Friday, December 30, 2016

Michelle Obama, Hopelessness and Hope

Michelle Obama recently told Oprah Winfrey that America is entering a period of hopelessness and we have reasons to agree and to disagree. However, as a Black man, I will boldly say that we should avoid wallowing in pity while sitting on the dock of the bay and waiting on the world to change (even though it has a nice rhythm to it). We must force change. Before we can do that, we must know what we are changing, what we are changing it from and what we are changing it to. Otherwise we're hopelessly stupid and lacking any notable ability to do any critical thinking. That leads nicely into my first set of observations.

In 2008 Barack Obama ran for president on a campaign promise of "hope and change". The mere vagueness of his campaign slogan and those of other politicians at all levels of government is a sign that those in power are either hopelessly stupid and impotent or hopelessly evil -- like a "political epicurean paradox". As if to play a cruel joke on America, the supposed "god-emperor" who ran his campaign around the slogan of "making America great again" (i.e. bringing the hope and change we were already supposed to have by now) responded to Michelle Obama's vague statement with an even longer volley of vague values that he'll vie for.

The voting (...err registered) public, which is well over 100 million strong, is no better in that they fall for the same trick time and time again, which makes it unnecessary for some 50,000 elected officials at the state and federal levels to step up their game, which means that these politicians don't need to think hard or to keep Americans' best interest at heart by reason of a critically thinking voter base looking over their shoulders. Our public officials slowly but surely downgrade the quality of their governance which decreases the public's trust in government which decreases voter turnout which makes it easier for government to further downgrade the quality of their governance. This, of course, leaves American's hoping for better governance -- whatever that means to your particular party or faction. We are caught in a hopeless and vicious cycle of low engagement and high enragement.

It's not just the first lady and the voting public that feel a sense of hopelessness. Even those in power feel it. Secretary of State John Kerry recently talked about the hopelessness of there ever being peace in the Middle East -- a decades-long and yet unsuccessful effort. It joins the ranks of the war on drugs, the war on terror and the war on poverty -- each of which created more of what they ostensibly sought to eliminate. It stands to reason that wars on intelligence, good governance, affordable housing, housing-wage jobs and other necessities would create an abundance of those very things. War is profitable...as long as we fight AGAINST the good we want. (Maybe the epiphany that is manifesting here is that we should stop all wars. Hmmm.)

I'm left to wonder if similar logic would work at the local level. After all, DC Government tried to end homelessness for 8,253 people in 2004 and calculated 8,350 such people in 2016 -- having realized recently that they may have missed at least 330 people during the January count. (I'll soon float the idea that they actually try to CREATE homelessness and see if their propensity for screwing things up persists.)

Though there is a seemingly infinitely long list of problems that can make people feel hopeless, the time I have to write this blog post is quite finite. I'll therefore get to some of the reasons as to why I disagree with Michelle Obama. First and foremost is the obvious conclusion that you only continue to hope for that which you've yet to obtain. Many voters hoped for positive change in 2008, only to have those hopes dashed. Then they returned to the polls in 2016 still hoping for something better. A large enough minority of voters gave us Donald Trump. See, when their hopes were thwarted, they shifted that hope to the other major party. Then the Clinton supporters hoped that the electoral college would save us from Trump. That hope too was dashed to pieces. Now we're hoping for a successful revolution wherein the "heroes" would be the lucky ones if we were to lose. You see, hope is like matter in that it is never actually destroyed, but merely changes form. (Actually this is more true of hope than of mass; as, the theory and the reliability of Wikipedia have been called into question.)

If you don't recall learning about the Conservation of Mass theory, it may be that you are the victim of a hopelessly delinquent educational system or you were sending tweets to someone you were hopelessly in love with when the teacher was teaching it. But there's still hope for you; because, hope only changes form.

Another reason for disagreeing with Michelle Obama is that achievement of one's goals is more to be desired than to hope endlessly for something and never have it realized. The founding fathers gave us the right to approach government for redress of grievances and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Neither guarantees that our goals will actually be achieved. That should leave us hoping that achievement will become the focus of our next revolution. Michelle and Barack should not stop at hope, but rather promote successful achievement of our national goals.

That brings me to the final set of considerations. We must force change. Before we can do that, we must know what we are changing, what we are changing it from and what we are changing it to. I won't attempt to lay out a vision for America here and now, as that would take more than a single blog post. No worries. As it turns out, the topic of what government should do for its constituents is a vast one; but, what it succeeds at doing for its people is a very short one. Government, in spite of its other successes and failures, always serves as a target for the disgruntled citizens of a nation to blame for all long-term societal failings and as a slave to be whipped by the same lest it resolve said matters. If the U.S. Government hadn't lost the final remnant of its moral high ground (while retaining its militarism) during the Cheney administration and had it not become almost totally impotent during Obama, then it would still be logical for us to demand that the government do something good for its people. In lieu of Trump's apparent madness and the lingering possibility that the only thing he'll accomplish during his term is to make the federal government fully irrelevant both internationally and intra-nationally, it would seem that our goals need only be to remove the empty suits and dresses from Capitol and replace them with.....an actual government. (While you're in DC replacing the empty suits on the Hill with an actual government, please do the same with the empty dresses of DC Government as well.)

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