BLOG

Entry titles are in a chronological list, followed by the blogs themselves in chronological order.

LET’S HAVE FOUR MAJOR PARTIES 6-17-24

THE HARM DONE BY POWERFUL MEN 4-20-24

A NEW VISION FOR OUR POLITICS 4-10-24

NEW LIFE FOR OUR POLITICS 3-27-24

EQUALITY AND DIGNITY OF ALL 1-29-24

ARE WE UP TO THE TASK OF HAVING A DEMOCRACY THAT WORKS? 1-24

BORDER ACTION?! 1-7-24

POLITICAL PARTIES TOO CLOSE TO GOVERNMENT 1-7-24

BORDER BLAME GAME 9-25-23

LET’S HAVE FOUR MAJOR PARTIES

Christopher Ebbe, Ph.D.  6-24

One way to soften up our political divide would be to have more political parties, instead of just the two that are locked in a battle to the death to dominate the country and currently seem to spend more time fighting each other than they do legislating.  Also, having such huge parties requires that all opinions and proposals be condensed into a single position before debate, which does not represent the American people well.  This sort of condensation removes any consideration of the real range of options, and the narrowing to only two positions inevitably sets up an either-or battle over who is right and who wins.  Consideration of all positions should take place during debates and committee meetings in Congress and not in each party separately before that.

The obvious party possibilities right now are (1) moderate liberal, (2) progressive, (3) moderate conservative, and (4) populist.  Having moderate liberals and progressives in one party has tilted politics in favor of progressives (since they are more vocal and rightous) and has muted the moderate liberal voice.  Having moderate conservatives and populists in the same party has given all the airtime to the populists and almost wiped out the moderate conservative voice.  (You will note that theoretically there would be two more parties in this array—conservatives who are more conservative than moderate conservatives and liberals who are even less liberal than moderate liberals, but these groups have almost disappeared from public view since the focus has been all on progressives and populists.

This realignment will be vigorously opposed by progressives and populists, since they have both gained disproportionate influence by being combined with moderates.  The Democratic Party has counted on votes for the Party from moderates even though the moderates do not agree with the progressives, and the Republican Party has counted on votes from their moderates even though they don’t agree with the populist views and agenda.  The net result of media coverage of only the more sensational progressives and populists, again, has been lack of coverage and influence of the moderates, who far outnumber the progressives and populists!  If we believe that the views and wishes of each citizen should be equal in influencing the future of the country, then our present situation in effect disenfranchises more than half the population.  No Labels tried to be a moderate liberal party but couldn’t compete with the monolithic Democratic Party.

It will be painful to separate these two major parties into four, but it will give a more accurate representation of all the American people than we have now.  Let us hope that party stalwarts will value their own moderate positions enough to give full voice to them!  Change is always hard, but our current setup is driving more people away from politics, when we need every voice for our democracy!

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THE HARM DONE BY POWERFUL MEN

Christopher Ebbe, Ph.D.   4-24

ABSTRACT:  We as humans have a strong tendency to glorify powerful men for their accomplishments and ignore the harm that they do.  This bears examination since ignoring that harm leads ordinary humans to support powerful men who may well harm them.

KEY WORDS:  power, powerful men

Human beings have a strong tendency to glorify powerful leaders, praising their accomplishments while ignoring the harm that they do in the course of their careers.  Voters prefer candidates who seem to be powerful to those who do not seek power, and persons in positions of responsibility who do not seem powerful are criticized and discounted (Pres. Carter).  Because they are powerful, we automatically assume that the leaders of Microsoft, Apple, and Meta must be admirable people and give little credence to intimations that they are manipulating us psychologically in the name of advertising.  Leaders such as Hitler and Stalin did enormous amounts of damage to the people of their societies, but we still (sort of) admire them for their seizures of and wielding of power.  Generals such as Napolean and Alexander the Great are praised as geniuses, but their armies decimated the areas in which they moved and fought, taking (stealing) foodstuffs and other needed supplies from local people instead of having supply lines for all that was necessary.  Presidents and generals who win wars are praised for that while we ignore the costs in deaths and destruction to their own societies and to the defeated countries of those wars,.  When we think of Napoleon as a great man (or the Duke of Wellington), we imagine them in the role of acting for our own country, but they were not.  They were acting for their own countries and quite willing to subject anyone in their path—especially other countries—to destruction, and they would have destroyed the United States, too, if it had been necessary or convenient to do so.  Powerful men always leave some destruction in their path, whether that is other societies or in their own.

Consider the damage being done right now in Sudan, where two warlords each control about half of the country and both are dedicated to overcoming the other warlord.  Many people are starving, and many have fled the country.  There is immense suffering, but these powerful men are putting their own glory and sense of power above the needs for survival and comfort of the Sudanese people.  Take a look at the alternatives—peace or war, and tell me which is “better.”  In no moral system can the psychological needs of one person (or a small cadre of persons) be greater in importance than the survival of thousands of other people.

One could argue that in some cases a powerful man/woman champions a cause that will be of immense value to his/her society, but I doubt that you have ever seen an explanation of this to balance the automatic value we give the powerful person for the actions taken.  What great cause did Napoleon champion?  Yes, there was restructuring of government in France, but of what value was it intended to be?  Has the CEO of Facebook ever explained what great societal values he is promoting?  We can give powerful men who are fighting primarily to preserve the survival of a society credit for that, but when that is not at issue, have you ever seen a rational argument about whether war would be better for that country than some alternatives?

Consider the similar damage being done right now in Ukraine, where the psychological safety needs of Mr. Putin are being put above the lives of millions of Ukrainians (and thousands of Russian citizens serving in Russia’s army).  Russia as a country does not “need” to incorporate Ukraine and made no indications of such when the treaties were signed regarding Ukraine’s ongoing independence.  Ukraine is no threat to Russia, and NATO is no threat to Russia either.  Western countries and NATO have no wish to take over Russia.  NATO only exists because of Russia’s unpredictability.  The only “need” being served by this war is Mr. Putin’s “need” to seek more power for Russia (and for himself as supreme leader).

Mr. Putin maintains his leadership position by lies and savagery to his own people, which is what makes NATO seem necessary to other countries.  The leaders of NATO countries are under the control of the people in those countries, by right of their democratic voting, and those peoples have no desires to take over Russia, whereas the leader of Russia is not subject to his people, due to rigged elections and lies to his people about their danger from NATO.  This is what makes him (and Stalin before him) a danger that requires preparation and vigilance.  The Russian people have no desire to take over other countries (except for the fear engendered in them by Mr. Putin’s lies).

The alternative to war is not complete pacifism.  When a country is attacked, of course it will fight back, and of course there will be death and destruction, but at the time of declaring war and especially after the war is over, we fail to reconsider whether the war was really “worth it” or whether some other solution (e.g., diplomatic or treaty) would have been better, comparing the gains and losses of a diplomatic solution with the gains and losses that occurred because of the war.  The American public has never seen such a retrospective examination of the Vietnam “war”, for example; it is simply seen as an unfortunate defeat that we wish had been a victory.

Why Do We Choose People as Leaders Who Have Power Needs?

There are multiple factors that account for our preference for powerful leaders.  (1) We assume, fearfully though mostly unconsciously, that other countries are all potential enemies (even our allies), and we want to be prepared for conflicts by having a powerful person who, like a male gorilla, will seem scary to other countries, and a person who in his/her love of power will fight hard to save the country (and preserve and enhance his/her personal power).

(2) We are used to living with a social structure template with a strong person at the top.  Our earliest experiences are of being dependent on and hopelessly inferior to our parents, and we are always aware of who “wears the pants” in a family.  We are trained to defer to such a person and to follow his/her orders, so we are most comfortable with this arrangement of power in comparison to others (such as democracy, or the rule of equals).  (We are also more used to having that powerful person be male, but this is changing slowly.)  Many people seek a leader mainly to protect them, as their parents did, and have no confidence in the power of the citizens united for the protection of the country (which is how a democracy should work).

(3) Since powerful persons are in total control of our lives in our early years, most of us grow up wanting to have some of that power ourselves and some want to have power over others, too, either to be more like their parents or to feel more secure.  Persons who seek power may be near-phobic about others having power over them (and therefore seek to have the greater power themselves), or they may seek that power over others so they can force others to give them what they want.

(4) We have evolved as a species with individuals and groups who are willing to be in situations of danger for which we can find emotional justification, such as fear of enemies, desire to defend our loved ones and the group, or simple greed.  We are, in other words, ready to fight, whether that is on the streets (for respect from our peers–e.g., with gangs) or on the battlefield.  We glorify fighting for the right, all the way from cowboy movies to battlefield stories, and this predisposes us to ignore the cost in people and materiel of these conflicts, since to take those costs seriously could impair to some degree our willingness to fight.  Powerful leaders go to great lengths to support this glorification and promise us personal value for fighting for the cause.  The U.S. engages in wars partly by hiding the costs from citizens—e.g., paying for the Iraq war mostly by borrowing instead of raising taxes and thus raising questions about whether citizens want to pay those costs enough to engage in the war.  Religion supports this fighting to the extent that it is allied with the state or is fighting for what it sees as self-preservation (e.g., the promise to Muslims of heaven for martyrdom in defense of Islam).

(5) As animals, our decisions are fundamentally ruled by our emotions.  It is needs and emotions that point us toward goals, and thinking is mostly for choosing the best route to the goal.  We think that we make decisions consciously by weighing up pros and cons, but when you come right down to it, that weighing up is mostly to try to justify what is already our emotional inclination so that we could defend it to others (and to our consciences).  Since our inclination to fight is basically an emotional force, we avoid complications such as thinking about the costs of fighting.

 Relating to a Power-Hungry Person

The impulse of many is to relate to the power person as to a parent, feeling safer because of the presumed protection of a benefactor, hoping for help when in need, and feeling gratitude, as if the power person were responsible somehow for the good parts of one’s life (as we realized as children that our parents were responsible for the good in our lives).  The reality is that the power person can support and tolerate a person who is benefiting him/her, but the minute you question his/her power or do something he/she doesn’t want you to do, you will be cast out or perhaps destroyed.  The power person has no real loyalties, since he/she cannot trust anyone he/she does not control through money or secrets.  In order to connect with him/her, you must give up control to him/her.  The power person also knows that there are other power-seeking persons in the wings scheming and waiting to take his/her power away for themselves, which makes him/her even more dangerous.

Benefits of Realism Regarding Power Persons and Wars

There could be advantages to bringing the various costs of conflicts to the public’s attention, since it would produce a more sober assessment of whether we really want to pay those prices.  The point would be not to prevent all violent responses to threat or harm but to help the country to come out on the other side of a conflict with the best possible outcome.  (We are seeing in Ukraine right now the dilemma of whether to accept a peace that means the loss of some of their country to Russia or to keep fighting and pay the additional prices for that.)

(1) Voters could make more rational decisions about who to vote for if they took into account the possibility that electing a powerful leader actually may make it more likely that the country will be going to war, as the powerful leader defends his/her own ego needs for power or seeks power over other countries to add to his/her own power.  We can choose to have leaders who do not have this need.  Having a psychological analysis of potential leaders would help, though we would need to have five or so such analyses by different “experts” in order to correct for the personal biases of experts!  Requiring potential leaders to express in writing their personal reasons for seeking elective office would help as well (along with analyses of those writings).

(2) Congresspersons could make more reasoned decisions about war if they were required to evaluate information about the costs of a proposed war, including videos of battle and the effects of battle (e.g., the effects on Gaza of the current conflict there).

(3) The people could be consulted via referendum about whether to enter a war situation by giving them realistic cost estimates and realistic information about the damage to the country that can be expected and the expected numbers of dead and mutilated citizens.

(4) An amendment to the Constitution to allow recall elections regarding the position of President at any time upon petition of a sufficient number of citizens would allow another option for citizens to change their minds about the benefits and costs of a powerful leader’s actions.  (Some powerful leaders might respond by declaring martial law, which we could require Congress to approve.)

(For a consideration of the difficulties people have with non-power-oriented societal pyramids, see my essay “Democracy Is Unnatural” in www.livewiselydeeply.com under “government.”)

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A NEW VISION OF POLITICS

Christopher Ebbe, Ph.D.    4-10-24

My quixotic run for the Presidency is fueled by a vision of how our politics could be, if enough of us want it to be different.  My vision is for us as individuals to be active politically, by talking with our friends, family, and neighbors about important policy issues in a sane and respectful way and by communicating our wishes frequently to our elected representatives.  This would be so much more productive than looking on the internet for people who seem to agree with us and then stroking each others’ egos about how right we are.  Democracy is hearing from all the people—every one of us!

What democracy is not is paying people to do our political work for us–contributing to political parties, expecting parties to tell us what to think and how to vote.  We weaken democracy by electing people who put their own careers above the good of the country.

What democracy does not have to be is having two gigantic political parties who spend most of their energies trying to gather enough votes to outvote the other side, rather than getting anything done in the way of solving problems.

Note that the way we have arranged things leads inevitably to conflict.  People gather together, naturally, with people who think like they do, and these groups (parties) then advocate for how they would like the country to be.  Since individuals (and groups) will always have different views on what needs to be done and since people in these groups (parties) are encouraged by the fact that a lot of other people seem to agree with them, they are unlikely to ever again question their own positions, thus leading eventually to the uncompromising, entrenched, unchanging political landscape that we have now.  The parties and our relying on them are the major source of the problem! 

The solution is to limit political parties to formulating policy positions and educating the public and prohibit the parties from having, funding, or endorsing candidates for office.  Candidates will arise without the parties, and having a standard, inexpensive way for candidates to tell voters about themselves, like brief written materials and a brief video that government would make available to all citizens for free, will be sufficient to start campaigns.

We do not need political parties to have a government.  We need candidates who think independently and will vote independently of how a party tells them to vote and who have the courage to do what is best for their constituents and right for the country even when some disagree.

The Democratic and Republican parties have become proxies for conservative and liberal approaches to solving society’s problems, so naturally they will be in conflict.  My vision is for each of us to take what is useful from the ideas of both approaches and meld that into ideas and legislation for action.  In other words, we need both kinds of ideas to do the best for the country.  No one approach or vision can be appropriate for all circumstances and problems, so we should deal with problems with all the tools we have.  Conservatives tend to hold back from fixing things that are not broken, even if they could be improved.  Liberals tend to want to improve everything right now, without consideration of the upset that can be created by that.  Conservatives are afraid of disturbing current equilibria, even if that could improve certain things. 

We need both ideas, but they don’t have to exist separately.  We don’t need parties to enunciate polar opposite views–you can have both kinds of ideas inside you and then make up your own mind, creatively, about what to do with a problem.  You can decide how to improve certain things with the least disruption, and you can decide when it is better to hold back.  To take an all-or-nothing stance about solutions (my way or the highway) makes working together impossible

For this political utopia to exist, we will need to be able to talk with each other about our differing ideas about solving problems, with respect and courtesy.  We will have to accept that every person’s wishes about policy should have the same weight as every other person’s.  We are all equal as citizens.  We will have to accept that we all do have different ideas and that our democracy of equals requires that everyone have a chance to express his/her ideas.  To do so amicably requires that we not be upset by the fact that we have differing ideas (no matter how bizarre), and that we be able to hear other’s differing ideas with an open mind.  Since we are equals, we will have a healthy democracy if we express our ideas and think about our ideas together without trying to force other people to change their ideas by intimidating them (shouting, threatening, etc.).  The steps are simple.

1. Start these conversations knowing that you are not going to completely agree and accepting that learning about another person’s ideas and sharing your ideas with that person is sufficient reason to have the conversation.  You may well change your ideas a bit as a result of hearing other people’s ideas, as will they. This makes everyone’s ideas better.

2. Ask enough questions that you understand what the other person thinks and why they think that.  “What has led you to see it that way?”  “What in your background has made you think that?”  “How would you implement that idea?”  Don’t criticize or tell the other person that he/she is wrong!  The ballot box is where you get to express your ultimate disagreement.

3.  Explain your own ideas to the other person, using the same general approach.  “What has led you to see if that way?”  “What in your background has made you think that?”  “How would you implement that idea?”  It will help if you think about these questions before you start the conversation.  Of course, you are free to have your ideas, whatever they are, but communicating them requires that you be able to talk about them coherently and explain how they would affect other people in the country.

Practice listening without judging and explaining your own positions clearly.

Think about combining the best of conservative and liberal thought in yourself as you search for answers! 

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A NEW POLITICS FOR OUR COUNTRY!

Christopher Ebbe, Ph.D.   3-27-24

In order to solve our political divide and enmity, in my quixotic campaign for the presidency I am advocating re-emphasis on the basic equality of all citizens.  We all should be equal with respect to government (and the law).  Each citizen’s wishes regarding governance should count just as much as those of any other citizen.  No one should be favored over any other citizen.  Lobbying is destructive to our democracy because lobbyists advocate for measures that favor some citizens and disadvantage others.  Government should be about what is right for all the people, not about enabling any person or group to gain wealth or power (or be re-elected).  So many people have a basically negative view of government now (and are not motivated to vote) because so much of it seems to be exactly that—jockeying among various power groups for advantage.   It is natural for people to form political associations such as political parties, but to view these as primary—as more important than individual citizens—takes away from our democracy.

The basic equality of all leads directly to the importance of compromise in legislation.  Our democracy should not be a contest about who can win (and force others to live as the winner sees fit) but a process of figuring out what will do the most for all our citizens and at the same time do the least damage.  This means compromise, and it should be approached as something desirable rather than something that we only do when forced to.  Groups that wish to force other citizens to live as they want them to are all destructive to our democracy.

It is critical for us to redesign our system to involve citizens more in governance.  This country’s elections are sliding into a boring, tedious state of entertainment/spectacle/power struggle between our two behemoth political parties that control who can be viable candidates through their long-established networks of loyalists and their candidate funding.  Right now the citizens who participate most visibly in politics are those who like to fight rather than talk seriously about issues.  The parties themselves are declining in loyalists, since they each number about a third of the nation’s voters (again out of boredom and frustration), since they engage grassroots folk only through stimulating them to feel fear of the other side.  The two major parties no longer have coherent political philosophies aside from winning.  

Our national elections have become open only to persons who already have considerable name recognition (which may come about for various non-electoral-related reasons), but for the sake of our democracy, elections should be about electing the best person for the job.  For President, this would include ability to formulate clear policy positions, good judgment with respect to hiring, ability to develop useful compromises on policies and legislation, focus on doing what is best for the country and not just for his/her “side,” etc.  (For a complete job analysis, see “Choosing a President” on my website ebbeforpresident.com.)

In the current state of politics, candidates actively seek to have voters not know about their positions, since every position is likely to alienate some group of voters.  This is based in federal politicians seeking careers in elected positions rather than seeking to simply serve the people.  Yes, we have representative government, but those representatives should focus only on serving the people and not on their re-elections.  If elected officials served for a limited time, then serving would be detrimental to the regular careers they would have to go back to, but the negative results of having career politicians (like voting to preserve their careers rather than doing what is best for the country) outweigh the positives (like understanding how the government works and being able to “get things done”).  I predict that term limits for Congress will become necessary, as proven by, among other things, the inability of Congress by itself to control its spending.  Congress keeps on spending, regardless of the party in the majority, because they fear upsetting voters (by cutting back on services or increasing taxes) and they wish to do things for their constituents to keep their votes, so they are willing for us to borrow and go deeper and deeper into debt.

In Congress, it would represent the will of the people much better to have Congresspersons “vote their conscience” on every bill, rather than vote the way the party dictates.  Yes, parties wrangle within themselves to come to a party position on bills, but the parties are not the important constituents here—the citizens are!  By insinuating the parties into our political processes (like having the states hold their primaries for them), we act as if the parties deserve representation rather than the citizens.  We can see clearly that in our current system, it is the parties who have power and not the citizens.  In the long run this is destructive to our democracy.

Since choosing the best person for the job is so important, we must take the money out of politics.  It would be better for our democracy if citizens publicly expressed themselves about candidates and policies instead of contributing to candidates or parties that they want to speak for them.  Corporations are free to express themselves about policy matters, but giving money to candidates is seeking influence and is not expression.  Money in politics should be only for informing voters accurately about a candidate’s qualification and positions.  TV ads do not do this!  All candidates should describe in words or orally their qualifications and positions, and these should be communicated to all citizens at the expense of government. 

I am convinced that the majority of citizens favor this approach to elections (choosing the candidate who will do the job best; emphasis on policy and not on personality; minimizing manipulative lies in campaigning).  Those who speak out the most about issues (and thereby control the primaries) should not be taken to be the whole of the citizenry.  (Our media are seriously at fault here for their exaggerations and hyperbole.)

A renewed emphasis on citizens’ equality and on finding effective compromises, together with term limits, can inspire and revitalize our whole approach to governance.  Let’s resist the entertainment spectacle and focus on what’s best for the nation.  (For more, see my campaign website ebbeforpresident.com and my book A Compassionate, Moderate Political Platform for 2024.)

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EQUALITY AND DIGNITY OF ALL 
Christopher Ebbe, Ph.D.   1-24

Society works best when there is basic equality among all citizens, by which I mean that citizens are valued equally as citizens in various ways–

  • our laws apply to everyone equally,
  • everyone has sufficient opportunities in life to feel that he/she can have a good life,
  • no one is favored above anyone else by government,
  • everyone is expected to contribute significantly to our well-being and defense,
  • everyone has opportunity to voice his/her needs and to have impact on how the country makes its decisions,
  • everyone is treated by everyone else as a basic equal, with respect and courtesy.

Restoring Equality Among Citizens

The bedrock principle needed to bring our country back to greater harmony and capacity to work together is the principle of equality.  We are all equal as citizens.  The needs and views of each citizen are just as important for the country as the needs and views of every other citizen and should carry just as much weight in the country’s decision-making.  No citizen is more important to democracy than any other citizen.  This means that Progressives must view Maga supporters as equal citizens and take their needs seriously.  (Mr. Trump exists as a symbolic figurehead only because Maga supporters have real concerns and needs, which the country as a whole must recognize and attend to. Liberals’ contemptuous rejection of Mr. Trump means to Maga supporters that he is the only one who will listen to and legitimize their concerns.).  The same applies vice-versa, of course!  We cannot demonize and discount other citizens without getting the same from them and destroying our ability to work together.

Every person has fundamental value just for being a person.  No individual is inherently any “better than” any other individual, and no person’s future should be determined solely by social status.  Claims to be “better than” someone else are destructive to democracy.

I believe that equality is a principle that we can all get behind, and by doing so we can work together for the benefit of all.  Everyone who is carrying out his/her responsibilities to loved ones and to the country deserves dignity as a basic equal and to be treated with respect and courtesy.

 By my example as President and by promoting the principles of good government and decent treatment of others described in my platform, I will lead the effort to bring us back together.  No other candidate has any idea of how to do this.  I challenge them all to describe the kind of society that they wish to create and how they will bring us closer together.  Calls for “working together” that really mean that “we will work with you if you agree with us” are grossly hypocritical.  (You can find my vision for our country in my campaign book A Compassionate and Moderate Political Platform for 2024 and on the website ebbeforpresident.com.) 

We are all equals as citizens.

Democracy is about hearing every citizen’s opinions.

Your voice should count just as much as any other citizen’s voice.

If you want to be taken seriously, you must take the rest of us seriously, too.

Government decisions should be made by considering the impact on all citizens.

Because we are all equal as citizens, we should treat each other with basic respect and courtesy at all times.

It is a mark of emotional immaturity to think that you can and should get your own way to the detriment of others or that you should get a bigger share of the pie than others just because of who you are.

Trying to win and trying to beat others are the problems in our democracy.

Give up trying to “win” politically, so we can work together.

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ARE WE UP TO THE TASK OF HAVING A DEMOCRACY THAT WORKS?
Christopher Ebbe, Ph.D.   1-24
My solution for our political divide and animosity is (1) return to viewing all citizens as equal with respect to government (rather than “you’re stupid or evil, and my ideas are automatically better than yours”) and (2) establish compromise as the norm for our democracy.  I believe that each citizen’s wishes with respect to government are just as important as those of any other citizen.  Our democracy does not assign votes by status (e.g., some get 1 vote, some get 2, some get 1.5)—instead everybody has 1 vote, making us all equal.  If we want our wishes to be taken seriously by others, then we have to take others’ wishes seriously, too.  Also, it is difficult to demonize or categorically reject people you also claim to see as equals, so if we can see each other as equals, we can work together. 

This means that the Maga adherent must accept that the views and wishes of a college professor count just as much as his/hers do (not more and not less), and the college professor must accept that the Maga adherent’s views and wishes are just as important as his/her own.  Because we each have unique DNA and experience, we will see things differently, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t work together.  If we take others’ needs seriously, then we can naturally think about how to help others get what they want so that we can get what we want.  There is also an added benefit to seeing each other as equals and working together, which is the good feeling of all being in the same boat with a bunch of other people who all have at least some concern about our welfare, instead of a boat in which people are scheming to throw others overboard.  We will still strive to get just what we want, but not at the cost of killing others or sinking the boat.

Our divide and enmity are rooted in our own invidiual attitudes toward each other.  Can we accomplish this change of attitude?  We can if we value our democracy more highly than we value each of our momentary desires.  It is natural for human beings to want what they want and to vie with others to get what they want, but (at least when we are relatively calm), we also evaluate all the pros and cons of each of our desires relative to the pros and cons of our other desires.  Everybody will get more of what he/she wants in a situation where we are compromising to solve problems as best we can instead of fighting each other to a stalemate and never solving any problems.  For example, I would prefer to raise the minimum wage right now, but I know that there are some who don’t want to raise the minimum wage right now, and I value having a working democracy more than I value raising the minimum wage again right now (because I will get more of what I want over the long haul if we work together to get everyone as much of what they want as possible), and even though I’d like to raise the minimum wage, in order to have a working democracy where we take steps to solve our problems (in contrast to our current situation of always fighting about things and refusing to compromise), I’m willing to consider compromise and listen to why other people don’t want to raise the minimum wage right now.  I hope you are, too.

Our country seems also to be in a period of people assuming that we should get what we want (our consumerism teaches us this), which means that the individual’s desires are more important than those of everyone else (which is not equality, right?).  Each of us will need to give up that attitude—that we should get what we want—and accept that since each person’s desires are just as important to him/her as ours are to us, we should make an effort to see that we all get at least some of what we want, even though no one gets everything he/she wants.  That is compromise.  It’s better if we all get something we want instead of getting nothing but stalemate, even if we can’t get just exactly what we want.

Each of use has principles that are very important to us, such as “violence is almost always wrong” and “citizens should be as free as possible instead of controlled by government.”  In compromising, these bedrock principles must be respected, so there are ultimately limits to how much each of us is willing to compromise, but I believe that useful compromises can still be made about almost all of our issues without violating our most cherished principles.

This attitude (we are all equal and will need to compromise in order to have a better country) must be bilateral, of course.  If only some people care about others’ welfare and lots of other people don’t, then those who don’t care will take advantage of those who do care.  This situation will soon break down into more fighting.

There are a few people who seem just to like to fight, so they are not motivated to give up fighting, but if you are like me and prefer a working democracy to a dysfunctional one that is always stuck and unable to act, then I hope you will take this attitude issue seriously and get behind the idea that we are all equals with respect to government.  It will take an “attitude adjustment” on your part (and everyone else’s)  to make this work.  Are you willing to work together to get what you can, instead of everyone fighting so that oftentimes no one gets anything?  I hope so!

1-7-24 Border Action?!
I applaud the efforts of Senators and Representatives this week to finally make some changes in our border policy. They seem to be including many of the things I identified in my platform–adjusting the definition of asylum and the conditions for it, faster determinations on asylum, immediate deportations of those who do not qualify, more and better facilities at border entry points. It sounds like more will be needed regarding the numbers of immigrants that we seek to have (to maintain our workforce), and it will be challenging for Congress to pay for all this, but we desperately need it to be done, so thanks!

1-7-24 POLITICAL PARTIES TOO CLOSE TO THE GOVERNMENT
Christopher Ebbe, Ph.D.
I am arguing in my platform that our two major political parties have too much power in the workings of our government, and here we have a result of that excessive power.  The current kerfuffle over whether states can bar a person from their state’s primary ballot makes it sound like every state must have a primary election and this is an integral part of our political process.  This is patently false.  The political parties are not part of the government.  No state is required by the Constitution to have a primary election.  I suspect (but do not know) that taxpayers are paying for these primary elections, the only purpose of which is for the political parties to select their candidates for the general election.

Political parties are associations of citizens for the purpose of influencing government.  This is appropriate, but it should be separated from the activities of government.  A political party is free to select its candidate by itself and to pay for that process.  A party convention used to be the way to do this, but now primaries are used, which is inappropriate unless they are held by each political party and not by each state.  (If the primaries were general primaries in which the candidates of all parties were on one ballot and the top six vote-getters in the primary, regardless of party, became the actual general election ballot, then that primary would be appropriate for public support, but not the kind we have now that simply helps the parties select their own candidates separately.)

So, it should not be up to the states to bar people from the current primary ballots, it should be the responsibility of the parties, and they should have full responsibility for the outcomes and should pay the entire cost.  It should be up to the federal courts to bar anyone from the general election ballot that does not qualify (e.g., supporting insurrection against the Constitution).

If for some reason unknown to me, the two major parties have managed to get Congress to OK this primary arrangement and to have taxpayers pay for them, this is simply wrong and destructive to our democracy.  (See my platform section on Diminishing the Power of the Major Political Parties.)

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9-25-23 Border Blame Game

BORDER BLAME GAME
The blaming back and forth about the border between the Administration and the Republicans is embarrassing to anyone who would like to see a solution to our Texas border crisis (which is grossly unfair to the towns on the border).  Under Mr. Trump, the flow of potentially illegal crossings at our Texas border was under control but certainly not zero.  Now, crossings are up at the moment, due to the special deal the Administration is giving those from Venezuela.  Neither the Administration nor the Republicans will say what it wants.  “Close the border” is not reasonable or acceptable, but the Administration won’t say what its goals are in terms of asylum/refugee/regular immigrants, so we don’t know how they view this situation.

There is very little recognition in the media that Congress is most responsible for this mess.  We need immigration policy reform, and we need it now!  Congress must set goals for the numbers of various types of immigrants it wants to admit, revise our notion of asylum, and then provide the money to properly staff the border in Texas.  The current dictum that “if you set one foot on U.S. soil, then you must be processed” cannot be maintained.  Only a certain number should be admitted per day, regardless of how they cross the river and regardless of whether they have had a foot on U.S. soil.  Until Congress does this, members of Congress have no place to criticize what is going on, because they are not doing their part of the job.

The Administration must then implement the new policies humanely.  I believe that sufficient hearing officers or judges must be provided there at the border to hear every case within two weeks, while the immigrants reside in comfortable detention facilities at the border.  Those not meeting criteria should be immediately deported.  Let’s get busy!!  Notify your Congresspersons of their failures and responsibilities!

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