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Brief Impressions At the Still Point 

By David Eide


I like to think in a "nation-state" there exists a nation of free people and a state that is responsive to the people and to the facts in the world. An individual who is also a citizen is always in the quandary of how much democratic ideals or conscience he can apply to his evaluation of the state. And the citizen has the responsibility to keep tabs on what power is doing, what its decisions implicate, and how the state is orientated to the other states in the world, if not orientated to world history.

The key is not being afraid or intimidated by power.

I think this has been established by tradition. Also at the base of the democratic tradition is the belief that power corrupts. And power corrupts as easily in a democratic one as a theocratic or tyrannical one IF the people don't have the ability or the heart to confront the facts.

There is political instinct and the American people respond when change is necessary. The civil rights and Vietnam era saw that, then the tax-payer revolt as the citizens felt the government getting way beyond them. And now a demand of some change in foreign affairs. This comes out of a deep national instinct.

What the people lack is the ability to convert that instinct into something other than helpless pleas for a leader to rise up and save them. Barack Obama being the latest savior.

In America the government is as good as the constituency. If the spirit of the people withers along the way it is only a matter of time before death strikes the heart and brain of the whole system.

That spirit withers when the people are either too frightened, too overwhelmed, or too complacent to generate the ideas and action necessary to shake out the toxins in government and run new fresh streams through it. The people seem on the verge of shaking it out but one wonders about the direction it will take.

The key principle we have learned globally, in the past few decades, is this: You can't hide behind power. This is especially true in a liberal democracy where the people need to grow and develop way beyond the sense stimulated state they are in today. And it appears that the government doesn't really want that to happen and would welcome a wholesale loss of growth and development to some silly collective self that could be easily manipulated.

If a vision of the globe or of the future does not emerge from the people, where will it emerge from? If the people are dumbed down, addicted, superstitious, alienated where will the vision come from? If the state reflects the people then how will it operate in an old world utterly pissed off at America for making it lurch up into the 21st century?

The world and its evil is way beyond the group in power today and it should move the people to think about the nature of leadership now that America has reached the level of power it has.

What is frightening and real to the casual observer is this: America is not the government of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR, Kennedy; it has entered a new phase in its life wholly defined by a culture that has no connection with what has gone on before it.

A people benumbed, bedazzled, bewitched, unprepared for a century that could see nuclear weapons used on a consistent basis and incursions through Mexico into the United States. If this frightening sort of scenario is all the government inspires in the people, good luck.

And the enemies will chortle, "ah you see, freedom does not simply transmutes into a consumption of society and its disintegration...imagine, freedom was too much even for the vaunted American people."

December 9, 2006

I don't think the election yesterday was "historic," but it could very well be the beginning of a new, historic era. Reflecting on the last forty years there have been two historic eras in politics. One was the Kennedy Era and the second was the Reagan Era. They were very distinctive and are becoming very historic in the "passing of time," sense of the word. The Kennedy Era is fully gone as far as animating the political culture and soon the Reagan Era will have the same fate.

Politics is often the interplay between the Era and the adrenaline of the Present. The Era draws the limits and the adrenaline channels through the limits until it is exhausted. If the Era is defined by a kind of boundary-less ethic that often dips into dysfunction it is one thing. If the Era is defined by "no new taxes," or family, faith, and money that often dips into repression then it is another thing.

The Reagan Era was a distinctive male energy that wanted to purify itself after the wet 70's. It did do some marvelous things but, eventually, that energy runs down and becomes corrupt. The energy that was repressed reawakens and shows a new way. It's not that the "feminists" will assume leadership but the feminine energy will gain much more legitimacy in this new era. The Texas male will be shamed. Perhaps, in a moment of speculation, the Al Gore male will come to dominate.

The new Era will be marked by the disgrace of the Republican conservatives. Their time has come and gone. They played a role but now the role must change since what is at stake now is the American enterprise. No faction so anti-science, anti-creativity, ignorant to a fault, unconscious of the grave challenges ahead can stay in power; not with the challenges America faces in the 21st century. A democracy of this sort demands educated, enlightened, experienced citizens, nothing less will stave off the enormous challenge the rest of the world will throw at the United States.

We are now in an Era not yet defined. In other words, a creative Era that will find itself down the road a bit, perhaps in time for the 2008 election, who knows. It is exciting for the experienced mind. Perhaps to the young and naive it means nothing. They will live their cycles; two or three of them at least. They will perceive how the giant will of the nation changes and opens up here, closes off there in ways that are fascinating and uncanny.

The "American Way" that works is never the way of fear and repression. It is always a positive response that ups the ante for character, behavior and values. "Get up to the level of your predecessors, not descend to the false leaders of today."

The people have been morally, spiritually, and intellectually assassinated the past 25 years. They came out of an era that scared the life out of them and tried to wall it all off with money and things. That is not the American response, it is an old, faulty Roman sort of response. The American people are more resourceful than the Romans. And they have just as much to lose.

November 8, 2006

As I fill out my ballot I try to understand how all these things got posted on a printed piece of cardboard. I was impressed with all the energy, hard work, intelligence, and money that went into getting propositions and candidates on the ballot. I boiled it down to three elements: those who propose and run, those who watch, those who vote. If each one of these elements is doing their jobs then the system seems to work ok. If one of them is messed up it will, at the very least, distort the other two. Ideally, a democracy would want the voters to be tremendously well-informed, conscientious, experienced, skeptical without being cynical, hard but not hardened. And now with the internet running wildly a voter can go to many sources of information to get all he or she needs to understand the local issues, state propositions, and federal issues.

And, too, it would be ideal if the media had editors and reporters who set a brilliant lens into the workings of government and gave the voter great clarity about the propositions and candidates vying for their attention. That the media would be as endowed with experts and capital as those running for office or those developing propositions. And, ideally, the people who have assumed these offices would be honest, hard-working, actively engaged in assembling the best information about problems and asserting the wisest solution, without taint of interference from special interests.

That is an ideal that appears like a kindly ghost when holding the ballot in ones hand.

Of course, the real question put to one is this: Who are you loyal to? Is it a party or an idea or a particular issue? Confronted by this question I would say my loyalty rests with the following acid tests:

  • Are you sacrificing for some future?
  • Are you setting aside personal pleasure to build something of value?
  • Have you climbed a mountain to go view the future? What is this mountain and what is the future you see?
  • Tell me the dynamics of how to solve a simple problem like bums pissing in the street?
  • Convince me that you believe law rules over men.
  • Tell me why the belief in God can not rule a free, liberal democracy.
  • Tell me why the non-belief in God leads to diminution.
  • Describe your region as richly as possible.
  • Tell me where you think America exists geo-politically, in the context of world history.
  • Tell me how you are orientated to the contemporary scene.

As with Diogenes and his lamp we keep looking for this person in the public sector.

October 31, 2006

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Why the Democrats are in Trouble

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