDFs/FY2014Spreadsheets/ETF/ETF_FY_2014_AS_ENACTED.pdf

State of California funding data taken from: http://www.cde.ca.gov/fg/fr/eb/k12allfundsources14.asp

State of Texas funding data taken from: https://tea4avfawcett.tea.state.tx.us/Fsp/Reports/ReportSelection.aspx

————————————————————

Well, it appears that federal education spending doesn’t provide a significant amount at the state level.

Now, let’s look at the negative return on investment.

An individual state earmarks that money as part of their duty to provide educational opportunities to their citizens. The citizens of each individual state pay taxes specifically for it. The educational improvement of the citizens of the state is possibly greater for having that funding come from their taxes.

Let’s look at the Federal level. To get that 2%-7% of total funding.

In order to get that relative pittance, states must abide by federal mandates.

In order to provide that, the government must take money from a different area and allocate it to education, which is not mentioned in the constitution. This federal funding didn’t even start until 1965.

What does this mean?

This is actually vital, that’s why I went into such detail on it.

If, at the federal level, the Depart of Education proposes policies that states disagree with, or the citizens feel as though this is an unavoidable situation, this presents an opportunity to pressure our states to adopt their own policies that overwrite federal policies showing that the net loss is approximately 5% of total education funding, and providing States’ Rights: allowing states to choose their own legislation.

This makes the Federal Dept of Education irrelevant, fires the Sec of Education, and frees up money for other areas of the budget.

But We, the People are failing. We aren’t demanding this, instead we spend our time yelling about the merits of the Sec of Education. We live in fear of abandoning the large central government in much the same was as the corrupt swamp thrives on it.

We fear that, if we back out of federal education laws, individual states won’t have the budget, desire, or will, to continue offering education. This likely won’t happen. The constitution mandates that individual states provide public education.

We fear that, if we back out of federal education laws, individual states will fight for enrollment and population growth, so they can get more tax money. This is already happening. States fight very hard for new business development, and the growth it brings to their population and tax base.

We worry about charter school mandates. If we leave the federal plans, we can forget about all that and do what We, the People think is best. No more additional second guessing at a federal level.

We are seeing more corruption now than ever before. We are also seeing more political activity than any point in this country’s recent history.

If it isn’t Our long con, it’s could be theirs.

I don’t know if that’s his long con, and I don’t really care. We are dropping the ball on the chances we can make from what we are given.

Look at what happened immediately after he dropped out of the Paris climate agreement at the federal level, several states and cities immediately, and publicly, said they will support it. Undermine the federal mandates.

There are many other ways states are asserting their authority, one of which is marijuana legislation.

This is our long con: remove the power from the swamp. By the time those in the swamp realize they hold less power, power will have been transferred to the state level, where the swamp is less polluted with corruption. and where recall elections are more frequent.

We, the People, must take action to destroy the swamp, not just paying lip service to someone the idea of draining it.

The belated call to protest the political convention results is a red herring.

Please note, in this post I will discuss the broad concept of protesting the political party decisions as it applies to both parties in the 2016 presidential campaign. Future readers, note that the Republican Party was split over the selection of Donald Trump and the Democratic Party was split over the selection of Hillary Clinton. This post will address both of these issues neutrally, this isn’t ‘taking sides’ or ‘sour grapes’ as some might call it.

 

In order to have a protest, there must be a minimum of two things: protesters and a responsive party.

Protesters, obviously, are those who stand together, united, for or against, a common cause. This group can consist of almost anyone, especially in our country, where “We, the People” have the right to peaceably protest.

In terms of effecting change, however, it is also important to have someone who will listen and can act in some manner upon the object of the protest; a responsive party.

Unfortunately, in the case of a national political convention, the parties most qualified to act upon the protest of their decisions are those same political parties. Herein lies the problem.

The protest of a political convention’s results would be heard by the media, who are so politically polarized that they couldn’t say anything for fear of a backlash from “the other side,” and the government.

There are several problems with the concept of protesting the government to the government. One is that politicians tend to claim membership to a political party and, therefore, are faced with a conflict of interest when asked to protest said party.

Another is that “We, the People” have allowed politicians to pursue a lifelong career in politics. This means that standing with the protesters and demanding change would be political suicide and, for a career politician, would lead to an early end of said career.

A third is that politicians and governments tend to do what their leaders tell them to do. This would be simple enough, had “We, the People” demanded they remain our leaders and prevented them from bowing to any other interest aside from ours. The reality is that they would first appeal to their leaders in their political parties. Then they would then appeal to those who lead their policy making decisions, namely financial contributors.

Appealing to the opposite party would also fail. The opposing party doesn’t really have any concern to ensuring the opponent was being just and fair, that typically leads voters to stray from the party seen as “unjust” or “unfair”. But it’s especially important to keep this in mind: during this election both parties were facing scrutiny, from outside the party and from within, for their decisions of candidates, so neither of them had a “high ground” to stand from in addressing any protest about corruption.

So, yes, we could have protested the results, but nobody would have been receptive to our calls.

Dear America

Dear America,

On November 8, 2016, “We, the People” got what we deserved. “We, the People” are ALL to blame for what happens during the campaign and on election day. Nobody can wash their hands of anything by saying “I voted for the other candidate” because that isn’t how Democracy is designed.

In the past, “We, the People” were a population who would stop at nothing to prevent blatantly corrupt candidates being selected for office. Now, and for the past several elections, “We, the People” have become a group of people who will stop at nothing to line up to denounce our citizenship because “We, the People” don’t like the candidates.

Again, “We, the People” are getting what we deserve. “We, the People” marginalize everyone in the manner the media indicates. The voter apathy of 30 years ago – the “I don’t care who wins, so long as I’ll be able to keep making money and having fun” mindset – has devolved into willful ignorance – a “Don’t talk to me about politics; I don’t care and I don’t want to hear about it” mindset.

“We, the People” have been so uninvolved in the changes we claim to want, yet we haven’t mustered a single strong movement in nearly 40 years. Even after the hotly contested 2000 presidential election results, when there was an outcry over the electoral college, “We, the People” went right back to our chosen forms of entertainment, and we ignored the issues  with the passage of time.

Have I mentioned yet that “We, the People” are getting exactly what we deserve?

“We, the People” claim to be one nation, yet we act as though we are several different nations. “We, the People” no longer listen to opposing viewpoints, even though they may be accurate, because we are too busy talking about our own thoughts and beliefs. “We, the People” allowed a presidential candidate to ”elevate” to high-profile hate-monger status, and we championed him for it.  Americans came together more around hatred than any other sentiment, emotion, or ideology.

No, I don’t support Trump, but I’m not surprised for a second that he is the president-elect. Honestly, I get Trump.

I’ve seen the same ads for products that he has sexualize everything: from shampoo and chewing gum to cars and breakfast cereals, and everything in between, in order to make a profit.   I’ve seen this my whole life, so I get how someone would think it’s OK to say & do the things he’s said & done regarding women.

I’ve seen how people who don’t fit the “accepted by rich white people standards” scenarios are portrayed in the media my whole life, the same as he does, so I get how a person could judge others to be inferior based solely on a singular quality & trait. I get that.

I’ve seen how scumbags like Brock Turner get caught in the act of raping someone, but get sentenced to only 3 months in county jail because of their status, so I get that he thinks he can do whatever he wants because of his status.

I’ve seen what Hillary Clinton was called and accused of, and I’ve read the articles and WikiLeaks, so I get that people think Trump was the lesser of two evils.

I’ve seen how, from birth, we’re trained to see authority as “evil” – from our parents punishing us for what we did wrong all the way up to hating our bosses for asking us to work overtime – so I get that people think it’s OK for authority figures to be evil.

I’ve seen how this plays out in our history, too. Hate the natives enough? Band together to fight them. Hate the British enough? Band together and fight them. Hate anyone enough? Band together and fight them.

I’ve seen bridges collapse and power outages spread across half the country, with no call to update the infrastructure, so I get that we don’t expect anyone in charge to fix any of this for us.

I’ve seen a minority of zealous believers follow through on bizarre and dangerous actions, so I get that there is a desire to keep this from happening, no matter the cost.

I’ve seen that there is so little good in some people that, if given the chance, they’ll avoid making a choice, because it causes them immediate and direct discomfort – even so much as avoiding an annual checkup for fear of that needle used for blood tests – so I get that people wouldn’t want to venture out of their comfort zones to actually make a difference.

Through our inaction, we have created a society that encourages white males to idolize people who act and think like Trump. How could he have lost?

Do “We, the People” get it yet? They gave us the candidates they wanted, because nobody has been doing anything to demand, or produce, better options.

“We, the People” resorted to yelling and screaming, succumbing to the rhetoric and hate speech…. on both sides.  Through the entire campaign fiasco, nobody once tried to be the better person, to not “stoop to the same level,” and to rise above.  Neither candidate actually took a stand on issues and laid out plans for the economy, the infrastructure, or foreign policy, but, more importantly, “We, the People” didn’t insist on it. “We, the People” did nothing, so they did exactly what they wanted.

“We, the People” let the electoral college stay in place, even though it has been nothing but problematic for decades.  Sixteen years since that highly contested 2000 election, and still no call to action? No demands placed upon congress? None. “We, the People” sat down and expected the presidents, who are the sole beneficiaries of this archaic program, to do something to change it. Honestly, will any person, who just won any campaign because of a system that this person has called “broken” and “rigged” do anything to change it? Of course not! Sure, the system is broken…but only for the loser, not for the victor.

The victor never has to worry about changing something because the structure is in place.

“We, the People” sit back and wait for Congress – who decides whether or not they get a raise – to decide it’s time to cut Congressional pay.

“We, the People” sit back and wait for Congress to vote to pass term limits. Why, so they can go back to jobs they’ve likely forgotten how to do?   So they would walk away from cushy jobs with never-ending income for a chance to be a lawyer again?

Remember those people who broke the law by refusing to sit at hearings for a supreme court justice for almost a year? “We, the People” voted them back into office.

Let me reiterate this for emphasis: “We, the People” are getting exactly what we deserve.

Do “We, the People” really want change? If so, why haven’t “We, the People” been demanding it all these years?

Donald Trump ran for office promising that he would bring change, that he was an outsider to the corrupt political system. His first actions will be to fill his cabinet and select his aides and advisors. As an outsider, he would be expected to break the status quo on this. Instead, his first action was to dip right in to the choir of Same-Party Followers, just like every other corrupt politician before him. This makes it obvious from the start that he was not an outsider to the corrupt political game.

This election “We, the People” were asked to flip a coin. On one side, “We, the People” were shown the embodiment of the corrupt political structures that turned public service into a high-paying career. On the other side, “We, the People” were shown the embodiment of the corrupt economic structures that influence law making to such a degree that they routinely get free passes for their actions.

Many people think politics are more corrupt than economics. Well, it’s not. Remember the financial crisis that peaked in 2008? The one in which Bush passed a bill and bailed the banks out? (Also remember that “We, the People” can’t blame Obama, since he didn’t take office until 2009, and that bill was passed in October of 2008). Nobody stood up and demanded the law that was passed to allow this bailout be repealed. Those who knew in advance that they would emerge victorious allowed it to continue. “We, the People” sat back and watched it happen.

Regardless of the outcome, this was a significant meeting between the corruption of economics and the corruption of politics after which, “We, the People” sat back and watched… again. “We, the People” demanded nothing and, frankly, that’s what they gave us.

Clearly this is happening on both sides of the political spectrum. Look at what happened when Obamacare, a push for a much-needed healthcare reform, was proposed. It wasn’t the perfect plan for “We, the People”. It wasn’t necessarily even a good plan. The problem is that it was the only plan they showed us, and “We, the People” didn’t demand more, so it won by default. “We, the People” did not insist that there be a counter-plan. “We, the People” did not insist that both sides of the spectrum work together. “We, the People” did not insist that the plan be examined by impartial third parties. “We, the People” did not insist on seeing real simulations of potential outcomes impacting real life scenarios. “We, the People” were given what they wanted to give us.

Throwing insults at opponents isn’t a new strategy. Nor is ignoring another’s opinion. Ignoring advice because you don’t like the source isn’t new either. The fact is, these are easy strategies, and there exists a tendency to rely on something easy. The comfort zone, the life routine, the hope that someone else will volunteer for the difficult assignment.

The easy thing to do is to avoid.  Avoid living beyond your own needs and desires.  Avoid seeing the struggles of others.  Avoid empathy.

The difficult thing to do is just the opposite.  To listen to those with whom you disagree.  To observe what’s happening beyond your comfort zone.

We’ve been doing the easy thing for so long that the hard thing has now become a mountainous obstacle course which we go out of our way to avoid, because that mountain looks very difficult compared to the path around it.

But that’s what we do. We chose “easy”, and continue to choose “easy”. We chose to do this. We chose not to act when the signs kept appearing over all these years.

The republican politicians are calling to “work together,” which is quite the opposite of what they’ve done for the democrat politicians.  The democrat politicians also say the same thing when their candidate wins, so their opinion is also invalid.  None of them are working together; they are working for themselves and their party, and against “We, the People.”

Furthermore, when a politician says “work together,” they are only referring to other politicians.  It’s not a call for “We, the People” to form solidarity. There is strength in numbers, as evidenced by those inciting violence in Trump’s name and those inciting violence against him in protest. These aren’t individuals harassing others; these are groups of people who have come together to harass and abuse others. Empowered and emboldened by a president-elect who, as of this writing, 3 days into the violence, has not said anything to distance himself from this violence.  In fact, during the campaign, he called for such acts, condoning them before they could occur. In fact, at this point, it could be considered that saying anything against this violence would come out more as “Alright, enough is enough, don’t go too far” instead of “Hey everyone, solidarity doesn’t mean beat the other people up.”

Additionally, four years ago, he denounced the electoral college and the entire election process when Obama was reelected. Now that the electoral college could be the sole reason he is considered “president-elect.” Of course, this tweet has now been deleted, because he is not an outsider, he is the same level of hypocrisy he claimed to be pushing aside.

“We, the People” are no longer the constituents of them – the political and economic elite. We have allowed ourselves to become “the voters,” called upon in times of federally mandated elections to “perform our civic duty” and “#voteIRL.”

“We, the People” have a civic duty far beyond that.  Our civic duty includes petitioning for a redress of grievances, protesting unfair treatment of any one of us, and demanding that change be made that benefits us.

“We, the People” now have what we deserve. “We, the People” have earned it through negligence of the rights of ourselves and others. “We, the People” haven’t demanded more, so we get what they want to give us.

“We, the People” call for hope, but “We, the People” must be that hope. “We, the People” cannot expect the politicians to fulfill our hope because our hopes are contrary to their best interests. Throughout history, change has not come from the victors; only through the downtrodden resisting the victors openly has change been achieved.

“We, the People” must not rest on the laurels of those who came before us and remembering them as great leaders and inspirations whom we know use as sources of quotes to inspire ourselves in our daily grinds. “We, the People” must honor their work by continuing the fight for our rights. “We, the People” must carve out a place for all of us: the obviously marginalized and oppressed, as well as the surreptitiously marginalized and oppressed. Those who crave violence and those who demand nonviolence. Those who fear big government’s imposition on us and those who think “We, the People” need strong guidance. United, “We, the People” will stand.  Divided, in any way, we will continue to kneel until we are sent to our graves.

“We, the People” need to accept that “We, the People” are many, with differing experiences, educations, thoughts, beliefs and values. Therefore, “We, the People” are free and welcome to disagree on issues, but “We, the People” need to discuss these issues civilly so that our leaders – corrupt or not – can see our example and understand that anything less is no longer acceptable.

“We, the People” must, once again, be the change we want to see. This time, “We, the People” must demand this from our leaders.  We must insist that those who cannot reflect the changes that “We, the People” demand need to be put on notice; that their time to lead must be shortened.