Tag Archives: principles

Filtering Politics Through a Golden Rule Lens

My path as a political futurist action-suspense writer would be far easier if I could tell you my tribe. If I could easily and consistently use words to describe myself like progressive, conservative, libertarian or socialist, I could quickly target my audience. If I could tell you I’m clearly aligned with the Republican, Democratic, Tea, Libertarian or Green parties, you would readily know what to expect of my views.

It would be easier.

But it wouldn’t be true.

Even if I did fix my political position today, that identification will likely shift as definitions and platforms change for political terms and parties, respectively. I may also simply change my mind on certain issues as I learn and think more, perhaps with your help.

Two core concepts that don’t consistently align with an entrenched philosophy or political party are foundational to my views:

  • My all-encompassing philosophy is the Golden Rule concept of “doing unto others as I would have done unto myself” and it’s negative form of “not doing to others what I would not want done to me.” Following the Golden Rule requires that I understand others, consider all impacted by any decision and imagine what I would want done if I were in similar circumstances. It also means thinking through long-term implications to eliminate my cognitive biases rather than rely on my immediate emotional response as a definitive answer.
  • The simpler of my core concepts is driving peaceful national longevity.  Governmental dissolutions can be peaceful, as one might expect if Scotland secedes from Great Britain. However, secession efforts frequently turn violent as we see today in Ukraine. Disorder and chaos create vacuums often filled with violent conflict. Conflict always finds innocent victims. There’s no opportunity to make amends to dead innocents.

The Golden Rule is embedded in the scriptures and teachings of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Confucianism, Jainism, Taoism, Baha’i, native spiritualities, and many other faiths. The Golden Rule also happens to be endorsed by most secular humanists and atheists/agnostics as a core life principal. In fact, it’s a unifying principle across nearly all of humanity but one many think of as confined to governing personal behavior. Unfortunately, it is not embedded in the governing document for the United States. It is not required to be considered in developing our laws, regulations and enforcement.

Once we agree that we should treat each other fairly doesn’t mean we will always agree on what that means. After all, we each start with an individual experience and knowledge base. Seeing past our biases takes study, debate and an open mind. The Golden Rule, though, at least gives us a common objective to work toward and against which to ask questions without demonizing those beginning from a different answer.

After a month-long break from posting here, I’ll take a stab this week at testing my Golden Rule-based philosophy against several of the issues I expect to dominate media attention during the 2014 mid-term elections: political reform, income inequality, climate change and immigration. I won’t pretend my views are the definitive answer, only that they make sense given what I know.

Readers who define themselves along traditional partisan lines almost certainly won’t agree with everything I write. Hopefully, though, I’ll raise concepts you hadn’t considered, offer solutions not generally debated and otherwise leave you feeling that reading these perspectives is a good use of time.

My personal and author branding would be easier if I could pick a well-defined track that others have cleared in advance and just ride the rails to an audience. But I haven’t found a path that I can stay on without believing I’ve taken a wrong turn.

I’ll be interested in your reactions.

Race, Gays, Gender and Segregation

Fifty years after Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech came to describe a nation that might someday no longer face torment from racial segregation, identifying the appropriate government role in facilitating equality remains subject to intense, ongoing debate.

It isn’t always easy to discern which political issues are truly about establishing equal rights versus increasingly common efforts to use equality as a cloak for old-fashioned political payoffs that confer advantages on a favored voting bloc.

Skin color, gender and sexual orientation don't change how the Garden of the Gods appears. Our laws should follow suit.
Skin color, gender and sexual orientation don’t change how the Garden of the Gods appears. Our laws should follow suit.

I’ve been giving these subjects a great deal of thought and study as I work on the third book in the “Melting Point” series, “Doing Unto Others,” because it suggests our policies need to be developed around the concept of “doing unto others as we would have done unto ourselves.” This concept was spoken by Muhammad, is written in the Bible’s Book of Matthew, was taught by Rabbi Hillel and is contained in the teachings of Confucius as well as in Buddhist and Hindu scriptures.

The “Golden Rule,” as it is often called, is a core unifying concept in mankind, yet is frequently ignored in governing the United States and other nations, with the Congressional and IRS exemptions from Obamacare just the latest affront to the concept that government shouldn’t do to its people what it is unwilling to live itself.

To determine which rights should be pursued because they are truly about establishing equal opportunities, I suggest that a simple question leads to the answer: “Does the imposition of equal treatment harm others in a manner they cannot mitigate?”

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Border Security, Immigration Reform and Dennis Michael Lynch

Unless border security issues are resolved, Senate passage could prove the permanent plateau for immigration reform efforts in the 113th Congress. More importantly, if border security is not substantially improved from a current state in which even immigration reform advocates believe at least 11 million undocumented workers are inside U.S. borders and many believe the number is much higher, America faces a largely unconsidered threat to its existence in today’s shape and form. (This challenge serves as the premise to my novels.)

With border security so critical to a much-needed immigration reform process, I spent last night listening to Dennis Michael Lynch, a filmmaker who has invested his own time and money investigating border security and immigration issues far more deeply than 60-second puff pieces typically spewed as investigative reporting on border security. A link to the web site for “They Come to America” and “They Come to America II” is below. I recommend these films for anyone interested in immigration and border security issues. If you haven’t considered why the U.S. government has signs posted in Mandarin Chinese along human trafficking routes from Mexico, you’ll be certain to consider new questions after watching the movies.

Border Patrol in Texas from theycometoamerica.com
Border Patrol in Texas from theycometoamerica.com

They Come to America

I was hopeful at the start of the year that real immigration reform could move forward, even though such reform might temporarily and partially negate the premise for my books. The principles by the Senate Gang of Eight included a path to citizenship for those here illegally that would be “contingent upon our success in securing our borders and addressing visa overstays.”

When recently resigned Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said repeatedly in recent months that the border is already secure, she uttered an absurdity that made clear this Administration could not be trusted to use fact to assess or pursue border security. If you watch Lynch’s films, you’ll have no doubt the notion that we have secure borders is beyond reasonable belief.

Recently, congressional debate has centered around who can be trusted to accurately assess whether our borders are secure before triggering the path to citizenship for those who entered or overstayed illegally in the past. Without secure borders, passage of an immigration reform bill now would just be another “rinse” in a series of “rinse and repeat” processes on immigration that date back to President Reagan. Continue reading

Are We Really All Just Too Stupid?

Those who try to restrict basic freedoms do so on the basis that people sub-optimize outcomes through dysfunctional decision-making, even when the costs of a poor decision are entirely ours to absorb. To some, this dysfunction is so bad that we can’t be trusted to determine the size of our own soft drink without government control. If we can’t be trusted to consider the long-term impacts of beverage consumption, shouldn’t we question whether Americans are intelligent enough to be allowed to vote? After all, voting should require far more detailed analysis than does selecting between Coca Cola or water. The linked article raises other concerns worth considering about nanny state advocates. As government usurps more and more of our lives, it’s important to consider at what point does the arrogance of the bureaucratic “experts” end?

Zero Calories to Zero Population.

 

Broken Politics, Bipartisan Failure

News that a bipartisan U.S. Senate group has agreed on immigration reform principles gives hope to the idea that problem solving in Washington could push partisanship to a temporary political pasture.

Our deeply flawed political process will turn any such grazing grasses bitter soon enough, though, even if an agreement is reached and a significant issue is temporarily addressed.

Four political system flaws are the biggest impediments to solution-oriented government:

  • Segregation
  • Primaries
  • Money, and
  • Bureaucracy

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Immigration Reform Deal is Progress, Not Panacea

There is a great deal to like in the proposed bipartisan immigration compromise put together by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and others.

I’ve often worried that principles are generally the last consideration in the political process. With this agreement, the eight senators started with principles. That alone is commendable.

Our political system flaws – where party leaders seek divisions to exploit instead of problems to solve – means that these principles are unlikely to be fully followed in the coming decades even if enacted. Still, even with my skepticism, I’m heartened that the agreement matches five critical principles I think are important to national longevity:

1)   All men and women are created equal in our rights to pursue success.

2)   People who follow the law should have a better chance of succeeding than those who break it.

3)   An integrating society speaking a common language is more likely to survive over the centuries than a segregating society speaking separate languages.

4)   We need to attract bright, hard-working, tax-paying immigrants to grow our economy and meet our social program promises.

5)   While it would be nice to have principle #1 applied to all seven billion people on the planet, our national survival and prosperity means we can only model this behavior with our citizens and legal immigrants.

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