This morning, my cat and I were watching Fareed Zakaria’s show, GPS (Global Public Square) on CNN; yes – I still watch CNN, and really try and watch Mr. Zakaria’s show whenever possible. Today he had on two former Secretaries of State, General Colin Powell and Madeline Albright. It was a fantastic interview. The interview was a fantastic back and forth, between the three of them. Mr. Powell and Ms. Albright are good friends, although one is a republican, and the other a democrat (see, it is possible to coexist!!). It was fun to watch an interview where all members respected one another, no cheap shots, only well thought out discussion. They discussed many things; but a couple of them I’d like to highlight here along with my comments.
- The press: They discussed the way this administration singles out the media an “the enemy.” I agree with them that this is dangerous talk, the problem is that this type of talk comes from both sides of the isle, not just one side. It has become increasingly common for colleges and universities to deny controversial figures a soap box to express their views. Recently, the focus has been on right leaning figures, Mr. Bannon comes to mind. In his piece written on September 13, 2018; Mr. Zakaria explores why this is happening and also reminds the left. In 1974, Mr. William Shockley (Nobel prize winning scientist) was invited to debate Mr. Roy Innis (US leader of the Congress of Racial Equality) at Yale University. The debate didn’t happen because of public opinion. Yale commissioned a report on free speech, and this report remains the landmark declaration of the duty of universities to encourage debate and dissent. I invite you to read “Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression at Yale.”
- Hate: “There is no room in this country for hate, we are a country of LOVE.” – Colin Powell. The devise rhetoric, not only from this administration, but from the growing number of quasi militant (racist) groups is concerning. As Mr. Powell points out, America has been the shining city on the hill, for quite awhile, and we, as a nation (and a people) need to get back to leading the world via our moral standards. And in doing so, we also need to appreciate that not all countries see the world with the same moral obligations as we do. Mr. Powell recited his three favorite words of our Constitution: “We the People….” We are one country, one people, with a wonderful diversity and wide range of life experiences; but one thing we should all have in common – we, you and I, are the government. We vote for representation that we feel most closely represents our views, sometimes our candidate wins, sometimes they don’t; but the country goes on, and we, having performed our civic duty to participate in electing our government representatives, need to move forward also and work as best we can within the constraints of the government. This is not to say we should all fall in line like a bunch of high school cheerleaders shouting “Rah..Rah…Rah..”, there is room for civil discourse, the key word there being civil. Mr. Powell also stated that the president’s habit of insulting people does not help things. He went on to say “…I don’t think that’s what should be coming out of a president of the United States.”
- Foreign Policy: I think Mr. Zakaria’s article does a better job of documenting the exchange on foreign policy than I can give, but in short, it is always good to engage in diplomacy whenever possible. Mr. Powell goes on to explain that there is too much focus on “adversarial relations as opposed to diplomatic relations.” I found this interesting, and wholeheartedly agree. It is always a good idea to find common ground, tell them where we stand, where we see their stance, and that provides a starting ground to talk and solve problems. Mr. Powell went on to say, “Let’s finds ways to talk and engage, recognizing that not everybody is like the United States.”
So, what does this have to do with reality TV? Well, it seems our political leadership, of both parties, have taken the low road, and have stooped to reality show, short term showmanship. Whether it be via a twitter account, or showboating during the Supreme Court hearing. Our political leaders are more concerned with themselves and “the party” than with the forward progression of this country. Only taking the short term view, will have major implications for our country moving forward. Our democracy hinges on checks and balances, and the current trend of political divisiveness is infecting all areas of our government. And this is something every citizen, i.e. “We the People” need to be concerned about. I encourage you to vote out members who refuse to work with people of dissenting views. I encourage you to vote your conscience, not your party affiliation, I encourage you to do your duty as a citizen, and not blindly follow a political philosophy, but understand it’s roots, what the core values of your philosophy are. You may not agree with every single aspect, and that’s OK. If your party runs a candidate you do not like, vote for someone else! There are more than two political parties in this country, and the sooner the citizenry actually THINKS about who they are voting for, vice doing what their party tells them to do, the better our country will be. I implore each of you to think before you vote.
I enjoy listening to Mr. Powell. Mr. Powell is one of those folks who I have a world of respect for, and when he talks, I listen a bit more attentively. What say you? Am I off course here, or do you agree? I look forward to your thoughts.