Tag Archives: power

Men of goodwill, step aside

Men. This is not our century. We’ve had a nice run, but in truth, we Effed it up fairly spectacularly. Today is the day we admit it’s time for a new perspective. Today is the day, finally, the phrase “the most powerful woman in the world” becomes impactful. Because a whole massive crowd of millions will vote for Hillary Clinton to become the nation’s next president. Simply put, #imwithher. And all men, everywhere, you really should take a hard look at doing the same.

Men, we’ve taken the greatest government ever established and profoundly abused it. Our Supreme Court is held hostage and our Federal courts have been mired with unfilled vacancies. Our Congress no longer cares about reasonable checks and balances, but instead panders to voter extremes with obstructionist, ill-tempered partisan battles. Yes, there are some women legislators at this point, but the government institution and party power brokers are almost all men. And frankly, they are awful. They have crushed the meaning of an informed, effective Republic.

This inevitable transfer of power should have been much easier. With the Republican Party offering up Donald Trump, a poster child of BMS–Broken Male Syndrome–any woman candidate should have won this in a landslide reminiscent of the Walter Mondale’s 49-state defeat. But two factors made this election less than the laughing stock it should be: 1) Hillary Clinton is a badly flawed candidate, and 2) The riotous anger of politically impotent men has risen to new levels of rage and voter insanity.

To be clear, a big reason Clinton is flawed is also what makes her arguably the most qualified candidate for President of the United States since Thomas Jefferson. She has a lifelong track record of service. She also has a lifelong track record of political machinations, which is the one thing an excellent man and strong President, Barack Obama, lacked. This is precisely why another Clinton scares the living stuffing out of the angry old white men of the GOP.  They have tested her mettle time and again and she has frankly, kicked their mother-loving asses.

But that success and lifetime of gamesmanship also helped create a powerful person who thinks she’s above the norms. Clinton suffers from hubris, which has often distorted her decision-making (hence, the email/server idiocy while Secretary of State despite plans for a presidential run). She’s anything but stupid, but she does stupid things because of arrogance. She has earned much of the distrust of the moderate voters who she needs most.

Clinton’s pivot toward the progressives is also fraudulent. She is an “incremental leader,” as California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom explained and will never go out on the leftist limb. To try to say she’s the right person for Bernie Sanders voters is a joke. They will work together in an awkward truce, but the progressives will never be hers, not should she pretend otherwise.

But these flaws aren’t the most significant reason Hillary Clinton’s candidacy will go on record as one of the most ineffective ever by a winning candidate. The real juice behind the distrust and vitriol is reason number 2: angry white guys and the frothing hate of the hardline right.

Blind with hatred for Hillary, the Right has tossed an ocean liner full of cowshit spin at her since the day she set her sights on the White House. Nobody could withstand such mind-searing attacks, especially since the vast majority are profoundly divorced from reality. This election season is where the ugly seed of the  2004 Swift Boat Veterans of Truth sprouted into an invasive crop of horror that we may never fully uproot. Truth matters nothing anymore. Hate Trumps All. Which is why the candidacy of Donald Trump exists.

But let’s not be fooled that Hillary alone earned this hate. Her husband was profoundly hated, spawning a new age of partisanship that has dominated governance, despite leading us in a time of economic growth and prosperity. President Barak Obama will likely go down as 1) one of the greatest presidents of all time, 2) one of the most beloved presidents of all time, and 3) one of the most hated presidents of all time despite saving us from the Great Recession and 10 percent unemployment.

The angry white men of the GOP can’t just oppose a candidate, they have to hate her.

Under the rule of men in the last three decades, elections and government somehow descended from a peaceful transfer of power to a civil war of hate and obstructionism. A government built on checks and balances and compromise has become a government built of fear, attacks and destruction.

This, my fellow men, is what our legacy will remember most about the end of our rule. Today, we go kicking and screaming off the pedestal of power, taking with us our cartoon candidate Donald Trump, who embodied the worst of everything we came to represent. We broke our government. We broke ourselves in the process.

So men, hate to break it to us, but we’re fired.  Thank goodness so.

Doubt vs. hope: the power of words

I’ve often heard people talk about the power of hope. I’ve rarely heard people talk about the power of doubt. Yet, I suspect they are equal forces, both capable of far-reaching consequences in our life.

If that’s true, then the first choice we make, time and time again, probably has far more to do with the outcome than any of the other choices that follow.

Perhaps it’s easier to think about doubt and hope more simply. Imagine you come to Interstate 5. Turn one way and without a care in the world you can drive all the way to Canada.  Turn the other way and it’s margaritas and sun soon enough.

But if someone gives you directions that start with “Go south on I-5” and instead you go north on I-5, well, you’re screwed. Every single direction from there on out is wrong, no matter how right it may seem at the time. The only way to course correct is to turn around, go all the way back and start over.

It’s the same with doubt and hope. Through each day in decisions large and small, we are given directions that start with go north or go south. Head to hope or wallow in doubt. From then on, the rest of the thing is sort of decided. If you go the way of doubt, the result will inevitably far different than the way of hope.

I suspect if given as a question on quiz–something like this: Which would you prefer, doubt or hope?– most of us would write down hope. But life isn’t much interested in our written answers. It’s what the choice we make with our actions that counts. I’m no scientist, but I suspect far more choose doubt. The result show. A lot of people lost wandering around the desolated parts of “I-5,” nowhere near their intended destination.

One of my favorite quotes is from a psychologist named Rollo May. He said, “Man is the strangest of all animals. He is the only one who runs faster after he has lost his way.”

We don’t only choose doubt, we floor it and race to it with abandon.

I started this by saying I don’t hear people much talk about the power of doubt. I do hear them talking about its crippling nature, however, which suggests a fierce, debilitating type of power whether we acknowledge it or not.

This is a more common theme. Doubt is not just powerful, it’s ruinous. Perhaps you’ve seen the glorious musical Les Miserables? When the ramrod legalists Javert is confronted with grace and love, he is not only void of hope, he becomes crippled with doubt. He sings out to the unyielding strength of the stars to course correct. In the end, the newfound doubt is too crippling. He leaps off a bridge to his demise.

This begs the question: If doubt is so devastating, why do we do it so much? Why do we, in fact, choose it over hope. We take that first wrong turn down I-5 knowing where it will lead.

Now that’s the strangest of all animals.

Choose hope. It takes a conscious choice. It takes action and then determination to stay the course even when the rest seems odd and unknown. Hopefulness requires a bit of tenacity and endurance, but life is like  a riptide, pulling us ever back toward doubt.

But here’s the real sneaky part of this whole thing, the detour on the otherwise clear highway. When we choose hope, where do we place it? Nothing cripples so much as hope misplaced, turning to doubt, challenging all we once believed in. Return again to the case of Javert. It wasn’t a loss of hope that killed him, but a lack of grace. He couldn’t accept it.

Grace may just be the thing that fuels our hope in a way that is headed truly in the right direction.

When such doubt creeps in, I’m reminded of a movie of that name, called simply Doubt, that starred the late, great Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Merryl Streep. Streep, of course, is an actor without peer, as something like 18 Oscar nominations can attest. But the very last scene of Doubt, where her Javert-like personality cripples before our eyes under the weight of doubt.

Crying she says, “I have doubts. I have such doubts.”

Her hope was built on the wrong convictions, the wrong person and the wrong way she had chosen many, many years before. She too was impoverished of grace. When doubt arrived, it met no resistance.

We are called not just to hope, but to place our hope on that which is resolute and deserving of that faith.

Where does your hope come from? That may be the most important question of all.