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Election '08

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Open Letter to the Nation

Dear America,

Let me preface this by saying that I love my country. It is also my belief that the hallmark of a true friend is that they will tell you the things you don’t want to hear but that you need to hear. So understand that the things I am about to say, I say because I love this country.

Americans are lazy:

We spend an average of over four hours per day watching television. In that four hours you could run a marathon (2-3 hours – if you have trained well and want to win), play a round of golf (2-3 hours), walk around the block 20-25 times, read a newspaper or any number of things that could improve your mind and/or body. We instead choose to be spoon-fed information via television and then claim to have no time for anything like politics or personal betterment.

How does this laziness impact us? The most apparent impact is our gullibility as a nation. If somebody famous or known says something is true, we will jump on the bandwagon and defend their position angrily and even violently despite not having checked out the facts ourselves. We as a nation do this all the time. We listen to the claims of the people of notoriety such as politicians and celebrities and just assume they are right. Why? Are they smarter than us? No! Look at George Clooney or George W. Bush. They are not experts in the field of anything but looking good on TV. So why do we trust that their opinions matter more than our own? It’s easier than looking things up for ourselves and making informed decisions.

Americans spend an average of one hour per day watching, reading or listening to the news. Of that time the vast majority is spent on network news programs and mainstream press outlets. The problem with that is that the news programs have become all about ratings and titillation instead of providing unbiased information that allows people to make their own judgments about the deeper meanings behind the news. Anna Nicole Smith’s baby’s daddy was covered as news on CNN for days. Larry King who has done poignant interviews with people like Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela has been reduced to spending weeks-long periods of time covering dead strippers and jailed drunken starlets. Infotainment has replaced real news and Americans are overall just fine with it if the Nielsen ratings are any indicator. News outlets that might actually inform such as C-SPAN and Public Television which present alternative views and interpretations of the news that is relevant to our daily lives go virtually unwatched.

We as a society back bad plans and bad people because they sound good no matter whether they make sense or not. Case in point: Iraq. There were people screaming that the Bush administration’s case for war was a load of hooey and pointed to evidence as to why it was hooey but the administration version was really slick and sounded good so the vast majority of Americans followed along like good little sheep and backed the fools and their fool mission. Now in hindsight we look at the ones who stood up against the war as the visionaries. The truth is that they were not visionary, they were just not lazy. They checked the facts and saw the obvious holes in the Bush theories that everyone else ignored because it was easier to believe the lies than to find out the truth. We were fooled because we were lazy. Checking the facts might have cut into our TV time. God forbid that should ever happen.

Americans are ignorant:

Ignorance and stupidity are different things but can lead to the same results. Americans have the capacity to learn but we seemingly steadfastly refuse to do so. We have witnessed the demise of empires throughout history and seen how the hubris of the leaders leads to a downfall of the society. Despite having this knowledge we refuse to recognize the parallels in our own society. When someone points out the similarities, we ignore them and call them crazy.

In the face of our own history and things like Watergate, we close our minds to the possibility that our president and vice-president might have done things that were unspeakable in the interests of personal gain. If someone recognizes a pattern of corruption in the actions of a leader they are labeled a “conspiracy theorist” and dismissed as being a crackpot.

In this vast information age with the internet and all its capabilities of finding volumes of information from around the world about virtually any subject, we still just accept what we see on the news and never look any deeper. We choose to be ignorant. It is not forced upon us. It is our own choice to not dig deeper.

What does ignorance cost us? It costs us our freedoms and choices. When we allow others to mislead us and simply back them up, we give them our choices. When we allow corrupt leaders to use their offices for personal gain we give up our freedoms in the name of their security. As leaders become more corrupt, they have to limit the people’s access to information in order to hide the things they do from scrutiny. Things like the U.S.A.P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) have eroded our freedoms to scrutinize the actions of our leaders but have not secured our ports, borders and other points of entry. Neither have they improved the safety of Americans overall. The government can find out what books you read but the library can’t even tell you that they were looking even if you have done nothing wrong. We let this and other laws pass because we were not paying attention and did not force our elected officials to scrap the bills before they became law. Our own willful ignorance took away our freedoms.

Americans are shallow:

This is perhaps our biggest shortcoming. We as a nation are so concerned with our “image” that we will bankrupt ourselves in order to buy things we don’t need. We are so concerned with saving face that we will not admit when we are wrong. We put so much importance on looking a certain way or having a certain thing that we allow ourselves to be consumed by it to the point of ignoring everything else going on around us. We are so afraid of looking “different” that we will not stand up for the things that we know are just and fair.

The cost of this societal shallowness is immeasurable. This core idea that image is “important” is at the heart of what is destroying our society in my view.

We need to realize that being “right” is not as important as being considered and thoughtful. “Right” is mostly subjective and often in our society is not accompanied by being factually accurate. Being on the winning side of an argument does not make you correct. It merely means that you won an argument. If you win the argument but are still ignorant of the facts, you are nothing more than a fool with a forceful personality and have quite possibly enabled another fool by winning them over to your uninformed viewpoint.

Clinging to objects as a measure of worth is folly. It only empowers those who control the goods when you are a slave to fashion or lifestyle. You relinquish your personal power when you allow others to tell you what you “must” have to be happy. You cheapen your decisions when they are made to follow the crowd. By basing decisions on need over want and conscience over current trends, you empower yourself and take back power from those who would control you through manipulation. By buying less, you also wrest some control back from those who use money to manipulate leaders and public policies.

Fairness and justice in a society require the involvement of the people within that society. If you are so afraid of looking different that you allow horrible things to be done in your name, you become as guilty as those who commit the acts themselves. Heroes are forged from the steel of a strong will and unbreakable conscience. When the citizens of a society stop doing the right thing for fear of ridicule, that society is doomed to destruction.

Conclusion:

Our society has a lot of failings and it also has a lot of potential. Because I love America, I have to stand up and point to the things we can do better. I must point out our failings because I am aware of them and to do less is to be unpatriotic. I do not claim to have all of the answers to America’s ills but I do know that if we don’t begin to take control of our country soon it will no longer be a country of “We the People”. Our leaders have shown their contempt for the people in their careless commitment of soldiers to wars without merit. They have shown their contempt for the Constitution by stripping our freedoms in the name of “national security” that manifests in reality as false security for the people and profits for the politicians and their friends. All this they have done and yet we still believe in them. It is time for “We the People” to take back that which we have given and stop being slaves to our comforts of mind and body.

We have choices. We can choose health over television. We can choose information over spin. We can choose to find enjoyment in books creating images in our minds rather than tiny pixels dancing in front of our eyes making us forget how to have an imagination. We can choose justice over rhetoric and symbolic gestures. We have but to make the choice. Our nation is ours to lose or gain. Will you choose the easy way or the heroic way? Will you choose to live in fear or stand up for the grand and proud America we have the ability to create? What will you tell your children and grandchildren about your life when you grow old? Will you tell them about all the stuff you had or will you tell them about how you made your country become once again the “Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave”? What will your American legacy be?

It's your call America.

Troy Wilson-Ripsom - Staff Writer | Give your feedback on this article. | Visit Troy's blog at http://reform-america.blogspot.com | Visit Troy's MySpace page at www.myspace.com/reform_america

Independent View from the Campaign Trail: Politics of Fear

Fear is a very potent ally to those who seek power and control. Fear keeps us dependent; fear keeps us defensive; and fear sells newspapers and garners television ratings.

Do the following statements sound familiar?

Terrorism - 7/17/07 - Washington - The terrorist network Al-Qaida will likely leverage its contacts and capabilities in Iraq to mount an attack on U.S. soil, according to a new National Intelligence Estimate on threats to the United States. The declassified key findings, to be released publicly on Tuesday, were obtained in advance by The Associated Press.

During the Illegal Immigration Debate - If we don't keep letting in millions of illegal immigrants we'll have no one to do all the menial jobs that keep the economy going and we'll have economic collapse because Americans won't do the work.

During the Health Care Debate - If we don't have universal "free" health care people will be dying in the streets and diseases will run rampant because people won't be able to afford the medicines they need.

These types of statements appear to be all we hear from politicians and political parties these days. Nothing but negative, doom and gloom and why only the government can save us from imminent death and destruction.

What happened to the America that believed in itself and believed that we could accomplish just about anything if we put our mind to it. What happened to the America that put men on the moon? What happened to the America that solved problems and that was looked up to by the rest of the world?

Politicians and their divisive political parties are what happened.

If we, as a nation, are willing to believe in ourselves and believe in our abilities to solve problems by working together, then we don't need the politicians and their government programs as much as they want us to think we do. I, for one, believe anything is possible if we work together.

So back to the negative statements that started this article.

We've been hearing that Al-Qaida has been out to kill us all since the 9/11 attacks and it is probably true. However, what is the purpose of the government continuing to tell us that we are in imminent danger of attack? Is it so that we will be more vigilant? They are not asking us to do that. Do they want us to all go out and arm ourselves in case of attack? No, most governmental officials would prefer that we have no way of defending ourselves so that we are totally beholden to the government for protection. No, the entire purpose of continuing to remind us that Al-Qaida is going to kill us all any day is to mentally make us more reliant on the government every day for our protection, safety and welfare. That is not the American way.

Let's talk about the illegal immigrant problem. The main reason everyone likes illegal immigrants is because they do, for the most part, work hard and, more importantly, they work cheap. There are always people to do just about any job for the right wage, but when you can get illegal workers to do it for less, why not. Would the economy have collapsed if we didn't have millions of illegal immigrants doing all sorts of menial jobs? I doubt it. Someone would have done the work; it just may have cost a little more to get it done. Out here in California we have a fast food chain called In-N-Out. They sell hamburgers, a lot of hamburgers and have somewhat of a cult following. They are also privately held, make a lot of money and pay their employees better than almost every other fast food restaurant there is in Southern California. It's amazing, but you go into an In-N-Out and it is full of legal, high-school age kids who are working hard and making a decent wage for their work. According to the pro-illegal immigration people, these workers really shouldn't exist because no American will do those jobs. There are lots of examples like this. So why the fear? Because it gives politicians more control over the country.

I spoke about health care in my last article and probably don't need to go over it again other than to say that this is the Presidential Election's #1 Fear. Each party is claiming that they have the only real solution to the health care crises so you'd better vote for them or people will be dying from lack of health care. What we will get instead is another "Patriot Act" of health care that will be cobbled together on the fly to get someone elected, because it sounds good. Chances are, in all practicality it will probably hurt more people than it helps.

My point in all this is that we need a leader to emerge from this next election who will do what is best for Americans and America in both the short and long run. Will accentuate the positive and do their best to keep the negatives down to a minimum. Nothing good ever gets done as a result of governmental policies developed out of fear mongering and no country ever moved forward based on fear. Fear only causes people to hold back and not progress forward. That is what our politicians want us to do today so that they can continue to expand their hold on everything we do in our lives and gather more power to themselves.

Maybe this if fear mongering on my part, but it is what I see happening more and more every day.

My campaign slogan says it all, "Anything is Possible in America". I truly believe that and believe that doing what is best for America is the same as doing what is best for each individual American.
Frank McEnulty - Independent Candidate for President | Give your feedback on this article. | Visit the campaign website www.frankforpresident.org today.

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