Tag: politicians

Nike and Kaepernick are Unimportant. Focus on Real Issues.

By Jack Parkos | @refoundinfather

Recently, Nike’s new ad campaign “Just do it” was celebrating its 30-year anniversary. Nike chose former quarterback Colin Kaepernick as their spokesperson. This caused major controversy, upsetting conservatives who opposed his prior kneeling for the national anthem. This was a hot topic last year, and the campaign only brought it back.

The debate sparked as two sides asked very different questions. By taking a knee, was Kaepernick showing free speech? Was it an appropriate cause to protest? Or, was it disrespectful to veterans and active military? These questions were not only cultural questions but political as well. Many politicians got involved, and even the president was in on it. Trump, as usual, decided to take to Twitter to voice his thoughts.

The irony of this is that back in 2013, Trump tweeted about Obama paying too much attention to the NFL.

Trump’s second tweet, though hypocritical, has truth to it. Politicians need to stop focusing on nonsense. What football players do on the field is up to the NFL, not D.C. Of course, we can all (politicians included) can have an opinion on it, but this shouldn’t be an issue brought to the government. This should not decide who you elect.

More Important Things are Happening

While all of this occurred, Russia accused America of using white phosphorus bombs against civilian targets in Syria. This is banned by the Geneva Convention. Both sides of the Syrian Civil War have faced accusations of this, but the mainstream media rarely mentions it. Instead, they debate about what to do during the national anthem. Essentially, the media prioritized a song during a game over chemical warfare.

It is time for Fox and CNN to stop acting like ESPN and start focusing on the tragic losses of life that occur daily due to dangerous American foreign policy.  The level of attention given to minor issues is blasphemous! Israel has nukes and Syria is more war-torn than ever, but the focus still goes to football players.

Meaningless Debate

While it may seem crazy that this is happening, politicians love it. Think of all of the minor issues people debate over. Liberals and conservatives will go at it for hours debating about Trump and Stormy Daniels but never will mention that the Federal Reserve is inflating our currency and wrecking the economy. Congress passes bill after bill without reading them, but the people are debating about female superheroes.

Politicians love this because it is a great example of the divide and conquer tactic. They can easily pit the liberals and conservatives against each other on minor issues. They will hate each other so much, they won’t pay attention when Democrats and Republicans work together to increase the budget and further the debt. Note that none of these trivial issues affect the state in a significant way, regardless of the outcome. But as long as the state can keep the people occupied, they will not rise up against the government’s real injustices.

This is a threat to our freedom. The government is slowly slipping away our liberties not because they win the fight, but because nobody cares.  Every day the debt goes up, but we keep talking about the national anthem protest. The people don’t realize how reckless American foreign policy is. Would they even notice the early signs of another war? More sickeningly, would they care? It’s a question we must ask, and it can be very hard to believe either to be true.

While issues like the national anthem protest deserve some media time, there are bigger, more important issues that should have the focus. What happens if the players do or do not kneel? Likely nothing. What happens if we continue to go into debt and constantly wage war overseas? We do not know for sure, but it will be worse than anything that could happen during the anthem.

Get awesome merchandise and help 71 Republic end the media oligarchy by donating to our Patreon, which you can find here. Thank you very much for your support!

Featured Image Source

Advertisements

Does Political Integrity Exist in American Politics?

By Joshua D. Glawson | United States

Throughout the political world, a lack of integrity is often fostered for particular party agendas and cronyism more than for the actual, or even perceived, betterment of their respective constituents. These ethical inconsistencies tend to serve companies via cronyism and coercive monopolies, fill the pockets of politicians, get politicians reelected, and help to raise more funding for the political parties-but they can also harm other people. Rather than staying true to a principled ideology such as a Non-Aggression Principle, many politicians do what is seen as best for themselves and those they work closely with rather than the people the politician is meant to be “working for.”

Just What Is Political Integrity?

‘Integrity’ is touted as a value everyone should have, especially a good politician, if they even exist. For some reason, the word ‘integrity’ has shifted in meaning to something more of a strong moral uprightness that never sways from its subjective stance. We typically say that someone has integrity when they tell the truth about something even when it could hurt them, or when someone treats everyone with respect and dignity. Is this correct?

The word ‘integrity’ originates from the Latin word ‘integritatem’ meaning “soundness, wholeness, completeness,” and figuratively it means “purity, correctness, and/or blamelessness.” However, there is more to the word than simply being whole, or pure, in only a circumstance or two, it suggests that the person is consistently integral. In this sense, when someone is consistent, they are said to be standing firm after taking a position, while not ceasing or bending. The word ‘integrity’ has the same core meaning as ‘integer,’ meaning “intact, whole, and/or complete,” while figuratively it means “untainted, and/or upright.”

A Need for Consistency

Therefore, in order to have integrity, one must be consistent in their actions, not compartmentalized or fractioned, while appealing to a higher, nobler, moral standard or ethic. A person with integrity acts in respect to these principles equally throughout their personal life with everyone. So, can a politician have integrity?

In short, yes, a politician can have integrity, but it is much more difficult than what the mass public would like to impart. For a politician to be integral, they must be consistent in their higher moral or ethical stance and not differentiate or sway on that standing depending on the situation. Unfortunately, many people who claim the title of being politically-minded, whether layman or politician, will vary on their so-called principled stance depending on the situation they find themselves in.

Uncommon in American Politics

For example, an American politician will go to great lengths when speaking out against innocent lives being lost within the US, but when it comes to other deaths in other countries they remain silent. Better yet, many help to pass bills that just further the military complex. The same figurative politician may even explicitly state that they do not believe in war or the military industrial complex, while simultaneously implicitly helping to pass bills that provide more benefits for soldiers and military personnel, which in turn incentivizes perpetual growth of the military and the supposedly disdained war hawk behavior.

Even more commonly, the same politician will speak against theft between citizens, yet also advocate for government laws that coerce businesses and individuals, in general, to give to others as a form of “redistribution,” making it plunder of the highest degree. In each of these, the politician is not being consistent in their self-professed ideology, thusly contradicting and fractioned, making the politician lack integrity.

A Universal Ideal

Of course, the concept of ‘integrity’ applies to all people within each of our lives, not just in politics. The best way to self-assess whether you are being integral is to not only consider the consequences of your actions, but also the process by which you came to the consequence. It is also beneficial to discuss your ideologies and philosophy with others that can challenge or help to strengthen your understanding. Consider these ideas and ask yourself the following:

  • Am I harming or threatening to harm myself or others with my actions?
  • Do I appeal to a moral or ethical standard that does not infringe on the negative rights of others?
  • Am I consistent in how I treat people in a moral or ethical manner?
  • Do I act completely different around various people in order for them to like me, approve of me, or to not witness my alternate characteristics?

To support 71 Republic, please donate to our Patreon, which you can find here.

Featured Image Source

Non-Intervention is the Only Foreign Policy That Puts America First

By Jack Parkos | United States

When a man says “family first” he will reschedule meetings to make time for his family. When a Christian says “God First” they make room for church on Sunday. What does a politician do when he or she says “America First”? Well not exactly that. Whether enacted by a Democrat or Republican, whether through foreign aid, warfare or global institutions, our foreign policy hasn’t been putting America first. Yet the people in charge claim it does.

Our policy has favored global institutions controlling power, decades of constant warfare, and maintaining an empire overseas. This approach costs countless lives and millions of dollars in resources. This is all based on the rhetoric that America has some sort of responsibility  to “Spread democracy” around the world (which is ironic considering we aren’t even a democracy). Partner this with the military industrial complex and some elitism and you have a policy that has put other nations ahead of America.

Ironically it seems the people who scream the loudest about putting America first do so the least. Both parties are guilty. The rise of Neo-Conservatism has plagued both parties. Even President Obama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, dropped over 26,000 bombs a year in the Middle East. They always spread the lie that intervention is for security reasons and puts America first and keeps us safe. I don’t understand how rigging elections and installing puppet regimes keeps me safe. It only creates enemies.

Russia has been accused of hacking our elections and although we don’t even know if it changed the outcome or really even what happened, people are furious. So imagine how mad people get when the CIA does this to their elections. We have made a new enemy. And this enemy is now against America. Making enemies doesn’t put America first. Our government making enemies for us is cruel. If we minded our own business, we’d be a lot better off. Does this mean all nations will love America? No, but we would have less groups that hate us.

Civil Wars happen, America even had one. This doesn’t mean we need to intervene. In the American Civil War, the CSA hoped the British and French would send troops to help it defeat the Union. They did not. Why? Because they knew it may start a war between the US and Britain. Britain put their country and there people first. This seems very reasonable. Why does America not apply this policy? If we see a Civil War erupt many miles away across the ocean, we don’t have to intervene. This doesn’t help us.

Whoever is in charge of some country in the Middle East doesn’t harm your average American. But intervening will. War has great costs. Since 2001 America has spent 5.6 trillion dollars on wars in the Middle East. And you know who gets sent the bill? American citizens. Even worse than the great financial loss is the loss of life. America first means putting American citizens first. This should include our military. Sadly, our government hasn’t felt that way.

Imagine a mother getting the call her son was killed halfway across the world, she even was forced to pay for this war. Once the war is done, nothing changes. We are no safer. We were likely never in danger. It is simply immoral and wrong to ask people to send their sons to a place they don’t know, to fight for old men in suits, and then demand the bill be paid. Our military should be a defensive one used to protect the people and put the country first, not for intervention. This will put the American people first and truly keep us safer.

You may think we have a moral responsibility to intervene, because perhaps the regime is a tyrannical one. There are several issues with this idea. The first is that the people calling to intervene are calling for others to do it. Politicians in D.C. won’t be doing any of the fighting themselves. Further, when we elect representatives there job is to represent the American people. They don’t represent Israel, Palestine, Syria, or any other country. It simply isn’t their job to represent the rest of the world. Intervention is also bound to put us in a bind when it comes to our relationship with allies. When our allies commit an atrocity do we need to intervene?

The war hawk will say our allies would never, and that even if they did we would help. This is not true. We all remember Trump launching missiles into Syria after news of a gas attack. Meanwhile in the Israel-Palestine conflict, where both sides have committed war crimes, we side with Israel and ignore there harm perpetrated by Israel. This is simply outrageous and proves that Neo-conservatives have no principles. They will gladly intervene off of claims in Syria, but turn the other cheek when Israel commits atrocities. Do they really want to bring world peace or do they just want to benefit certain groups? It appears to be the latter, and the American people is not one of the groups benefited by this.

So what foreign policy will truly put America first? A policy that protects Americans and doesn’t harm the economy. Non-intervention is the only policy that does this. This would include restricting our military to a defensive role, allowing for free trade, and not meddling in the affairs of other countries. This would reduce both spending and casualties. We also should set the example to the world of what a free and prosperous country is like.  But to do so, we first must become a free and prosperous country again. A major way we can do this is adopt the non-intervention foreign policy. If we want to put America ahead of everything else, perhaps we should put peaceful talks ahead of bombs. Intervention has not worked. It is time to try non intervention-the policy that promotes peace and prosperity.


To support 71 Republic, please donate to our Patreon, which you can find here.

Featured Image Source

Weld Didn’t Endorse Hillary, Did He?

By John Keller | United States

Since the presidential election of 2016, many have speculated that the Libertarian vice presidential candidate Bill Weld endorsed Hillary Clinton before the election. Is this true?

In an interview with MSNBC on 30 September 2016, Bill Weld is credited with endorsing Hillary Clinton for President of the United States. He made the following statement:

“I’m not sure anybody is more qualified than Hillary Clinton to be President of the United States.” – Bill Weld

The question must be raised: Was Bill Weld wrong? Let’s take a look at the numbers. Seventeen presidents were former governors, what Gary Johnson’s job was. On the other hand, thirty-four presidents were former lawyers or secretaries, what Hillary Clinton’s career was. Even looking at the vice presidential picks, the Clinton Campaign was more “qualified”, whereas twenty-four vice presidents had been senators, as Tim Kaine was, and only sixteen vice presidents were governors, like Bill Weld.

But it is the second statement that Bill Weld makes that is forgotten by the media. He continued:

“I mean that’s not the end of the inquiry though. I mean, we were two-time governors and I think Gary is very, very solid. You know, at this point, we overlapped as governors and I thought highly of him back when we served together, but having spent the last several months with the guy, I mean I don’t even just like the guy I love the guy, I think he is very solid and deep. I think his insight that it pays to have some restraint about military incursions for the purpose of regime change before we still American blood on foreign soil and put boots in the ground in countries where we just don’t like what the government in that country is doing. I think that’s a valuable insight. I’m not sure it’s characterized the foreign policy of either Bush, the most recent Bush, or the Obama Administration and I think that might be a refreshing change. I think he and I could bring a much more tranquil approach to Government in Washington because we wouldn’t be screaming at one of the two parties about how stupid they are. We would work with them both.” – Bill Weld

Furthermore, the rest of the interview seems to be his expression in favor of Gary Johnson and himself for the national ticket. The next question that must be raised: was it wrong of Weld to speak in favor of Mrs. Clinton over Mr. Trump? He spoke plainly on MSNBC on the 30th of September of 2016:

“I do not view those two candidates the same way. I think very highly of Mrs. Clinton, I think she is very well qualified, I think she did a great job in the debate the other night. She kept her game face on… I thought Mr. Trump by the end of the debate was out of control…” – Bill Weld

Bill Weld was looking at it from a realist perspective in an unreal election cycle. Businessman against a career policy maker in the debates when unspoken traditions of policy discussion were broke. Mr. Trump threatening to jail his opponent was, to the common politician, very unprofessional. Threatening to lock up opponents in an election is commonplace in shame democracies that are in essence dictatorships, and it is not commonplace in a constitutional republic.

The total length of the interview with MSNBC on September 30, 2016, was seven minutes and forty seconds (7:40). Throughout the interview he made a few statements in favor of Mrs. Clinton, totaling thirty-four seconds (0:34). Thirty of those seconds was made responding to a question about the debates in which he was expressing that he thought Hillary Clinton performed better than Trump. No harm in expressing who you think won a debate the libertarians were even in, right? But the four seconds that killed him was the statement mentioned formerly in this article in which Bill Weld said, “I’m not sure anybody is more qualified than Hillary Clinton to be President of the United States.” However, the statement he followed that up his remark about Hillary Clinton was a one minute and four second (1:04) praise of Gary Johnson on how experience was the end of the inquiring and that Gary Johnson would be a better president than Hillary Clinton, although he may not necessarily be more “qualified”. Throughout the whole interview, thirty four seconds (0:34), or 7%, of the interview was expressing approval of Mrs. Clinton over Mr. Trump, and seven minutes and six seconds (7:06), or 93%, of the interview expressing that Gary Johnson and himself were the right choices for America.

The other moment in which many thought Bill Weld endorsed Hillary Clinton was on 1 November 2016 in an interview with Rachel Maddow on MSNBC. Many think that Bill Weld gave up on the campaign, but after failing to get into the debates it was clear the campaign strategy had to be re-examined. That is why Bill Weld made the realistic statement:

“I think in the real world that’s [aiming for 5% of the vote] probably correct… we thought for the longest time we might have a chance to run the table because we’re such nice guys and centrist party and etc etc, but not getting into the debates really sort of foreclosed that option. So now it is the 5%, your right.” – Bill Weld

Bill Weld was looking realistically at the coming election. The Republicans and Democrats had just spent millions of dollars to keep Gary Johnson out of the presidential debates and himself out of the vice presidential debate, keeping them at 12% national and then pushing them back down towards 2%. In order to have a successful ticket in the future, the Libertarian ticket knew they had to reach 5% to get matched federal funds, guaranteed ballot access, and more of being recognized as a major party. Although the goal changed, the message did not. In the same interview he gave the following statement:

“Well, we are making our case that we are fiscally responsible and socially inclusive and welcoming and we think we got, on the merits, the best ticket of the three parties if you will and so we would like to get there. Having said that, as I think you’re aware, I see a big difference in the R candidate and the D candidate, and I’ve can in some pains to say that I fear for the country should Mr. Trump be elected. I think it’s a candidacy without any parallel that I can recall. It’s content-free and very much given up to stirring up envy and resentment and even hatred and I think it would be a threat to the conduct of our foreign policy and our position in the world at large.”

It is clear the message had not changed, but the goal of the campaign had. He wanted to see a Libertarian presidency but the current, realistic climate made it impossible, and so he expressed when asked about referring to Trump as “unstable” during the interview:

“Oh yeah, yeah I mean that psychologically.” – Bill Weld

In the research done in this article, I am of the opinion that Bill Weld did not endorse Hillary Clinton and that a study of what was actually said proves he supported the Libertarian message to the end of the campaign. Although the goal of the campaign may have changed in the end weeks, and he may have preferred one candidate over the other in terms of the duopoly, he stood by the libertarian message through the end of the campaign and even continues to fight for libertarian principles today.


To support 71 Republic, please donate to our Patreon, which you can find here.

Featured Image Source.

 

 

Facing Poverty Directly, For a Change

By Craig Axford | United States

The UN’s special rapporteur on poverty, Philip Alston, has just issued a blistering report on poverty in the United States. He’s hardly the first to draw attention to this ongoing crisis. Given the lack of political will to do anything about it, he certainly won’t be the last.

Philip Alston’s findings follow a visit he made to the US in December of last year to assess what can only be described as a slow-motion social train wreck that threatens America’s long-term political stability. Included among his findings are some staggering statistics. For example, “the share of households that, while having earnings, also receive nutrition assistance rose from 19.6 percent in 1989 to 31.8 percent in 2015.”

The UN report is relatively short but attempts to use its 20 pages to describe some of the people and places behind the statistics it relies upon. Such efforts to humanize the data have become sadly uncommon within government publications in recent decades.

While we hear a lot about multimillion dollar bonuses and what percentage of wealth the top 1% control, personal stories about the poor and images of their unnecessary suffering are rare. Inequality is often substituted for the word poverty these days, with most of the attention drawn to data that shows how much the wealthy have as opposed to how little the poor are forced to make do with. As a result, it often sounds as though envy rather than justice is the motivation behind calls for change.

But extreme inequality is about far more than just you having more than me or vice versa. “If the only advantage of affluence were the ability to buy yachts, sports cars, and fancy vacations,” the Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel writes in the opening pages of What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets, “inequalities of income and wealth would not matter very much. But,” Sandel continues, “as money comes to buy more and more — political influence, good medical care, a home in a safe neighborhood rather than a crime-ridden one, access to elite schools rather than failing ones — the distribution of income and wealth looms larger and larger.”

While more and more Americans go to work every day and require public help like Medicaid or nutrition assistance, those with the means to provide for themselves now increasing claim taxes are confiscation. The notion that taxes are a species of theft rather than the price to be paid for a politically stable society that fairly distributes opportunity to the greatest extent practicable is now orthodoxy among conservatives.

Progressives have inadvertently lent credence to the confiscatory view of taxation by focusing so much attention on the top 1% and what their tax rate should be, instead of speaking directly about the struggles so many Americans are experiencing. Indeed, US politicians from across the political spectrum speak relatively rarely about poverty directly, a fact which did not go unnoticed in Philip Alston’s UN report. “One politician remarked to the Special Rapporteur [Alston] on how few campaign appearances most politicians bother to make in overwhelmingly poor districts, which reflects the broader absence of party representation for low-income and working-class voters.”

Obviously, there’s going to be a very strong connection between a society’s priorities and its tax code. But by focusing so much on the gap between the rich and the poor and largely ignoring the actual conditions the poor endure, poverty is distorted into an abstraction. It’s almost as though many politicians think families care more about Bill Gates net worth than they do about putting food on the table and being able to go to the doctor without having to think about bankruptcy.

These days Democrats, in particular, tend to talk as though it’s self-evident that income inequality is the source of most of our greatest social ills, and that a simple adjustment to the minimum wage or increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit will do the trick. But it isn’t obvious to those living in gated communities, nor is solving the systemic problems that give rise to poverty that simple.

The wealthy no longer see poverty directly. Indeed, they’ve intentionally shielded themselves from it. When they do read or hear about the poor the message is often delivered through an ideological filter that casts them as lazy, drug-addled, and criminal. Until the elite are again connected to their communities, any steps taken to close the gap between them and the working class will be grudging and temporary.

The anthropologist Jared Diamond has pointed out that one of the most consistent characteristics found within societies that have experienced collapse has been the segregation of the wealthy from the communities that surround them. He laments the fact that history is by all appearances repeating itself. Writing for ABCScience in 2003, Diamond states that “In much of the rest of the world, rich people live in gated communities and drink bottled water. That’s increasingly the case in Los Angeles where I come from.” Diamond concludes that as a result “wealthy people in much of the world are insulated from the consequences of their actions.”

We’re not going to get the rich or the decision-makers over whom they have so much sway to see the light by reminding them endlessly that they make many times more than the poor. They know that already, and from their current perspective, it looks to them as though they’ve earned every penny.

Those with power and means need to be reminded regularly and directly what the day-to-day lives of people living in poverty are like. We must not be shy about asking those sheltered behind gilded gates what choices they would make on a minimum wage budget. We must insist at every opportunity that they put themselves in the shoes of the people they spend a lot of resources hiding from.

It was precisely this kind of invitation that led Senator Robert Kennedy to leave the safe confines of a Senate hearing room for his 1967 poverty tour. According to University of Mississippi journalism professor Ellen Meacham, “Senator Bobby Kennedy was on the Senate Subcommittee on Employment, Labor, and Poverty, tasked with assessing President Johnson’s policies.” During those hearings “Marian Wright, a 27-year old NAACP lawyer and the first African American woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar testified before the committee on behalf of Head Start — a program that had nearly lost its funding. During the hearing, she went off topic and discussed the overwhelming poverty plaguing the South — and invited the senators to it see for themselves.” RFK took her up on that invitation and the rest is history.

We no longer insist our elected officials, let alone the wealthy, visit the homeless to hear their stories. We don’t demand that those charged with making policy visit poor inner city clinics or struggling rural schools. Even philanthropists usually decide where to send their money by reading grant proposals instead of visiting the people their money is supposedly meant to help. We talk like policy wonks and argue as though if only the top 1% took a pay cut poverty would vanish. Most of us may not live in gated communities, but our rhetoric about poverty has become guarded and sterile.

Across both the political and the class divide poverty is now a faceless phenomenon addressed through platitudes, if it is discussed at all. We debate raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, offering additional tax credits, and perhaps closing a few small loopholes without ever looking anyone in the eyes. We either demonize the wealthy or stereotype the poor because its easier for a culture to cope when responsibility can be shared by villains twirling their mustaches and lazy victims who refuse to get a job.

In any case, both the left and right have assuaged their guilty consciences by turning away. That they’ve turned in different directions is of little moral consequence. No one talks of “compassionate conservatism” anymore. There are no longer any Eleanor Roosevelts or RFKs doing tours of poor communities.

Even good policy decisions won’t endure within a culture that refuses to look poverty in the face. Inequality isn’t an injustice because some have too much. It’s an injustice because so many have too little in a land that has enough for everyone with lots to spare. Those people have names, and they know the elite have forgotten what they are.

Follow Craig on Twitter or read him on Medium.com

Other stories by Craig that you might like: