the citizen has become a pawn in a high-stakes game of political maneuvering that has morphed from the competitiveness and rhetorical give-and-take of 40-plus years ago, to something more closely resembling combat, with countless new and old deceptive strategies continually being auditioned and evaluated for their mass appeal. Elections 1952 and 2012 are rather like the difference between the classic 1980s video game, “Pac-Man,” and later concoctions such as “Grand Theft Auto.” The old classic was challenging entertainment; the new renditions incorporate intimidation and are wholly calculated to make the players (as well as any onlookers) uncomfortable.
Pick any issue of political significance—education, for example—and you will find yourself awash in a high-stress, depersonalized battle. But it will be one that you, the ordinary “player,” have virtually no chance of influencing one way or the other.
Meanwhile, the ever-expanding civil-service “machine” churns out a familiar hodgepodge of rules, regulations and controls, zealously guarding old turf, while greedily appending new offices, bureaus and directorates.
Consequently, today’s political contests bear no resemblance to the post World Wars I and II eras. Rather, there exists a calculated effort, by all sorts of demagogues, to sow dissention—to alienate, demoralize and, if possible, neutralize entire potential pools of voters, with all the negative energy such a scheme entails: coercion, ostracism, intimidation, loss of status or job, and outright censorship. In this scenario, the agenda becomes all-important; the individual recedes into expendability.
This book was initially conceived as a response to readers’ requests for help in communicating effectively with local, state and federal representatives on complex issues. Concerns like national health care, the budget, energy policy, educational standards, foreign wars and job creation all have many aspects. Unfortunately, they are awash in the nuanced language of attorneys, politicians and special interests. This makes it not only difficult for the layperson to comprehend the subject at hand, but to link it to other, tangential topics that necessarily affect discussion.
Efforts to contact representatives for a one-on-one conversation are roundly discouraged, save for exceptionally wealthy individuals—and then only because such persons might be cajoled into donating tens of thousands of dollars. Anyone not belonging to that category can expect to encounter a phalanx of screening mechanisms—receptionists, “executive” assistants, aides, and “contact me” forms on websites that require some 30-minutes’ worth of menu options and mandatory inputs aimed more at identifying new campaign contributors than ascertaining constituent viewpoints. The “comments” box is calculated to discourage the addition of explanatory remarks and, in any case, the message is reviewed by someone other than the intended recipient, and only rarely is it passed along.
Today’s political leaders are quite satisfied with this process. They are not keen on engaging in a logic-laden exchange of ideas with those they pretend to serve—that is to say, average voters. While their minions tweet, dig up dirt on opponents for ad campaigns and help political marketing firms set up irritating robo-calls, legislators themselves are busy consulting with their speechwriters and practicing brief position statements that will sound good on the stump and in televised pseudo-debates. Such debates are typically moderated by TV commentators or newscasters—most of whom are more concerned with their own celebrity than eliciting the views of office-seekers.
Recognition of this sad state of affairs led to a re-examination of this book’s purpose. In struggling to simplify concerns such as health care options, foreign policy, environmentalism and education, so that typical taxpayers could communicate knowledgeably with elected representatives and local authorities, it became increasingly apparent that the voting public is being “played.”
From Agenda Games, expected release: August 2012
From Beverly's upcoming book: Agenda Games
For many years, there have been back-and-forth warnings for and against certain foods and beverages, to the point where old-timers don’t pay much attention to them, and young parents are totally confused. Alcohol was supposed to be terrible—until some sage figured out that wine, in moderation, actually aided digestion. Meat was a killer, except that it contained protein that was difficult to get in another form. Bacon was a heart attack waiting to happen, but a certain type and amount of fat in the diet was good for you. Then the axe was laid at the foot of the cow: whole milk, much less cream, was to be avoided. Buttermilk was ripped from the grocery shelf because nothing was “fattier” than that—except how would anyone ever again make a tasty pancake or waffle? Finally, dairy sections were filled with no-fats: no-fat yogurt, sour creams, milk, puddings, etc., until one day doctors discovered that many people couldn’t digest no-fat dairy products!
Every first Lady, of course, has to have a gimmick, and Michelle Obama’s is obesity. Not satisfied with having schools teach about the major food groups and their merits (parents thought teaching something in health classes besides sex might actually be a good move), but school lunches suddenly became nightmarish events that discouraged eating altogether and led to food fights. Indeed, the food police at one school recently examined the contents of a pupil’s lunch sack and, finding a nicely wrapped turkey sandwich, compliments of mom, threw it out in disgust and exchanged it for…chicken nuggets—which, last anyone heard, contained the dreaded “f” word: f-r-i-e-d. Who knows? Maybe the food police boil them. Plain. Without salt.
Which brings up an interesting article by James A. Bacon (yes, no kidding!), written April 6, 2012, for The Washington Times. The piece was only somewhat tongue-in-cheek. He starts with the sensible question: What good has all this food-related badgering by the government done? “Americans are more overweight, more prone to diabetes and more at risk of heart disease than ever before,” he wrote.
- For the first time in American history, average citizens are worrying about being targeted by their own government—not from police looking down the barrel of a gun, but from bureaucrats sharing intelligence from a computer or illicit wiretap.
- Thanks to satellites and an Interpol-on-steroids mindset, personalized data collected on every conceivable subject can be transmitted worldwide in seconds. The only data we can’t seem to transmit is that on illegal immigration, which passes through a Swiss-cheese “fence,” protecting less than half the Southern border. Unfortunately, many of our nation’s leaders consider illegal immigration an asset to their careers, if not necessarily the inhabitants of their respective states.
- The presumption is made that people who have nothing to hide won’t mind a bit of bureaucratic overkill in the name of security. The nothing-to-hide argument implies the freedom to opt out. In practice, of course, there are repercussions for refusing. The 2007 $9.75 million lawsuit brought by law student Stephen Dunne against the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court dramatically highlighted the nature of these repercussions, just as the lawsuit against the TSA by former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura demonstrated that refusal is not an option.
- The trouble with curriculums like “conflict resolution,” which dates back to the late 1970s, is that young students failed to understand that some people don’t want their grievances resolved. When educators mentioned this at all, they labeled such people “mentally ill.” But, as the various terrorist organizations have shown us, their “sickness” is one of spirit. They have not lost their mind, they have lost their conscience. Unfortunately, the same students whose attitudes were shaped by those conflict-resolution courses in high school sit as national security and foreign policy decision-makers.
- Read more in the upcoming book: Agenda Games
The Agenda Game: Part I -
FRIDAY, 03 JUNE 2011 00:04 BEVERLY EAKMAN
Conservatives and traditionalists appear to be hopelessly outclassed when it comes to organizing and strategy. How else to explain the lack of bang for the conservative buck, even with umpteen nonprofits, volunteer groups and lobbying organizations devoted to promoting a traditional approach to social issues? Inboxes overflow with “urgent” admonitions to contact members of Congress over one issue after another: the Defense of Marriage Act, gays in the military, women on submarines, pro-homosexual curricula. This past May, it was the politically-correct censorship of six year-olds (“Candy Cane Case”) and transgendered classrooms.
The very concept of marriage now appears to be in trouble—a cornerstone of the pro-family, conservative movement—even as celebrities brag on and on about conceiving out of wedlock. Focus on the Family President Jim Daly, in an interview just published in WORLD magazine, allowed that pro-family leaders probably are losing the battle for traditional marriage among younger generations of Americans, “as casual ‘hookups’ continue to replace the romance of dating”. A combination of factors has contributed to this result: teen magazine articles; hypersexual advertising; and age-inappropriate, graphic sex education. The one in four girls reported to have had a sexually transmitted disease (STD) in 2008 hasn’t changed much from year to year—a little more among some demographics one year, a little less in others.
Any way you look at it, promiscuity is pervasive, and risky sexual behaviors increasingly are expected and normalized, despite the emotional and physical toll on girls, in particular.
Then, there are ongoing issues like crime, low academic performance, loss of personal privacy, the practice of sending naughty and/or “slow” children to psychiatrists for therapy and drugs, human trafficking and dozens more that have seen little or no gain for traditionalists since heaven-knows-when.
Even when we win one, it’s soon back to Square One. For example, the organization MassResistance gleefully reported May 23, that Kevin Jennings will be leaving his post as the U.S. Department of Education’s “Safe Schools Czar” this coming July. Jennings has been the driving force behind pro-homosexual curricula and “tolerance,” as well as founder of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Educational Network (GLSEN), which has so much money invested in getting its message out that it even managed to register-trademark (®) its own slogan. Jennings is credited with helping to introduce Bill 4530 in Congress that would require normalization of homosexuality, transgenderism, cross-dressing, etc., in America’s public schools. (Two copycat “transgender” bills at the state level are already taking a toll in California schools; AB 433 and SB 48 are poised to be passed by the California Legislature, but at least one elementary school in Oakland is already indoctrinating kids starting in kindergarten about “gender diversity.”)
No sooner had Jennings announced he was exiting as Safe Schools “czar,” than he was slated to head up an outfit called Be the Change, described by MassResistance as “a turbo-charged community-organizing organization founded by well-known Massachusetts liberal activist Alan Khazei,” who is poised to run for U.S. Senate against a Republican. Khazei, a fellow whom most conservatives never heard of, founded City Year in 1998 as a program for organizing youth, in the spirit of Hitler’s Youth and the communists’ Comintern and Young Pioneers, his goal being to “put their idealism to work” through “community transformation.” (This is the type of “community activism” Barack Obama cut his teeth on in Chicago.) The organization now has 22 offices across the US, and also in places as far removed as London and South Africa, given its slew of high-profile corporate sponsors. Jennings’ new role will not only give him access to Khazei’s fortune and influence, although he may have had it all along, but he will now be poised to include adults and take City Year to even greater heights once he takes the reigns of Be the Change.
With the 2012 election less than a year and a half away, conservatives are asking why things like this keep happening. Why, they wonder, can’t conservatives slam the lid shut whenever a new radical activist-turned-“expert” comes out of the woodwork?
They are finding that, just as housing prices are all about location, location, location, success in politics is all about strategy, strategy, strategy. Conservatives keep trying to recycle the same strategies—and sometimes even the same candidates—year after year. That is one factor in the rise of the Tea Party: the feeling that it’s time for some new blood.
It’s not that conservative ideals are blown off by the public—in fact, most Americans, when push comes to shove, actually identify more with the traditional social mores than not. Polls show that most people value their privacy; they don’t want to be snooped on. They zealously guard what they see as personal property. They expect schools to turn out knowledgeable kids and to instill discipline, not just kids who will be “team players.” They still admire the traditional white wedding, and they’re a bit squeamish about sharing bathroom and sleeping quarters with homosexuals.
So, what exactly is the problem?
It’s the hostile political environment. By the mid-1980s, even with the Reagan Revolution in full gear, the Marxists and anarchists of the 1960s had been trained to carry the day. They became the wealthy, the focused, the movers and shakers. They knew exactly how, and where, to invest their money (media, media, media) and learned to push conservatives’ hot buttons over and over so that traditionalists were left flailing about, hopelessly divided, at each other’s throats, disorganized and angry.
For 35 years, the left has used “the dog-bone strategy.” It tosses one outrageous issue after another to conservatives, and the conservatives always bite. Today, “medicinal” marijuana, tomorrow government bail-outs, the next day gay pride, and the day after that universal government health care. Pretty soon conservatives are left sputtering, grasping at straws, desperately latching on to something they hope will be the issue that carries them to victory—Medicare, school “standards,” energy shortages, taxes. They rarely have time to think anything through, so as to have something substantial to bring to the public table. Just about the time they do get a proposal together, they get kicked into another outrageous “crisis” that must be addressed—right now!
Every month, conservatives must seize a new crisis—climate change, the deficit, sex scandals—launching yet another pitiful exhibition of outrage, while the left-wing laughs all the way to …well, the presidency.
Many conservatives now realize they need to change the dynamics of this game. They know they must take the debate—and the agenda—away from the Left and devise a means of getting the leftist-liberal-anarchist cabal to debate on conservative turf. To do that, conservatives must first figure out where the conservative turf is.
That topic will be taken up in Part II in this series.