Once upon a time, there was a great nation that a brave President called “The shining city on a hill.” That leader feared no one. He knew he had a political party and a nation that was courageous and principled.
He stood up against an Evil Empire bent on destroying our way of life. His adversaries were powerful, dangerous, and determined. That did not daunt this great leader. He looked them in the eye, unafraid. Like his predecessors, he was willing to make any sacrifice to protect our homeland and stood resolved to defeat those who are against freedom and our way of life.
I worked for this great man. Many of his domestic policies I did not embrace, but his foreign policy and trade policy was second to none. He destroyed a strong enemy without a shot fired, and without compromising American might.
How things have changed.
The great political party of Ronald Reagan is unrecognizable today. I am now their opponent. Not that long ago, I was their ardent supporter who worked to create conservative solutions to the nation’s problems.
There are those who believe the words conservative, and solution, used in the same sentence is an oxymoron. After 1988, I would have to surrender the point. George H.W. Bush was the last of the GOP problem solvers. The party has been taken over by frightened people who appear to have no empathy. Are they afraid to feel?
Our strengths are often also our weaknesses
I went to Business School. In the curriculum, the human factors of business were stripped out. From my first course to the capstone course as a Senior that brought all the elements into play, the constant message hammered into our head is: “The role of the corporation is to maximize the wealth of the common stockholder, and serves no other function.”
We learned how to make hard decisions, and to be strong managers. This strength in making hard choices needs toning down.
In business school, workers are marginalized and dehumanized as labor being nothing more than an entry on the income statement. We learned to be skilled manipulators of financial statements to fulfill our mission to the stockholders. After all, it is their money and their company.
It is true that the role of the corporation is to maximize the wealth of the common stockholder. It is also true that labor is an entry on the income statement. There are two untruths in the business narrative.
Untruth number one is the corporation has no social responsibility. This flaw in the business school education is particularly poignant today as corporations now enjoy legal citizenship courtesy of the Supreme Court.
The second great half-truth is that labor is merely an entry on financial statements. These are our fellow countrymen and women. They are our relatives and townfolks who have hopes, dreams, aspirations and need to feed their families. Yes, sometimes the enterprise must make the hard decision. My grave concern is too often we pull that trigger first. It should be a last resort.
The Government makes hard decisions too. I have written polity recommendations, and successfully lobbied authorizations to use force that have resulted in people dying. I could not think about that, or I would not have been able to advocate the position. I fell back on my business school training of putting emotions aside to achieve a goal.
Governing for The Common Good
The message of the GOP is that “empathy and compassion are fine ideals should be practiced individually, but have no place in Governing.” That is a half-truth too. Sometimes Government does have to make hard decisions. However, government exists for “the common good” of our citizens.
The common good is an idea that is centuries old. The GOP has forgotten the purpose of the common good. I say that not just as a Democrat and a member of the opposition, but as a former insider in the GOP for nearly four decades.
The reason they reject the idea of the common good is partly that the GOP thinks a lot about me, rather than we. They are a confederation of individualists who are looking out for themselves first and foremost.
From having been inside the GOP at high levels for decades, I saw the fear of feeling that Republican men and women experience. They fear that to feel empathy is to be weak.
They are carrying the lessons of business school that help corporations to thrive, into the Government where it does not belong. They have become hardened to human suffering unless it affects them directly.
Extreme individualism opens the door to fear mongers.
That fascination with self has opened the door to fear-mongers. Here are just a few of the themes the GOP uses to frighten a once courageous party.
The evil foreigners are going to come and take your property, rape and kill, and overrun America. That is a common theme. Statistics do not bear out Trump’s claims, and isolated cases are subjects for the bully pulpit to paint all immigrants with the same brush.
All Muslims are an evil to be feared, potential terrorist, and want to force sharia law in a take over of America, is another staple of today’s GOP.
Foreigners coming across our southern border are MS-13 and are responsible for a lot of crime, and drugs. This view of Trump’s and his base may be the biggest lie of all. Statistics do not bear out that many of those coming across the border are criminals, nor are they stealing jobs Americans are willing to do.
Even less coming to America via the southern border are members of the notorious Los Angeles street gang MS-13, which is a domestic crime organization that the USA is exporting. MS-13 has a national organization in America, and the Trump Administration is doing little to shut them down.
I apologize for the length of this article. I started the column with a story about the courageous in the GOP. I am sorry I have to end the article speaking about the frightened and small minded people that are today’s GOP.
I am glad Ronald Reagan is not alive to see the party today. I know what he would be doing. Reagan would be tossing the likes of Donald Trump and his minions out of the party. He did not admire cowards. The Trump crowd have forgotten, if they ever knew, that being an American requires courage.
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