Understanding Politics: The 2015-17 Republican lake of Fire

During the October 21st ICH (Inter-agency Council on Homeless) meeting Kristy Greenwalt, the first actual director the body has had in its eight and a half year history, mentioned how nobody owns the system and went on to say that we basically have to learn to build relationships and play nicely in the sandbox. While I love her and her approach, building relationships is not my strong suit. Articulating a strong sense of principle that aggressively compels people to something because it's moral and/or sensible is. Both sets of mannerisms are necessary. I've been type-cast as the “bad cop” or the “pit bull on a short leash” for much of my eight and a half years of advocacy. Being nice hasn't worked well for me in the past.

That said, I knew that there was potential for Kristy and I to build a strong relationship when, during her introductory meetings just prior to assuming her post, she said that she WILL make a decision in the absence of consensus. I'm still holding out hope that she'll centralize power and make the body that is charged with ending homelessness in DC effective. But first she needs to be asked to stay by mayor-elect Muriel Bowser.

This past Wednesday a close friend and ally in homeless advocacy told me that he didn't understand politics. Though I could've said a mouthful, I decided to keep it brief, knowing that I couldn't adequately address the topic in the few minutes we had until we reached our destination and delved into other business. However, I DID say that politics are built largely on ignorance insomuch as politicians make promises that they aren't sure they be able to keep and the voting public buys into the promises. Both groups should bear in mind that an elected politician must go through a legislature of 13 to 535 people in order to get a new law passed. The voting public has little or no idea as to how to make a principled choice and the candidates prey on that ignorance. And WHY do we have an electoral college???

I would submit that the general public – voting and non-voting – should use some basic rationale and apply everyday morals to how they vote or politic. One of the first things that I noticed about Barack Obama in January 2009 was that he had what I'll call a non-agenda. He was going to reverse various Bush-era policies. He eventually developed some semblance of a proactive agenda as he pushed for healthcare reform. But his has been a legacy of putting out fires. He's also got a bit of a personality cult thing going on – which will probably define his legacy unless he actually accomplishes something notable in his last two years. Basic rationale should've caused people to realize that simply being AGAINST what someone else has done or is doing – whether on the campaign trail or in office -- does NOT constitute a PLAN. They should've realized that by February 1st, 2009. I did. They should also realize that not voting doesn't mean that they won't be at the other end of the unfavorable policies which elected officials implement.

In the summer of 2010 I was one of many people who developed a tent city on a vacant lot in Washington, DC. It was in protest to former mayor Adrian Fenty having not made good on his promise to build affordable housing on Parcel 42. he broke a number of promises and lost his re-election bid that year. The vice of breaking promises no doubt played into his loss. He should have known that many elections – rightly or wrongly – are built on promises and that failing to keep campaign promises decreases a candidate's chances for re-election. The voting public showed him.

In 2011 the advocacy group SHARC (Shelter, Housing And Respectful Change) formed in order to inform poor people about impending cuts to the budgets for various social services and the negative impacts that these cuts would have on them. Some of the poor people whom we attempted to engage in self-advocacy thought that city officials were just “crying 'Wolf!'” again. Other felt that city officials wouldn't heed our cries. Some SHARC meetings had more emotion than reason. Most of the reasonable people left. But SHARC is one of several advocacy groups that had its heyday during a crisis and then fell apart once the crisis was averted and/or the demands were met. That said, political involvement by the general public only works if there is a sustained effort (as opposed to a campaign), if there is more rationale than emotion among those fighting for change and if people aren't discouraged from advocating or politicking due to politicians and other public officials being unresponsive.

Though I have indicated that I'm not particularly happy with Obama's performance and said that being AGAINST someone or their ideas does NOT constitute a PLAN, I joined the chorus of social justice advocates who came out AGAINST MITT ROMNEY in 2012. All of a sudden, Obama looked like the lesser of two evils. Due in part to a news report about Obama telling Putin that he'd be at greater liberty to discuss certain matters after his re-election, I held out hope that Obama would drop the hammer on Congress in his second term and drive them like the benevolent dictator that the lower/working class needs him to be. He has failed irreversibly. That said, we need a president who is proactive, aggressive and concerned about ALL Americans, not just the wealthy and well-to-do. We need to ensure that we don't vote for someone based on color, gender or personable manner again. Voters need to know what types of people can get the job done and what types can't. After all, we meet both types in our day-to-day activities anyway.

I spent 2013 watching and waiting for Obama to realize that he didn't need to be nice anymore since he can't be re-elected anymore. His kindness hasn't bid well for his party either. So, if party concerns kept him kind, then his rationale is falling short in more ways than I imagined possible for a U.S. president. (In the spirit of continuity, I often attend my church's Bible study and remind other attendees that God is quite the dictator; He squashes His opposition and he has a place where evil men when burn for eternity – THE LAKE OF FIRE.)

In January 2013 I took it upon myself to file a FOIA (Freedom Of Information Act) request with the feds so as to get information about the property rights for the 1,350-bed Federal City Shelter and begin the public conversation about its future. That process has progressed dramatically in the past 22 months. I bring that up to make the point that, when advocating and politicking, you can't always speak in terms of abstract concepts or principles. Sometimes you need to bring specific projects or present specific applications of those principles. Many local advocates speak about the need for affordable housing and living-wage jobs. Some of us bring concrete ideas for legislators to act on.

I've spent much of 2014 expressing my hope that David Catania would win his bid for mayor and become a benevolent dictator who would force DC Government to function well. He lost. Nonetheless, my continuity in the matter of (benevolent) dictatorship remains unabated. As for his democratic opponent, her having won the primary with less votes than Fenty (whose protege she is) lost with four years ago stands as a testament to the ineffectiveness of abstaining from politics and failing to vote. Such tactics just enable a candidate to win office with less votes – after promising to please or even fooling less people.

I knew some time ago that the last two years of all two-term U.S. presidents since the 1950's have always been marked by a majority of the congressional seats in both houses going to the other party – not that of the president – a phenomenon known as “the six-year itch”. With republicans lacking enough senate seats to make them veto-proof, one doesn't need to crystal ball to see that the next two years will be full of votes, vetoes and vindictiveness. However, you might need some spiritual discernment to foresee the political whining that Obama will do throughout 2015 and the revolution that will most likely occur in 2016. I look forward to the latter and pray that I live to see it through to its eventual end. (I'll be 46 in February with the average life expectancy for a homeless person being 52 years.)

That brings us to the “Republican Lake of Fire” that I've referenced a couple of times in recent blog posts. One would rightly assume that one of the ideas behind that phrase is the constant war-mongering of the “party of 'No'”. Many parts of the world have been set aflame by this party. Though I don't fully agree with their perceived sense of principle, I completely understand that one must have an aggressive edge in order to make obstinate people do what they should. Republicans have a fiery, do-or-die way about themselves. It can be a good thing when applied properly.

While they have limited ability to push matters of good principle on the nation and the world, republicans are terrible at process. Irrespective of their unfavorable capitalist flavor, it is hard to argue with the notion that anyone who CAN work SHOULD WORK. However, the repubs seem to think that just pulling the rug out from under people will make them get jobs and hold their own. The GOP fails to adequately address the challenges people have finding or keeping jobs -- like technology taking some jobs away PERMANENTLY.

Democrats are more likely to afford people the personal freedoms that they want such as the right to smoke marijuana. They tend not to hold such demands up to a moral measuring stick. Democrats are also better at adopting humane processes for weaning people off of social services. To the extent that they are unable to create jobs, democrats are less likely – though not completely unlikely – to decrease social service dollars.

All things considered, it would seem that the majority of those who voted in 2014 were hoping for some hardcore governance with a tinge of aggressively-enforced principle. We know that they are dissatisfied with Obama. But I'm guessing that most people didn't imagine that the GOP would be handed such a mandate or the Hell that Obama is bound to go through come January 2015. That brings me back to the “Lake of Fire”.

I'm a firm believer that the various spiritual occurrences mentioned in the Book of Revelation – the four horsemen, Hades, the seven seals etc. – are categories of phenomena, not singular events. I also believe that we have seen and will continue to see various precursors to the “main events” associated with each of these occurrences. Whereas the Lake of Fire mentioned in Revelation is a place of eternal torment for evil men, I'm convinced that God turneth the tide of an election cycle whithersoever He chooseth and that He has turned the tide of the 2014 election cycle against Barack Obama for being too damn sweet, among other things. Obama will be surrounded by a congressional Lake of Fire for his last two years in office. He deserves all the trouble he gets. Pull up a seat and watch him burn.


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