Posts Tagged ‘democracy’

Letter From Claverack 03.05.2017 From a very worried place…

March 6, 2017

It is a very chill night, here at the cottage. Jazz is playing softly.  It came to me tonight, that Alexa has been learning about my jazz likes and so when I say “Alexa, play jazz…”  Well, it seems she’s learning my favorites.  I am interfacing with artificial intelligence.

Tonight, I am spending it with me.  And I feel like I’m good company tonight.

It is good to hygge at the cottage tonight.

The noise in my world is incredible right now.  My closest friends on Facebook send numerous posts every day, every hour about our political situation.  Dinner last night was non-stop. At today’s brunch at the Dot, his name wafted through the air. My client is the Miller Center for the Presidency.

Donald Trump owns the conversation, ladies and gentlemen, in my head anyway.

His ratings are through the roof!

And that’s what he likes.

For twenty minutes, I have been sitting here working to find an un-trite way of saying:  I have never seen anything like this in my lifetime.

This is a global phenomenon, our President Trump.  He’s a global big deal and I can’t believe what’s happening.  Come on, whatever side of the aisle you’re on, this is not a normal presidency.

Just isn’t.

Every tweet generates frenzy.

And the Russians are coming…

Every time I turn around, there are the Russians.  Did anyone in the Trump camp NOT talk to the Russians?  Enquiring minds want to know.

Everyday there is a Trump story that carries the news beast through another day.  On good account, I have it that people in the news business are run ragged these days.

Let’s face it: we have a ratings obsessed President.

And his ratings are HUGE.  Which is what he likes.

It’s just not like anything I have ever, ever seen.

It’s not like anything any of us have seen.  If anyone has, let me know, please.

The weekend has been consumed by parsing Mr. Trump’s tweeting that the Obama Administration ordered wiretapping of his phones during the last days before the elections.

Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has said she’s “seen no evidence” and that we need to deal with evidence, not statements.  Bravo.

Senator Richard Burr, also a Republican, and Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said they would follow where the evidence leads in the Russian investigation.  Kudos to you, too.

Senator Rubio posits the President may have information the rest of us don’t.

And, I think, if he does, he should reveal it.

Right now, as I’ve said, one of my clients is the Miller Center for the Presidency at the University of Virginia.  Because of my work with them, I find myself thinking about the presidency and our president a lot.  A lot.

At church today, I heard very little of Mother Eileen’s sermon because my mind was racing on what I should say in a report to them I need to submit this week.

While I am very hygge in my cottage, I am more than a little unnerved by what is going on in Washington.  And that is seeping deeper into my life, the concern I have for the fabric of the country in which I grew up and in which I live.

Oh, yes, I know we will get through this. And I want to be sure we get through this in as healthy a way as possible.

I am one little man, sitting in a cottage on the Claverack Creek in upstate New York.  And I, one little man, can do things to influence how all this plays out.  God help me, I am politically active.  I called my Congressman’s office from Saba to articulate my concerns.

It is time for participatory democracy, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican.  Which means dialogue.

And right now, we aren’t dialoguing.

We’re living in an either/or world and that’s not healthy.

We need to pay attention.

Really, we do.




Letter From New York November 12, 2009

November 12, 2009

Or: As it seems to me

It was Election Day recently, the first Tuesday in November. Since then it seems all political pundits are attempting to read the runes of this just past election to see what it says about the state of the nation: who is up? who is down? Did the defeat of Corzine in New Jersey mean that the nation was turning against Obama? Or did the election of a Democrat in New York’s 23rd District, the first since 1852, signal deep trouble for the Republicans? Ah… my guess is that come the next election pundits will still be parsing this one.

Me? I was voter number two at my polling place, the A. B. Shaw Fire Station at the juncture of 9H and 23, there before dawn broke and certainly before my morning caffeine had effectively coursed its way through my body. However, I was prepared and knew for whom I was going to vote, having read and studied in the week before as I attempted to be a responsible voter. This election was all about the local politics and for the first time in many years it seemed possible that some new blood could be elected to the Board of Supervisors. As I write this, two of the people I voted for have gone down to defeat and one is leading by a razor thin majority. It will take days to resolve this one. The differential is as few as seven votes to possibly twenty-one, depending on which report you read. It is a classic example of why every vote counts and why I am gratified I made the effort to get home to vote. Based on what’s happening, my vote counted.

What happens, unfortunately, in democracies, especially big democracies, is that people discount the fact their vote matters. The closeness of our local election underscores the democratic principle – a single vote counts.

While waiting for resolution to the local election of the week just past, we have celebrated November 11th, Veterans Day, celebrated on this day because on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, soldiers put down their weapons to end the “war to end all wars,” commonly known now as World War I. It is a moment to honor all veterans, all the men and women who have put themselves in harm’s way for the safety of this our democracy [see above about the importance of voting]. I heard the last living veteran of WWI passed away recently – a moment to give us pause – as we are now in some real way disconnected from a conflict that shaped much of the world in which we live, even if we don’t think much about it. There will come a time when the last living veteran of WWII will pass away and we will become disconnected from that conflict which, too, shaped the world in which we are living. There will be a time when the last living vet from Korea will go, from Viet Nam, from Iraq…

History is, unfortunately, made in conflict. And we should capture those voices while we can as there is much to be learned from them, even the smallest recollection enhances our understanding of the human experience, shaped in conflict. Stephen Spielberg has created the Shoah Foundation to capture on video all the stories he can of the Holocaust. Perhaps we should be capturing the history of those who have fought because in understanding what they have endured we might find reasons to not fight in the future…

The lessons to be learned from combat are in the forefront of our minds this week, due to the devastating events at Fort Hood, where many of the victims were preparing for deployment in Afghanistan to help soldiers deal with the stress of warfare.

The glory of war is often told, all the way back to the Iliad and beyond but now we are facing the price of war on the field of battle.