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Posts Tagged ‘politics’

HAVE YOU HEARD???

Yea…I know I’ve been slacking but just like Dwyane Wade’s ex wife, I’ve been working on ways for the world to better notice me. In other words, HGHI is getting an upgrade!  

They say people don’t read anymore but they certainly do listen, right? Well, to accompany my blogs, I will now be adding a tag-a-long video series called “Note 2 Self.”  

The purpose of N2S will be to expand on some ideas in my blogs and foster more dialogue amongst the HGHI community and beyond.  So basically, it’s just one man’s poor excuse to try and get his hands on some blog awards, eh!  And if that doesn’t work some blog/book groupies, straight Hill Harper style! [Isn’t that how it works, anyway lol?]

I’m not serious, but just in case I am be sure to check out N2S COMING SOON!!!!!

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Is it just me, or does EVERY election season nowadays seem to be a lightning rod for almost any and every person with the least possible discernment?

Before you go guessing, no I’m not referring to Mitt Romney’s late August Political Roast in Tampa headlined by the dark comedy duo of Eastwood n’ chair, or the latest ploy by her pinkness, Ms. Minaj, to stay relevant by endorsing the GOP on wax (Note: the threats on Mariah’s life happened afterwards, it’s hard to keep up with foolishness, you know) or the random former ‘Clueless’ star’s clueless come-to-Romney revelation on twitter abound with sexual innuendos (proving once again, you can take the girl off of VH1, but you can never take the VH1 off of the girl). 

I am talking about the thousands of voters across the nation who still have yet to psychologically pull the lever for a presidential candidate with only T-minus 24 days left till election day.

To the media, they are the highly esteemed and pivotal UNDECIDEDS, but after millions of dollars spent on ads by both camps, thousands of rally/yard signs printed, hundreds of televised interviews, two party conventions and one presidential debate in the rearview, many like HBO funnyman Bill Maher are now calling them by their more scientific name: low information voters

Political scientists define low information voters as the

less sophisticated, poorly informed voters who often vote against their best interests based on rumors, stereotypes, and other less rationale factors.  

In layman’s terms, they are the electoral love child of the many folks who consistently make Repo Games so deliciously addictive, mixed with the invitees from the movie Dinner for Schmucks.

Per Maher, the fate of our very republic is in the hands of Mensa members like: Nadya Suleman aka OctoMom and Kanye’s better, more thoroughly videotaped, half reality starlet Kim Kardashian.

Now, if any of this seems disturbing to you, then good, it should be; but have you noticed that when it comes to dating many of us are no more sophisticated?  Simply put, many of us would be classified as low information daters. 

When choosing whether or not to date someone, many of us routinely stereotype and give credence to some of the most lowbrow things like astrology, swag, induction into a brother/sister fraternity, or whether random people on facebook feel we’ll look cute together (I can hear it now, look at the Alpha/AKA power couple, ugh!).  Also, many more of us are just not as observant as we think, overlooking cues that are practically staring us in the face.

Take for instance, a situation an old college friend of mine had.  She was 29 at the time, a virgin, and had been dating a guy long distance for a few months.  Though dating long distance wasn’t really her thing, she went along with it because she kinda met him through her sister.  Well, as time went on she was glad she had given him a chance, because in her words, he was “doing all the right things” — he was nice, well-mannered, gainfully employed, and came to see her like clockwork despite them being 6 1/2 hours apart.

Only one problem, she was claiming this guy, calling him her boyfriend and had never seen where he lived.  I thought it was essential information, but she felt it would happen in due time.  After some more months of seamless dating, she decided to collect the interest on her near 30-year old chastity belt and turn in her V-card for Delta frequent flyer miles and other relationship cash prizes.  And lo and behold, not too long afterwards, she found out he was married. 

And after a brief estrogen-induced investigation, she discovered that he not only owned a house with his wife, but she had been living there with him the whole time!  I told her, no offense, but did you ever wonder why a guy might be so willing to drive 6 1/2 hours to see you from Atlanta; the black mecca, and former land of Freaknik and blessed home of Magic City?  And, (in my Andre 3000 voice) why would you ever, ever ever, ever ever, elevate a guy to bf status without first seeing where and how he lived? At least make the man work for the lie.

She had no answer and got off the phone irritated.

See my friends, though many of us have already reached or are within reach of our own slice of pie a la Americana–

          1) the debt/degree from such and such college/university

          2) the car with individualized tags to needlessly remind passersby your a ‘BOSS’ or a ‘DIVA’,

          3) the house or condo in a somewhat secure zipcode (or studio if you live in NYC),

          4) and kids named for some weird, smorgasbord blend of you and your child’s father’s name that sounds more like a celebrity couple than a live human being (like Chrihanna or Kimye)

–many of us have the most difficult time accepting the fact that we could come so far in life and still remain so naive when dealing with the opposite sex.  

For the ladies, (in my PSA voice) if your longest relationship to date is easily your worst then you may be a low information dater.  And fellas, if your dating life seems to strangely resemble an episode of the Oxygen channel’s hit show “Snapped” in any way then you know the rest…

We continually date and give to those that don’t serve our interests. We tell ourselves that if we just stick to our lil’ portable checklists of do’s & don’ts, we’ll be fine. But by now, we should know that when the heart is truly up and running it has a tendency to blur lines.  Hope can replace reality and fantasy becomes fate.

So, we can all act shocked and appalled over RiRi signing on for another season of the Chrihanna saga, or Evelyn diving head first (no pun intended) into the shallow end of love; but these stories aren’t just headlines but snippets of our own lives.  There will never be a perfect partner or precise questionnaire to find him/her; but if we all just pull back and breathe, maybe check a few references (just a thought), make sure all the exes are still alive, then hopefully we could avoid such tragedies and maybe become just as good in picking a partner as we are at picking a President. But, till then, let’s just agree to vote for Obama, and figure out the rest later.

Till next time, my damies…

As old folks say, you can follow me on the Twitter @hesgot2haveit

 

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Growing up in the south in the late 80s, amid the ashes of the Civil Rights Movement, I was routinely reminded that my generation, generation X or the post post-civil rights generation,stood on the shoulders” of those great men and women that preceded us. 

We were born well after voting rights and school integration, but one day my generation would be called upon to take the reins and write our own chapter in the history book of our people’s progress.  The notion was never contested nor forgotten.  Only thing, I was never told what to do if those who came before me would rather bequeath a cold shoulder than spare a friendly one as their generational parting gift.

In the 40 years since “Unbought and Unbossed,” I’ve watched the once audacious and divergent Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), which once drafted a Black Declaration of Independence, grow larger in number and influence but shrink further and further from political relevancy and independence within the Democratic Party.  

So much so, that since the enactment of the King Holiday, I’m afraid many of my peers would fail to pinpoint any resonating, forward-looking proposal or cohesive action taken by the now 43-strong “conscience of the Congress” to rally around for the future.  Case in point, their recent walkout of the Capitol with the rest of the Democrat caucus contesting Attorney General Holder’s contempt vote this past June, barely raised an eyebrow in comparison to their Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) scheduled this week.

Although there are no more Adam Clayton Powell’s or Shirley Chisholm’s, the sole address for African-American politicos reads like a short list of “Who’s Who in Black History.”  Some are the former foot soldiers of SNCC, BPP, and the NAACP.  

Conversely, individuals like Georgia stalwart Rep. John Lewis remain irrefutable legends in their own right, while others have simply become relics of a proud but bygone era and political calculus better suited for the last century.

During his 2008 primary fight, then-Sen. Barack Obama alluded to being 14 years Sen. Clinton’s junior as an edge in recapturing the spirit of the younger generations, as well as breaking through the stifling arguments that consumed much of her husband’s presidency.  

Unfortunately, like the former first lady, more than half of the members of the current CBC are of the retiring baby boomer generation or older.

In the past, the story of our progress as a people was always inscribed in the voices and vigor of our youth.  In 1905, it was a 37 year-old Dubois that helped form the Niagara Movement

Dr. King was only 34, when he stepped onto the bright, marble steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963; and Rep. Chisholm and then-Sen. Obama were both candidates for the highest office in the land by the age of 47.

Yet, for the first time in our history, and against the wisdom of the past, we have kept our aging foot soldiers on the front lines effectively turning our politics into a venture of veterans.  Thus, alienating the very vitality and endurance of our youth that has always been at the very core spearheading our progressive campaigns.

In 1971, when the CBC was founded, the median age of its members was 45.  Today, that number has skyrocketed to 62, almost seven years above the median age for the entire House of Representatives.  This 17-year jump is mostly due to an aging class of pols groomed in the throes of the civil rights movement that insist on maintaining their seat at the head of the table of the black body politic.  

For example, after almost a century of combined Congressional tenures, longstanding members like Representatives Conyers and Rangel, ages 83 and 82, respectively, stand emblematic of our present problem.

This unwillingness to transition on into an elder statesman/mentor role and effectively enlist those of us who grew up reading about the Edmund Pettus Bridge rather than marching over it, has, in my opinion, left many of my generation not only estranged from the political process, but worse yet, more cynical about participatory politics.  

While out registering young people to vote in 2008 for President Obama, I was told by several African-Americans on the streets of Philadelphia that the national elections were not only rigged but that there was “no way” a black man could be elected President.  

Though the tenuous history between African-Americans and the ballot box is well documented, I believe some of the fault for these perspectives can be laid at our feet.  In almost every facet of life, be it academia, pop culture, sports, or religion, young African-Americans have long witnessed a “passing of the torch” or sea change.  Well, all except for, you guessed it–politics.  

In the world of politics, it’s as if Larry, Magic, and the rest of Jordan’s 1992 Dream Team are still first string, even though Lebron and Kobe are well into their prime.

During the 2010 midterms, I watched a brazen Tea Party movement, fully steeped and brewed, hijack the national political conversation and put forth candidates from Delaware to Nevada that echoed their sentiments around issues of taxation and debt

And last month, I watched that movement bear fruit on the national stage when 42 year-old Congressman Paul Ryan was chosen as Mitt Romney’s running mate on the national Republican ticket.  

Immediately, I began to wonder: “Where was our young “Paul Ryan” of color?  Where were our new breed of foot soldiers for the 21st century to counter the Janesville native?  We can’t afford to wait on another “Obama” candidate!  

Mr. Ryan was first elected to Congress at age 28, and I cant help but think if some Congressional seats opened up in some of the traditionally minority districts, then maybe we could begin grooming our own twenty-something gurus to champion our modern issues.  He or she wouldn’t listen to AC/DC as Ryan noted, but possibly Jay-Z and Weezy.  They could begin to “occupy” our own street and start restoring the channels of communication and understanding between the youth and the policies that stand in their way.     

Don’t get me wrong, I believe we owe a great debt to the lions and lionesses of the civil rights generation, I just think they have brought us as far as they can.

I believe it’s time for the world to be introduced to the starters of the second half of our movement, men and women that can harness the full vernacular and power posed by social media like Obama, and be responsive in a moment’s notice through Twitter like Newark’s Cory Booker.  

These men and women would organize around green technology jobs and internet access and freedom in the same vein those great men and women of the past organized around living wages and voting rights in their day.

Like anyone, I am grateful for the past efforts of the caucus, but they must understand that today is a new day.  Our parents have their stories of how they helped tackle the larger issues of their day, its time we were left to tackle ours.  And if we are made to wait much longer, I’m afraid we do so at our own peril.  

Years ago, Rep. William Clay, Sr., a founding member of the CBC, famously stated, “black people have no permanent friends, no permanent enemies, just permanent interests.”  And with all due respect, sir, though I thank you for your service, I now believe you’re on our time.

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In case you missed it, one of the most amazing and yet utterly ridiculous things to probably occur during the race for the Republican nomination happened the other day.  No, it wasn’t the former Speaker’s doubling down on his Jacksonian-like claim to manifest destiny well into the final frontier and create a moon colony in space before the end of his second term.  Nor was it Mitt Romney’s odd compliment to Michiganders for the “perfect” height of their state’s trees.  In fact, for a brief moment, through all the back and forth between the GOP hopefuls, one of the three stooges of conservatism actually landed a pretty decent attack on the President.  Only problem, it didn’t make sense.

Last week, Santorum took home the week’s “ridiculist” prize for his inane statement that President Obama was a “snob.”  Not that such claims of elitism and “uppity”-ness have never been levied against the nation’s first African-American president, but the senator did not refer to the President as a snob for the more obvious: his Harvard credentials, avid golf playing, or vacations in Martha’s Vineyard.  The senator from Pennsylvania evidently conjured up the spirit to accuse the President of snobbery because of his encouraging words for the nation’s young people to attend college.  Imagine that!

It has to make you literally scratch your head to figure out what target audience in the Republican Party that gem of a statement was aimed for.  But it has to make you pause and wonder even more why while such a statement has created instant fodder on center-left and left blogs such as the Huffington Post and received both ridicule and extensive examination from networks like MSNBC and CNN, the comment has been barely discussed if not defended by that bastion of cable conservatism, FOX NEWS.

Therein lies the problem.  In a nutshell, our mainstream news structure operates like your current cable package—tailored to your personal viewpoints and interests.  Want more NBA?  Tune into NBA TV.  Love black and white movies?  Well, you don’t want to miss the AMC movie channel.  Feel like President Obama is not your president no matter the results of the election?  Try the Fox News channel on for size.  Believe that Republicans despise poor people?  You’ll feel right at home at MSNBC.

Our nation’s news has become too subjective.  Long gone are the days of Cronkite.  Today, American’s political news sources have a case of ADD, and exists in a constant wrestling match over ratings.  In my opinion, if we are truly concerned about the state of our news, then we must make less room for punditry and make a return to objective “hard” news.  It is not enough to reject those messages from politicians that manipulate and divide, but also the programmers and messengers in the media that frame and dissect our current affairs to exploit our emotions as well.  And, if you disagree, then I’m sure there’s a channel for that too.  Or maybe it’s only on the moon?

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“Favoritism and influence are not…avoidable in representative politics.” – Justice Anthony Kennedy

In the world of comic books, most “super” beings can be readily identified by their backstory: natural selection by a panel of other “super” beings, serendipitous contact with a foreign green fluid-like substance, outer space ancestry, or a certain affinity for dark eye shadow.

And in the real world things aren’t so different. 

In early January 2010, one year after the current president was sworn into office, a panel of nine Washington, D.C. – based supreme beings handed down a decision that gave way to the newest group of “super” beings in our democracy —the “super” donors. The panel—the Supreme Court, and the decision, was, of course, the controversial Citizens United case.  Until then, individuals could spend unlimited sums of money supporting or opposing their chosen candidate, but only directly.  Now, individuals who once could only give $5,000 to their chosen candidate’s political action committee (PAC), are now empowered to give unlimited sums to Super PACs at their own discretion anonymously

To some, this new campaign reality has been a godsend, but to many others it is a step even further in the wrong direction for our democratic republic. In an article, by Lawrence Lessig, entitled Democracy After Citizens United, he states, “the framers did not intend to make representatives dependent upon contributors…representatives were to be dependent upon voters, or, more generally, the People alone.”  With the ever growing influence of money in politics, super donors are elevated to exert a level of influence over the electorate that hasn’t been seen since its founding.  In a way, Businessman Foster Friess becomes John Adams; Casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson is Benjamin Franklin; Paypal founder Peter Thiel is Alexander Hamilton; and PACs such as Mitt Romney’s and Newt Gingrich’s Restore Our Future and Winning Our Future Super PACs can stand to replace the entire Republican Party.

The Center for Responsive Politics, an organization that tracks all kinds of campaign finance and lobbying numbers has recently reported that since Citizens United, the amount of outside money spent in federal elections has grown an alarming 234 % since 2008. At this point in time, during the 2008 presidential campaign only $37.5 million had been raised by PACs, but today a whopping $88 million has already been spent in PAC money.

Today, when citizens of all stripes clamor for a more responsive and flexible government, one that seats all of us at the leadership table they’ll have to keep waiting.  Unfortunately, until the “super” in super donor is no more, very few of our votes will matter much at all.  So until the Supreme Court’s decision is reversed, I’ll gladly take a shot of green fluid to go.

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“I don’t like this forest, it’s dark and creepy.  Of course, I don’t know, but I think it’ll get darker before it gets lighter. Do you suppose we’ll meet any wild animals? 
We might…” –Wizard of Oz

Along the winding yellow brick road to Tampa, the Republican Party’s candidate of choice will require a lot more than mere brains, heart, and courage to win the party’s nomination in the fall.  This presidential cycle, the party seems to be experiencing a bit of primary déjà vu as they select a candidate to contend for the land’s highest office. 

Since the early days of the Bush administration, the party that has grown wealthier and whiter with each election cycle, has become all the more socially conservative and religiously-affiliated; mostly due in part to the growing influence of the “religious right” and rise of the Tea Party. This new alignment has left many moderates behind, and thus moved the center of the party much closer to Oz than Kansas

Today’s Republicans are not just looking for a candidate to tout the traditional plank of a healthy disdain for government, blind allegiance to the free market, and a no taxes or bust mentality; but one who can mend together its disparate wings of corporatism, social conservatism, and libertarianism, in other words, a Reagan-esque figure. Only problem is, even Reagan wouldn’t survive in this right wing political climate.

With the current crop of candidates remaining, it has become all the more apparent to even the most casual political observers that not only can none of the current candidates satisfy the party’s political appetite but no candidate living or dead. The former Massachusetts Governor is said to need more courage on the stump, the Keystone Senator has been accused of not using his brains, and the former House Speaker could stand to have a little more heart in his personal life. This occasional dissatisfaction with the status quo always leads to the beating of a familiar drum—third parties.

With proponents of third parties, the argument is always the same. If we abandon the current system then more work would get done. Fewer allegiances equal less gridlock. Less gridlock equals more deal making and ultimately centrist policies. All of these ideas would do wonders for our politics, but in the end are no more realistic than little green munchkin men and magical ruby slippers

The issue with our current system is not the number of parties, but the influence of special interests, advantages incumbents have over political newcomers, and the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision which deregulated campaign spending by corporations; any new party, whether Green or Libertarian, would be subjected to corporate money and special interests to remain viable under the current system. 

In my opinion, if we truly want to revive our system and make it relevant and responsive once again, whether you’re a tin man or a statesman, we should probably start with nothing more than a little brains, heart, and courage. Sound familiar?

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“What’s real?  What’s not?  That’s what I do in my act, test how other people deal with reality.”  — Andy Kaufman

There’s a war going on outside no (wo)man is safe from. 

No, I don’t mean the “War on Terror” or our country’s entanglement in Afghanistan.  Nor am I referring to the Republican Party’s “War on Women” advertised on CNN, or the President’s purported covert “War on Religion” ginned up by FOX News. 

The battle I speak of poses more of a threat than the one between ‘real’ America, and, I suppose, ‘fake’ America residing between the ears of VP candidate-turned-‘Today Show’-host Sarah Palin, but thankfully requires far less funding than the installation of a Romney family car elevator. 

This war takes place weekdays in living rooms all across the country, inciting both fear and division, laughter and indifference; but the bounty isn’t land, freedom or treasure, but what one man has coined as: “truthiness.” 

In one corner, sits leviathan heavyweights CNN, FOX News, NBC and ABC News; and, in the other, hailing from Comedy Central, satire powerhouses Jon Stewart and Stephen T. Colbert.  Yes, in the information age, where knowledge probably yields more power than it ever has, it appears we left the most important battle to a bunch of comedians.   

Long eclipsing their closest contemporaries at SNL, so-called ‘fake’ news hosts, Stewart and Colbert, nightly pummel those pusillanimous pussyfooter politicians and pundits of all political stripes, Agnew once bellowed about.  Ask them their political leanings and many will assume Democratic, but the two largely operate above the fray due to their seamless dual roles: part pundit, part parody, or in other words, Bill O’Reilly meets Ron Burgundy.  This duality, has left many in mass media and beyond, wondering are they comedians or civic activists?  And, better yet, is the joke on the networks or us?

For six years, the tag team of Stewart/Colbert has sought to “Restore Sanity and/or Keep Fear Alive” in our political discourse by blurring the lines of satire and reality.  Colbert, alone, has testified before Congress, created a Super PAC and held a political rally on the Washington Mall.  Masterfully, the two entertainers have inserted themselves into the vein of the mainstream, creating a political looking-glass for us to better examine our own political culture and beliefs by examining theirs. 

Though many question if they are diluting the very “seriousness” of our politics, it is undeniable that they are engaging a segment of the population that would be turned off to politics otherwise.  Their comedic format has allowed for a more in depth and unhinged approach to discussing issues that the networks have long abandoned.  Wonder why there are no viable third parties?  Why watch a panel moderated by Anderson or Hannity when you could watch a dramatization of a third party being formed through a Stewart/Colbert party filing in your home state?  In my opinion, they are the animated, more mature, modern day version of Schoolhouse Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill.”  And, as far as the joke, if in fact it is on us, then fortunately for us don’t we usually remember the best ones?  

 

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