Fixing America In 500 Words Or Less

Chapter 45


       It is much easier to criticize political leaders than to truly have a better idea. Regardless of political party or agenda, what would you do if you were in charge, to help regain public confidence in our long since vanished, dream of a democratic process?

       Since a political leader should know what he or she is talking about without referring to notes, would you announce there will be no teleprompter allowed when you make speeches and hold press conferences?  Would you declare every speech you give will be drafted by you personally?

       Would you take questions from press conference reporters impartially by drawing numbers from a hat, regardless of how recognizable their name is or what media they represent?

       Would you hold publicly televised townhall events monthly in different cities, where ten members of the public with no press or organizational credentials, were selected by lot and allowed to ask direct unscreened questions?  Would you answer them while the cameras roll without cue cards and if necessary, conduct research and include anything not answered at the next event?

       Would you clearly detail your current agenda for the nation at these townhall meetings, demonstrating that regardless of political fallout, there will be no secrecy, vagueness or uncertainty about the specific goals of your administration? ¹

       Would you cancel White House social events, annual Christmas and New Year festivities, elite “black-tie” gatherings and similar, until every American willing and able to work has a job that pays enough to afford basic necessities? Would you promise you and your staff won't eat better food on the taxpayer's dime than average working-class families can afford?  Would you forbid your staff to fly on corporate jets and indulge in dinners, events and vacations paid for by someone else? ²

       Although you could not control what members of Congress chose to do, would you put public pressure on all congressional leaders to set the same standards for themselves and their staff?

       Would you prevent all lobbyists from being allowed access to either you or your staff, other than those representing individual taxpayers with specific individual needs not related to corporate interests?  Would you especially put intense and unrelenting public pressure on all Congressional leaders to do the same? ³

       Would you require members of your cabinet to hold at least two scholarly degrees in their area of expertise, while insuring none of them are former lobbyists or, a member or former member of any financial institution?

       To remain impartial, would you refuse to appear on media programs primarily devoted to politics and rather if invited, appear on popular shows like Oprah, Leno and Letterman, where you could freely communicate to the American people your concerns and goals, without being rudely interrupted by talking-point pundits with a private agenda not in the best interests of our nation?

       Would you insist that neither you nor any member of your staff earn a wage higher than the median American wage?

       If you were in charge, what would you do?  You decide.


1. There are at least two primary reasons why the Democrats have not achieved any type of meaningful health care reform including both a strong public option and several other key components necessary to legitimately reform our nation's current catastrophic health industry disaster:  1) President Obama failed to come out swinging strongly for a single-payer option, which probably would not have been achieved but nevertheless, doing so would have focused the media debate way left of where it landed and thus, forced moderate Democrats and Republicans to go along with a strong public option, which could and should have been introduced far later in the game.  It would likely then have been perceived by a large middle-of-the-road cross-section of American citizens and the media as being a fair, legitimate compromise.  Instead, Obama "compromised" right out the gate, eliminating a single-payer plan in favor of a public option and thus, he gave away the farm before planting any seeds of rationality and reason in the public perception eye.  2) Obama failed to personally publicly offer a legitimate detailed plan, allowing the media and opposition party to fill in the blanks as they so chose and thus, they seized on a golden opportunity to support the best interests of their health industry advertising and campaign bribery dollars, accordingly.

2. FDR essentially inaugurated a "national period of mourning" upon taking office during the Depression, scaling back much of the fluff and finery normally associated with the office and refusing to take vacations even when his health very much demanded it.  This is the very least that both Bush Junior and President Obama, who do not have polio and thus do not desperately need warm spring baths, could and should have done in order to demonstrate to the American public that their expressed sympathies towards the jobless and homeless are sincere and, not merely empty words of political rhetoric.

3. There is a reason why it is called the "presidential bully pulpit".  Franklin and especially Theodore Roosevelt knew how to correctly use it towards getting their agenda rammed through a highly reluctant opposing majority in Congress.  Whereas even though his party held a commanding majority in both chambers when he took office, President Obama still doesn't seem to have a clue how to "bully" Congress into richly well-deserved public humiliation and shame.  Which when done correctly, is soon followed by meek congressional submission with corporate wagging tail tucked between lobbyist-propelled legs, to save their own hyporcritical lapdog political asses from the wrath of the voters.  In spite of all of the criticism leveled against him, Junior Bush managed to get far more of his agenda passed than President Obama has managed to do.

It may be fair to say that if Obama was president when Theodore Roosevelt was in office:  A) Our national parks today would look very much like certain areas of Appalachia do since previous administrations allowed them to be "de-mountained" and "clear-gutted" into oblivion (which continues under Obama's watch).  B) Corporations would hold even a worse monopoly grip over American consumers than they currently do, still deliberately methodically marketing bad meat and bogus medicines without fear of inspection, penalty or public knowledge.  C) Workers wages, safety regulations, working hours, benefits and unionizing capabilities would resemble the Dark Ages mass peasantry and serfdom goal of the neo-cons. And D) The U.S. Navy would look like the few bathtub toys it did prior to Roosevelt demanding that Congress spend the modern equivalent of hundreds of billions of dollars to re-build it from being among the worst to the strongest naval presence on the globe.  One does not need to applaud Roosevelt's war mongering ways to understand that the "presidential bully pulpit", when applied correctly and forcefully, can move mountains or, as in the case of Appalachia, shame congressional corporate pawns who ignore mountain-top removal into political oblivion.

4. One of the long-standing worst things wrong with how the United States government, is run is the long-standing incredibly ignorant practice of appointing corporation pawns, friends, relatives, political cronies and otherwise, some of the most incompetant, crooked and morally bankrupt members of our society, to head important departments of state and act as presidential advisors; rather than appointing qualified people who are expert in their particular field and, remain unfettered by corporate ties.  All one needs to do is take a quick historical look at the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant or browse through a few pages of "The Gilded Age" by Mark Twain to understand why.

5. National political leaders should always be willing to take the JFK "high-road" approach of donating their salary to charity or else, working for minimum wage.  The median wage is suggested here only because of the hard-headedness of those pretending to be "representatives" with our best interests at heart.  It is understandable that a freshman or a few other congressional leaders may need an income substantial enough to feed their families, but the majority of Congressional leaders are millionaires many times over and as such, those accepting wages and especially health care benefits from the public trough when not truly needing them, while millions of American citizens lack jobs, health care and the ability to pay for basic food and shelter, belong in federal prison rather than being allowed to continue to pose as representatives of we the people.

6. And finally, as of this writing President Obama having recently debated Republicans face-to-face on camera, seems to be learning from his mistakes and as such, he may yet be able to pull a few magic rabbits out of his battered political hat.  We can only hope that he continues to lean more towards the Roosevelts, rather than appearing like Bush Junior made over in finer costume and more adeptness of fancy phrase.

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Copyright © August 20th, 2003 by Richard Aberdeen.
Copyright © Jaunary 7th, 2014 by Richard Aberdeen.
Copyright © February 1st, 2014 by Freedom Tracks Records.

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