Thoughts of an Independent Voter

I have always been proud that I’m an Independent Voter and not part of either party. While I will admit, I lean one way or the other at times; I prefer to cast my vote for the candidate or issue that squares with my conscience. As hard as I might try, being a moderate right now is hard.

We live in a time when politics are driving personal relationships, and that I find is unacceptable. I have friends and family that I genuinely care about who are “hard right” and “hard left.” Where are the other Moderates? What has happened to common sense and the common good?

As we rapidly approach the general election, I am as concerned about the local races as I am the national. Those elected to serve our schools, cities, counties, and states will pass legislation that will impact our daily lives. In the past have voted a split ticket, and I will continue to vote for the person I believe will get the job done regardless of party.

Those serving in Congress and the White House must find ways to resolve the partisan politics tearing our country apart. Those in leadership are not working together to meet our countries needs. Wonder what would happen if there was a robust Independent candidate? A moderate who would work both sides of the aisle.

…that’s 30 today. And DON’T FORGET TO VOTE.

In Search of Civility and Kindness

I find it very interesting how family members and friends can have such strong and opposite opinions regarding elections. The tone, meaning of many comments are nothing more than cruel. Perhaps its social media and our rush to comment on a post that moves us one way or another.

We see family members who practically assail each other over a candidate, an issue, or a movement. People feeding off doomsday comments while others seem to be goading or attempting humor.

I’d love to see more kindness, civil discussion, and respect for what others think, say, and feel. I’m asking my family, friends, and contacts to help each other practice kindness as we near the general election. Will you join in?

…that’s 30 for now.

Speedy Delivery

I suspect our favorite mailman, growing up, Mr. McFeely, is turning over in his grave with the U.S. Post Office’s current status.

About two months ago, Louis DeJoy was appointed Postmaster General. In his first two months, he has reorganized the organization into three business operating units.

If memory serves me, the Post Office has struggled for many years. Much of it due to new technology, communications developments, and the evolution of new business models.

According to the Postal Service in the last 13 years, total mail volume has declined by 33 percent, and first-class postage has dropped by 42 percent. What amazes me is how the nation’s second-largest civilian employer (630,000 employees) let this get so far out of hand. Where is Congress?

I realize the Postal Service does not receive tax revenues and is a self-funding entity and have huge financial deficits. But, they are a vital operation to the U.S. economy, and the public interest. Yes, they must evolve. They surely need to investigate many potential operational and revenue opportunities.

Now they are caught in the nasty web of politics just months before the general election. Voting by mail makes sense and has been successful for many years in some states. The Postal Service has been the standard for other critical services like bill payments, payroll delivery, to name a couple of examples.

It seems to me that this vital service is a hostage in a time of much-needed reform.

…that’s 30, What’s your opinion?

Nonprofit Abuse

This week the Attorney General of New York made a bombshell announcement. She has filed suit, asking that the NRA be dissolved due to mismanagement, abuse of mission, corruption, and greed of several executives. Her lawsuit is a civil action, but she has not ruled out criminal charges.

Initial reactions claim political motivations, and gun rights concerns. The A.G. says the investigation leading to the suit began over 18 months ago. Another lawsuit has been filed by the A.G. of the District of Columbia, citing wrongdoing by the NRA’s charitable foundation.

There is little doubt that both legal actions will be a long-fought battle in the courts. Both efforts are focused on corruption and fraud and do not appear concerned with gun rights protected by the 2nd Amendment.

The lawsuit accuses the N.R.A. and the executives of “violating numerous state and federal laws” by enriching themselves, as well as their friends, families and allies, and taking improper actions that cost the organization $64 million over three years. 

NY Times

My initial thoughts are about the thousands of loyal NRA members/donors who put their faith in the organization. A few corrupt individuals have looted the organization of which they so strongly believe. I wonder if these individuals came to believe they were above the law? Or, that they have been doing this for so long, nothing would happen to them. As the Attorney General of New York said, no one is above the law.

…that’s 30 for today. What are your thoughts?

Prepositions at the Polls

Adam Ehlert shares his experience as a Poll Worker in the August 4th Primary

Prepositions at the Polls

With significant apologies to Honest Abe, I had three prepositions running though my brain all day: of, by and for.  “…That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

I had volunteered to be a Primary Day poll worker.  I’m not sure if I would fit into any of those prepositions that are so apt.  But I kept trying to figure out the proper placement for each player as I slogged through the 14-hour day.  

The for is pretty easy.  We The People are our own self-governed subjects.  We are in control of our government, and per our Constitution, have the ability to protect ourselves from tyranny.

The of is well down a slippery slope.  Our supposed citizen-legislature has turned into a professional ruling (pardon me—elected!) class.  If you’re one providing our governance, you’re in pretty good shape. 

I guess that makes my election-day cog a by (not that there’s anything wrong with that).  I am grateful that we are afforded the opportunity to dig in, to touch, to feel, and stick our arms in the sausage casings.  But at times it was almost that gross. 

In the small, suburban/rural-ish precinct that I and my four fellow co-workers worked, we processed just under 400 Primary voters.    Each and every citizen was allowed to exercise that right, and I am very proud to say that Johnson County, Kansas runs an election like a well-oiled machine (pun not intended).  The Election Office’s mantra is that “poll workers are: Professional, Orderly and Organized, and Courteous.” 

We had precious few surprises, and ever fewer problems.  The biggest was when, after fully being set up for the 7:00 opening bell, the voting machines had gone back to sleep.  Literally.  We began processing paper ballots for the dozen at the door, while our Supervising Official was on the phone with HQ.  Yes—they had gone back to sleep.  We had to use a flashlight (appropriately provided in all the supplies and manuals), to shine into the machines’ scanners, thereby bringing them back to function.  The smelling salts were apparently sent to another precinct….  In The Office’s defense, I think this was brought on by over-preparation.  We set up starting at 5:30—owing to anticipated large turnout—and that was 30 minutes earlier than usual.  The machines grew weary of their dormancy. 

We were prepared, and the system worked.  Especially in the Age of Covid.  The process was touchless (if of course none of the workers took short cuts, and of course if all the voters followed all instructions). 

There was some skepticism.  Two voters separately justified their request for a paper ballot.  There is no need to explain the logic, but one offered that he “wanted to make sure there was a paper trail.”  The other went out of his way to ensure we did not have an electronic paper trail as he winked his way to the secret carrels. 

More than a few voters cawed at the government-provided and virus-free pen/stylus, which was to ensure a touchless process.  Several closely inspected the swag for a “Made In _ _ _ _ _” sticker.”  “We already paid for it anyway, huh?” 

As we packed up equipment and reconciled reports, I remained thankful for our free and open process. 

And now a day after, I’m also glad for Will Rogers’ aphorism to “Be thankful that we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for.” 

…that’s 30 for today.

EMPATHY

We are please to post an essay by Adam Ehlert, Past District Governor of Rotary International, and the recent author of: Atrial Frustration, a Cardiac Arrythmia Saga, which debuted as Amazon’s #1 New Release in Cardiology. 

We are please to add an essay about Empathy, written by Adam Elhert, Past District Governor in Rotary International, and the recent author of: Atrial Frustration, a Cardiac Arrythmia Saga, which debuted as Amazon’s #1 New Release in Cardiology.”

Why has our society become so decidedly un-civil? 

Politics, of course, seems to drive it all.  And that is surprising, considering how much disdain we all seem to have for all in office.  Any office.  At the most basic statistic, Congress has not had the approval of even one-third of Americans in more than a decade.  The much-maligned “Dogcatcher” position is better-received. 

So, if we near-universally seem to despise politics (two-thirds for sure, anyway), why has our public discourse been so “dragged”—in the parlance of the day—by the nonsense of their realm? 

Is it train-wreck voyeurism?  Good old schadenfreude?  Do we need dopamine doses from lamenting legislative inanities?  Are we trying to fit in by following the herd, piling-on the momentarily weak and defenseless?   Why the wedge? 

While not a good-government “Goo-Goo” optimist like my favorite high school teacher, I do believe that people—as people—strive to join, to heal, to uplift, to share, to be good, to do good, to see good (in all!), to take care, and to uphold, eagerly, the Golden Rule.  All without the implicit or wet-ink weight of Congressional blessing. 

Mankind has survived via a special kind of collectivism—especially in a free, open and self-governed society.  We have survived by not mutually-destructing.  So why do we seem hell-bent on it, now, at least rhetorically?  Why, again, the wedge? 

Why is a philosophical difference now the basis to declare one’s neighbor a mortal enemy?  Literally. 

I think we have forgotten to empathize with our neighbors.  That pure, basic, human emotion of kindness and understanding. 

We should not hate our neighbor because of a yard sign or a bumper sticker.  As Tom Lehrer ironically opined decades ago: “I know there are people who do not love their fellow man, and I hate people like that!”  We don’t all have to agree…but in today’s age we sure shouldn’t hate.  In fact, our great country of freedom was built upon the concept of dissidence.  Civil dissidence, of discourse, anyway. 

My suggestion for a quick recalibration via other-shoe perspective?  Take those steps through a hospital.  That’s it. 

You don’t need to be intrusive.  Just mildly observant.  You will see your brothers and sisters in all stages of humanity—relief, worry, unease, curiosity, frustration-borne-of-bureaucracy…and soul-challenging faith.  And while they may deal with it differently from you and from me, we all will share a host of human emotions throughout our lifetimes. 

Let’s try to be understanding.  Let’s empathize.  Let’s be civil. 


…that’s 30 for today. What are your thoughts? Submit a comment or article.

Issues of Racism Survey Results Part 2

While the numbers reported in Part 1 of the survey results provided some understanding of the Issues of Racism, today, we examine some of the voluntary statements from our respondents.

On the question “Which statement best fits your current thinking on racism?” many offered additional comments, which give depth to better understanding how many of us are thinking and an opportunity to reflect on what others think. Here are a few unedited comments.

“It appears Covid -19 has caused white Americans to stay in place long enough to see what has been happening for decades. The history of America needs to be accurately taught and portrayed in the news/media.”

“Racism isn’t new. It’s just being filmed.”

“As a woman of color, I am well aware of racial issues. However, I have begun reading White Fragility and am now learning about how white people are socialized. This new information has opened my eyes to a different perspective.”

“Through a book I’m reading, I’m learning about the subtle ways in which most white people actually enjoy white privilege more than they even realize.”

“My parents were both Holocaust Survivors and did slave labor for the Nazis. I have always believed in giving back, am Jewish, and a ten year Rotarian. A lot of anti-Semitism is jumping on the back of anti-racism, and it is so wrong too.”

“Until governments (National, State, local) make a change, until we remove the hate citizen upon citizens, we cannot let this rest.”

“While aware of all of the issues facing us and supportive of the changes, I’ve become more consciously aware and even more vigilant of my own thoughts, feelings, and actions to support ending racial disparities and injustices.”

“My opinion has not changed since George Floyd was murdered. I think racism is as bad as I’ve always thought it to be, which is extreme, horrible, and systemic in our country.”

The next question was “Thinking of the last few months, what have you learned about your attitude regarding other races?” This question elicited some thought-provoking comments.

“I have not been aware enough of how badly some races have been treated. I find myself wanting to be more friendly to people who are different than me in appearance.”

“I need to think through the impact of things more closely.”

“That I’m not a racist and don’t like being pegged as one simply because I’m white.”

“I have learned that people around me say racist things, and I have ignored them in the past. I now find myself better equipped to speak up for POC as I learn and listen more.”

“I have learned that I cannot dismiss other people’s feelings. There are racists (not just about skin color, but gender identity, religion, you name it) out there — a lot of them — trying to figure out the best way to get them to listen and become more tolerant. It is a long road, but if we don’t try to do it now more than ever, it will revert back to what we are working to erase. We need this all to be remembered, taught in school, talked about with friends, family, the media. If we don’t it has a good chance of disappearing, and those that are marginalized in our community will continue to feel the hate and fear every day of their lives.”

“I have taken The Episcopal Church’s anti-racism training, Seeing the Face of God in Each Other, more than once. I’ve said I’m going to keep taking it until I get it. I can now say I’ve experienced white privilege and have my whole life. If anything has changed is my support for reparations has gotten stronger and my total support for a Truth and Reconciliation process in the USA so we can overcome the long shadows of slavery and the genocide of Native Americans.”


Summary

These comments most certainly demonstrate some of the feelings and self-awareness of this most critical issue. Helping each other learn, understand, and heal is something we all can do.

As a final part of this effort, we will post comments readers submit in an effort top continue the dialog. What can you add?

…that’s 30 for today.

Issues on Race, Survey Results Part 1

Thank you to all who provided input for this survey. Full disclosure; professional pollsters may argue the statistical accuracy of this survey. However, I believe we gathered some insightful comments of 81 people across the US, Australia, New Zeland.

As you will recall, the purpose of the study is to inform, share, and build community. With that in mind, let’s review the highlights.

56% of all respondents said that their personal opinion or awareness of racial issues have changed in recent months.

When asked which statement best fits your current thinking, 29% said This might be the time we make critical changes. Followed closely by 22% who said they were open to learning about the impact on others by racism, and 18% said they are learning about the implications for people of a race other than their own.

Many of those completing the survey offered suggestions for educational material about the cultures of other races. Some of the suggestions are:

Books
White Cargo by Don Jordon and Michael Walsh

White Fragility


Me and White Supremacy


Waking Up White

On-Line Resources
21-Day Racial Equity Challenge


Humanitarian Disaster Institute


Black Business.Com

Video
PBS Civil War Reconstruction Era a 4 Part Series


The Film “13”


Jim Crow of the North PBS


We wanted to know if the following sectors were doing a good job.


Statement: Our nation’s elected leaders are doing a good job addressing racism. 6% of all people said they agreed, while 84% disagreed or strongly disagreed.


Statement: Our religious leaders are doing a good job addressing racism. 21% agreed and, 55% disagreed or strongly disagreed.


Statement: Our corporate leaders are doing a good job addressing racism. 15% agreed or strongly agreed and, 51% disagreed or strongly disagreed. Interestingly 33% were unsure.


Statement: Our judicial system is doing a good job addressing racism 69% disagreed or strongly disagreed and, 23% were unsure.


Many of those completing the survey offered some comments and suggestions. In Part 2 We will review some of their thoughts and insights. Stay Tuned.

…that’s 30 for today

Thoughts on the pandemic.

Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

Sure I knew that there is a National Institute of Health, but not very much about their mission. Neither did I pay much attention to the my County Health Department except when I took a food handlers course. That class made me somewhat of a germaphobe as I became aware of the dangers associated with food preparation.

Now, as a septuagenarian living in the age of Covid-19, it is easy for me to appreciate the cautions voiced by the likes of Dr. Fauci. What I don’t condone are those using the spread of the virus for political gain. I believe some politicians are taking advantage of the fears or assumptions some have in this country. They are looking for a short term advantage by promoting what they think their base wants to hear without regard for the facts. While the majority of Americans are looking for leadership.

Seven in 10 Americans also say they trust their governor over the president when it comes to reopening businesses.

NBC News Poll

The pandemic, racial tension, and a spike in violence are taking a toll on our patience. This a volatile time when some common sense and a measure of kindness might help build healthy relationships.

Let’s listen to the experts, wear our masks, and hope for an answer on how to manage this virus.

that’s 30 for now. What are your thoughts?

Civility in Discourse, a Reflection on Liberty

Today is July 4th and I’m please to welcome a guest commentary. Adam Ehlert reflects on our Freedom and the American Spirit.

We are living in strange and tenuous times.  Our country has been through tough periods before…time and time again, even all the way back to its groundbreaking founding, and then the early war that nearly tore it apart.  Those two events were nearly unprecedented in world history—a new, independent nation, founded on the principle of equal justice under the law, and all had the opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Unprecedented!  And resilient still.  Even today…barely. 

Not a perfect union—then, or today—but one that is freer, more economically viable, and healthier than any other (and they’re all related, by the way).  Our patriots remained unified for our country’s freedom and prosperity through the fracturing events of its history.  The questionably-purposed Vietnam era, the necessary-but-difficult Civil Rights struggle of the sixties, the spirit-crushing Great Depression and the Dust Bowl that hit us right in the breadbasket.  All the way back to the aforementioned war between the states, an awful, bloody, gut-wrencher that pitted brother against brother. But once that war ended, the healing began.  Not overnight, but eventually the Union was restored and families could embrace across state lines.  

And through our sometimes-calamitous history, civil discourse remained.  And respect for our brother and sister citizens.  And respect for the process, for each and every voice, for the firm belief that our Constitution created an amazing framework to allow for our republic’s evolution. 

But I am concerned for today.  There is no respect for the process.  There is no respect for difference of opinion.  There is no room, in any room, for thoughtful, reasoned, respectful discourse—especially in that city of southern efficiency and northern charm, where it is all supposed to be centered. 

Yours truly is gun-shy in even adjectively describing some of the events above.  Let alone sharing an opinion on anything screeched from the television or splashed across tissue-thin front pages.  

But I will today, because I believe in this country’s resiliency.  I believe in the Constitution, that allows—with significant and thoughtful deliberation, our system to adapt to the times.  I believe in her people.  This is still The Land of the Free…barely. 

I believe in Life.  I believe it, and its pursuit of liberty and happiness begins when a heart beats. 

I believe in Freedom, nearly as far as the word will carry it.  Freedom as imbued specifically in our Bill of Rights—for everyone—and freedom of function.  Social issue freedoms—knock yourself out.  Actually, let me temper that Libertarian streak a bit—I think society as a whole cannot be trusted (to say nothing of trusting the government), and for medical and social health concerns, I am not comfortable with unrestricted pharmacological freedom.  I side with the science here, especially as normalization will more-pronouncedly affect young people, actually physically retarding brain maturation. 

I believe in commitment to our country and its rule of law.  That protects its citizens.  First and foremost—government is here to do what its citizens cannot do for themselves.  And hopefully very little beyond that.  Social Security—great; safety net services—even better, and doubly-effective when driven locally; Congress, the Executive Branch, and the Judiciary—pretty good checks and balances; interstate infrastructure, travel, commerce, and communications—a great nation!     

I believe in Freedom of potential.  Education, health, the potential of a vibrant livelihood…the pursuit of happiness!  Regardless of race, creed, color or circumstance.  Equal potential for all. 

But life is not fair—there’s no two ways about that.  No matter how gargantuan the monolith becomes, it will not parcel out opportunity and potential in 335 million properly-measured units.    But never in history has the playing field been so level, for so many.  Not a guarantee of “easy,” but a near-open ticket for Americans to chart a course of desire. 

But I am afraid, in most social (and business) scenarios to discuss these cornerstone American ideals. 

Media-fueled modern-day McCarthyism can brand anyone an ageist, a classist, a conformist, an institutionalist, (or perhaps more evilly, a red-blooded nativist—who ever heard that loaded term before 2016?), a sexist, or a racist.  I wish I could pick up a newspaper, and read news, as reported.  The every-story-as-a-societal-wedge has got to stop.  It is tearing us apart. 

I wish I could fly a flag.  I wish I could visit an historical monument without worrying about its implications, I wish I could visit my father-in-law’s memorial at Ft. Leavenworth without risk of being branded as a short-sighted patriot.  I wish we could continue to use Mount Rushmore as an educational monument (literally!) to learn our history.  This should serve to amplify the voices of the tribes who were so wronged so long ago.  Burning down a granite mountain will do nothing to educate our next generations of citizens and leaders from that history. 

I wish protests were plentiful…and peaceful.  I wish reportage was only that.  I wish I was still free to make my own decisions and opinions…and even occasionally have the forum to voice those opinions. 

The mistakes of our past will rise just as fast as the rule of law falls.  The civil rights of every single American are jeopardized as we undercut our foundational freedoms.

But I have faith.  Our indomitable American spirit will overcome; our country will emerge stronger than it was in the untested theory of 244 years ago.  With malice toward none and charity for all.  God Bless America.

Adam Ehlert,

Overland Park, KS

7/3/20

What are your thoughts on the day when we celebrate our great country?