Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “Presidential debates”

Hope from Our Youngins – Roger Ingalls

I’ve been racking my brains trying to come up with something to write about for today’s post. I wanted to do something positive because we’ve just concluded round two of the presidential debates and I was appalled at the inaccuracies by both candidates. President Obama didn’t create false statement but he exaggerated many points while Romney outright lied in traditional Republican grand standing fashion. The Republican leaders knows their followship will believe anything they say so truth doesn’t matter (it’s the conservative authoritarian belief system that creates blind followship).

I was about to give up on a positive subject and write about the stupidity of California Prop 30 but then a Facebook post caught my eye. An old friend posted a question to teenagers on her Facebook page asking which presidential candidate THEY would vote for, without influence from their parents.

Their responses were interesting. They almost apologetically assumed they were supposed to say Romney. All selected President Obama and their comments were telling. They were very logical and actually saw through the Republican Party’s false sound bites. I was amazed!

Here are a few of their comments:

1)      “It’s taken me more than four years just to pay off my little car loan, how is Obama expected to fix a trashed economy in such a short period of time”.

2)      “Obama inherited Bush’s mess, why is the Republican Party blaming him?”

3)      “Romney doesn’t truly believe in equal rights for all and would push back gains made by LGBTQ”.

Again, I was amazed. These young people were thinking critically and were not blindly following like many of their parents. They saw through the false sound bites; their brains were engaged.

This gives me hope…it really gives me hope.

Water or Tea Party

Allow me to assert my credentials as an Englishman: there is no tea without water.  It has always been thus, since the Earl of Grey accidentally dropped the rind of his bergamot orange into a cup of hot water he was sipping (I’ve no idea…don’t bother the Wiki Goddess).

Though it is the silly season of Republican debates and strange voting habits of the primaries (Ohio – yes I’m talking about you), there emerges a call for sanity, not to balance the Tea Party and Occupy Movement, but to create a framework that might actually work.

And so, with much aplomb, I wish to introduce The Water Party (here on Facebook if this is your preferred medium). Percentages seem to be the defining element these days, so the Water Party claim to represent the 70%, slightly less ambitious than Occupy (99%) or Tea Party (103%). This is not based upon some empirical equation, rather inspired by Mother Nature herself.

“70% of the earth is covered by water, but you don’t think of it, because the land is right in front of you most of the time. Likewise, 70% of Americans favor accuracy, fairness, civility and helping others, but it doesn’t seem that way with angry opinionated people dominating the news and airwaves spouting falsehoods to further their agendas and vendettas. The Water Party represents the 70% of Americans from all political spectrums who are the true majority in America. It’s time for us to stand up and be counted.”

What I like about The Water Party is that they welcome people of any political persuasion, from any party, as long as there is a commitment to “support truth and accuracy, reasonableness, kindness and sanity.”

Friends – this is a political landscape game changer right here. Close your eyes and try to imagine a Republican Presidential debate based on these principles. Admit it, you would be forced to channel surf to try and find those insipid, hate ads that the candidates are absolutely not putting out there against each other.

Back to The Water Party and I want to focus on their three principles. The first suggests that we all commit to being truthful in our political debates – I can go for that.  The third suggests that we emulate the founding fathers – I am really not sure about this but maybe I’ve been reading the wrong books and articles about them.

But the second principle really got my attention because it has very concrete actions that can impact the world.

“Justice: Nobody should have to “try to live” on less than $1 a day, as one billion people are. 8 million children a year (one every 4 seconds) should not die from lack of food and clean water. I will take less so children can have the basics to live. One option is the water pledge to drink more water, and less alchohol, coffee and soda, and give some or all the money to the poorest. If 100,000 people drink $5 less a month, that will create $6.7 million a year that will save tens of thousands of lives. We’ll also live longer, and save time and money not having to work out and diet as much.”

If you click on the water pledge you get to a page where you can actually translate the pledge into an individualized and measurable commitment.

Joking aside, I love the concept that the Water Party represents, that we could actually sit people from all political directions for a nice cup of te–water, and work on a way together to fix what ails this country. It would require a commitment to rational debate, to listening to the other side and being willing to compromise.

Perhaps we might even be surprised and discover that behind all the slogans we shout at each other, there just might be more consensus than we care to admit. Maybe the 70% can make a difference.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

A Good Leader is A Good Reader

The problem with writing blog posts in advance is that they run the danger of being out-of-date before tehy are published. I wrote this post two weeks ago and since then, Herman Cain has resigned. I decided to keep the post because, amidst the sex scandals, something very important surfaced and needs to be processed.I have left the post intact because when I began to edit it to being in retrospect, it lost the anger that I felt. I hope this doesn’t prevent the point being made.

I’m somewhat surprised by the Republican debates. Blame it on the TV coverage, or the fact that they are facing a standing President who, despite struggling to see his agenda through to practical fruition, is still extremely impressive, but how are the Republicans allowing certain candidates to still be in the running?

When do people start losing in this game of Musical Chairs?

More specifically, how are they allowing Herman Cain to stay in the running? If it is really about the money, who is willing to stand up and admit to investing millions in this man, or at least to continue to invest their money in him.

The sexual allegations are of course the most shocking. If this man is being totally set up and framed, let’s expose those behind it and send them to jail where they belong. If the answer is anything but this, why on earth is Herman Cain still running?

I have no doubt that Mr. Cain is a keen and astute businessman. We need such people helping to set our economy right. But the seat of the Presidency requires a lot more.

Mr. Cain’s lack of grasp on foreign policy is stunning. Libya? Really?

But it is with somewhat mixed emotions that I discovered that Mr. Cain and I have something in common. We both love The Simpsons. I also quote from the show, Mr. Cain, but I’m not sure I would if I was a presidential candidate.

I love that scene from 2007’s “The Simpsons Movie” when Arnold Schwarzenegger who is the movie’s President of the United States has to make a critical decision. His aids offer him several options and he immediately picks one without reading the briefs. The character of Schwarzenegger when asked why he doesn’t read the options replies: “I was elected to lead, not to read.”

He does encourage people to read his own book.

In a recent post, The Power of Paolini, I shared my gratitude to J.K. Rowling and Christopher Paolini, for turning my son and his generation onto reading through their respective Harry Potter and Eragon series. I want a President who can inspire the nation, a President who can make educated decisions, and a President who considers  all the options.

Never go anywhere without your nuclear launch codes and a good book.

Perhaps if we lived in a country that read, if we were a nation who stayed informed, we would not have allowed ourselves to dig such a deep hole that we now have to climb out of.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

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