Sunday, May 26, 2024

Most Americans are not informed patriots, but ignorant passives.

Weekly Opinion Editorial


 

INFORMED PATRIOTS

by Steve Fair

 

     “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it,” Mark Twain said.

     The original 16th century European meaning of the term patriot applied to anyone who was a fellow countryman, regardless of socio-economic status.  The term patriot has evolved today into meaning the feeling of love, devotion, and a sense of attachment to a country or state. 

     George Orwell distinguished patriotism from nationalism saying patriotism is by nature defensive, both militarily and culturally.  Nationalism is concerned primarily with a desire for power and prestige.  Anarchists (no government) oppose patriotism.  Because they don’t recognize government authority or geographic boundaries, anarchists declare patriotism arrogant and egotist.  Three observations:

     First, there are patriots of every political stripe.  Americans of all races, ethnicities, and political affiliation can be patriots.  They can love America.  There are times to agree to disagree, not fight to the death with those who differ.   When the bullets are flying in combat, there is no time to check a fellow soldier’s voter ID card for Party affiliation.  All are patriots in the foxhole or in Arlington National cemetery.  Republicans and Democrats don’t have a monopoly on patriotism.  Recognizing Americans- both liberal and conservative- can be patriots is a good first step to healing the divide in this country.

     Second, the term patriot is misused today.  It’s used as a ‘code word’ in certain groups.  The neo-patriots are the pure, others the unclean.  The term patriot is tossed around like a beach ball at a rock concert to identify those who jump higher and run faster than establishment types.  Patriot has become a term to divide, not unite, spilt, not fuse.   Often used by those who claim the name of Christ, it brings us to the third point:   

     Third, Christians should be patriots of heaven.  This world is not their home- they are just a passing through.  Believers should be focused on the eternal, not the temporal.  They should be good citizens and patriotic.  They should exercise civic responsibility.  But they should recognize the temporal nature of politics.  Their allegiance and focus should be on loving God with all their heart, soul and mind and their neighbor as themselves.  When Christians use worldly tactics just to win a temporal election, they put into question their spiritual citizenship.  

     In his farewell address to the nation in 1989, President Ronald Reagan said America needed an ‘informed patriotism.’  “We need to do a good job teaching our children what American is and what she represents,” the Gipper said.  In the 34 years since he said that, Americans are not informed patriots, but ignorant passives.

     Memorial Day was Monday.  It was established in 1868 to honor soldiers who died during the Civil War and is always celebrated on the last Monday of May.    Most Americans look at it as a day to get together with family, have cookouts and start the Summer.  If they were ‘informed, they would recognize the liberty they enjoy cost the lives of real patriots.  American freedom doesn’t exist because a political pharisee shouted louder and was more been more bombastic than a political rival.  Liberty is alive because of the sacrifice of unselfish heroes, who loved country more than life.  May we never lose sight of that!    

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Americans have an opportunity to remember the past!

 Weekly Opinion Editorial

THE MUGWUMPS!

by Steve Fair

     President Stephen Grover Cleveland served as the 22nd and 24th president of the United States (POTUS).  He is the only president in American history to serve non-consecutive presidential terms.  A former mayor of Buffalo and governor of New York, Cleveland was the first Democrat to win the presidency after the Civil War.  A preacher’s kid, Cleveland was described as being honest, self-reliant and being firmly committed to his principles.  He won his first term in 1884 against Republican nominee, James Blaine, the former House Speaker.  Blaine had been involved in several shady deals in his political career and Cleveland promised to ‘drain the swamp.’  Aided by the Mugwumps, Republican activists who rejected Blaine’s history of corruption, Cleveland won all four swing states, including New York by less than 1,200 votes and won the presidency by a razor thin electoral college margin. 

     Cleveland’s first term included his getting married to a 21-year-old.  He was 47.  He also created the Interstate Commerce Commission.  He removed import tariffs.  One of the most volatile issues during his term was if U.S. currency should be backed by both gold and silver.   Views on the silver issue were geographic- Northeasters in both Parties- favored holding firm on the gold standard, while Western and Southern representatives called for the free coinage of silver.  Cleveland favored holding to the gold standard.

     In 1888, the GOP nominated Senator Benjamin Harrison from Indiana.  He campaigned heavily on the tariff issue, which had negatively affected the industrial states in the North.  Cleveland won the popular vote, but Harrison easily won the Electoral College vote.  In his four years, Harrison imposed tariffs and approved the free coinage of silver, both controversial issues. 

    In 1892, Cleveland won the Democratic nomination on the first ballot and Harrison was nominated by the Republicans.  Unlike their former matchup, the election of ’92 has been described as the cleanest, quietest, and most creditable campaign since the end of the Civil War.  Harrison’s wife was dying and he didn’t campaign at all.  She died two weeks before the November election and Cleveland stopped campaigning to show his respect.  No doubt that wouldn’t happen today.

     Aided by a strong third-Party candidate who hurt Harrison among GOP voters, Cleveland easily defeated Harrison and returned to the White House for his second term.  Three observations:

     First, 2024 is very similar to 1892.  Two presidents are running against one another.  Both have clear track records.  Both have occupied the Oval Office.  Both have measurable results in economics, foreign policy, immigration policy and governing style.  This gives voters a unique opportunity for a side-by-side comparison of results.  The political spinning normally associated with campaigns is hard to do when a candidate has a clear track record.

     Second, Mugwumps could be the difference in 2024.  In 1884, the Mugwumps put principle over Party.  They crossed Party lines because they couldn’t bear to support their nominee.   Those in their own Party called them sanctimonious and ‘holier than thou’ because they wouldn’t compromise.  The Mugwumps wanted the swamp drained more than they wanted a Party victory.  140 years ago, the Mugwumps were Republicans.  Could they be Democrats this year?

     Third, history doesn’t repeat itself.  That is a common misconception.  History is linear, not cyclical.  Mark Twain said, “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.”  That means details, circumstances, settings and names may be similar, but history isn’t recycled.  Philosopher George Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  Americans have an opportunity to remember the past when casting their vote in November.

Sunday, May 12, 2024

SQ#832 WOULD HURT THE VERY PEOPLE IT CLAIMS IT WOULD HELP!

Weekly Opinion Editorial


DON’T SIGN #832!

by Steve Fair

     Oklahoma is one of twenty-four states with an initiative petition process.  The process allows citizens to circulate a petition among voters for the purpose of getting an issue on the ballot.  To get a State Question on the ballot as a statute, eight (8) percent of the voters who voted in the last governor’s race must sign the petition.  To make it a Constitutional amendment, fifteen (15) percent of voters must sign.  Two examples of how the initiative petition has worked in Oklahoma:

      SQ#640 was the result of a 1991-92 grassroots initiative petition movement of less than a dozen people in the Sooner state.  Those dedicated, hardworking Okies were sick and tired of getting a tax increase every year from the legislature, so they rolled up their sleeves and did something about it.  They collected the necessary signatures to get the issue on the ballot, educated the electorate about excessive taxation and government spending.  The result was a Constitutional amendment being approved by a 56-44 margin requiring the legislature to approve tax increases by a 3/4th majority vote of the legislature or a direct vote of the people.  Up until two years ago, the Oklahoma legislature had not passed a tax hike in Oklahoma.  SQ#640 has saved Oklahoma taxpayers billions of dollars and is an example of a positive use of the initiative petition process.  Many of those who spearheaded SQ#640 have passed to their eternal reward and those left are now labeled RINOs by the modern grassroots, but that dirty dozen knew true grassroots politics, how to move the needle and make a positive change.

     But not all initiative petitions are good.  An example of a bad petition is SQ 780/781.  Oklahomans passed SQ#780/781 in 2016 under the pretense (lies) of criminal justice reform.   The consequences of 780/781 has resulted in de-criminalizing and reclassifying former felonies and a marked increase in crime across the state.  The point is Oklahoma’s initiative petition process can be used for good and bad, but through it all, the process has worked equally for all citizens.

     Raise the Wage Oklahoma (RTWO) is out collecting signatures to get proposed State Question #832 on the November ballot right now.  RTWO has until July 14th to get 92,263 valid voter signatures.  SQ#832, if approved by voters, would raise the minimum wage in the Sooner state to $9 hourly in 2025 and gradually increase to $15 hourly in 2029.  Oklahoma’s current minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, the same as the federal.  Expect to soon encounter paid solicitors seeking your autograph.  Three observations about SQ#832:

     First, businesses don’t pay wages- their customers do.  Businesses pass their cost (including labor) onto their customers in the form of a price increase.  Raising the minimum wage is a foolish idea that will feed inflation.  Businesses are not sponges.  They don’t ‘absorb’ costs.  It is na├»ve to believe raising the minimum wage will not result in increases in the price of goods/services to the consumer.

     Second, the vast majority of those receiving minimum wage are young people.  They are often working their first job.  If a business is told they have to pay a higher wage, they will reduce the number of employees so they stay within their necessary labor factor percentage.  According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), President Biden’s plan to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 would result in 1.4 million Americans losing their jobs.  That is why Democratic leadership has backed off the proposal.

     Third, government should not be telling business what to pay their employees.  Let a free market determine what wage a person is worth.  If a business is not being fair to their employees, they will have high employee turnover, and will lose their best and brightest.  A good businessperson recognizes their employee’s worth, pays them accordingly and usually prospers.  Penny pinching, cheapskate, money grubbers rarely succeed in business. 

     Don’t sign the SQ#832 petition! If it does get on the ballot, don’t vote for an increased minimum wage.  It will hurt the very people it claims it would help.


Sunday, May 5, 2024

REAGAN'S 11TH COMMANDMENT IS HERESY IN TODAY'S GOP!

 Weekly Opinion Editorial

 A CIRCULAR FIRING SQUAD!

by Steve Fair

     A circular firing squad is defined as when a group experiences considerable disarray because members engage in intense internal disputes and mutual recrimination.  The disputes can be issue or personality driven, real or perceived, large or small, but the goal is to humiliate, discredit, shame and embarrass the opponent.  Accomplishment and performance take a back seat to group think.  Individual thought is discouraged.   Adherence to purity tests is a requirement for membership.  Disagreeing in a civil manner is considered a weak and compromising attribute.  Tolerance for differing ideas is not tolerated.  Bickering reigns in a circular firing squad group.  Until one side gains the upper hand and forces the ‘impure’ to give up and leave the group, chaos reigns.  Nothing gets accomplished until that happens. Three observations about a circular firing squad:

     First, the measure of success of ideas is at the polls. It is not in the triumph of a political convention or rally.  It’s when the general public embraces an ideology or buys into the ideas of a group that success can be celebrated.  

     Both major political Parties are experiencing unprecedented internal conflict.  Ideology separations divide them, making unification next to impossible.  The fruit of these round discharge gangs is gridlock, bottlenecks, and logjams.  The American people are the real losers when groups form circular firing squads and kill their own.

     Second, Ronald Reagan is a false teacher in today’s GOP.  While running for governor of California in 1966, Ronald Reagan said: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.”  Reagan coined the phrase the 11th commandment. Reagan used the 11th commandment philosophy to unite Republicans.  Today that is heresy. 

     Reagan also said a person who agrees with you 80% of the time is a friend and ally, not a 20% traitor.  Reagan used that philosophy to attract conservative Democrats to vote for him in 1980 and 1984.  In today’s GOP, both statements are blasphemy and ignored just like the Decalogue (10 commandments) is ignored in personal interactions.  Political pharisees abound and are thankful they are not as other men are- especially those in their own Party who disagree with them. 

     Third, anger alone rarely produces positive change.  Anger can ignite a cause or fuel a movement.  It can awaken an apathic electorate and provide energy, but at some point, anger must transform to clarity and action.  If anger doesn’t mutate, it will fail.  Anger is prevalent in society. 

     In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said conflict was to be settled quickly with an opponent, but those who love conflict don’t want to settle disagreements.  To the contentious, working out conflict is considered compromise and accommodation.  Discord and squabbles propel their existence and without it, they are unfulfilled.  The fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control are not present in their life. 

     Politics is a temporal activity that incites strong emotions in people.  Often that passion spawns circular firing squads.  Recognizing no political philosophy, idea or single politician can save America is the first step to saving America.  Only God can move on men’s hearts and draw them to Him.  Pray He does before the circular firing squads destroy the United States.