Pivoting to the General Election

 

 

Pivot noun  piv·ot \ˈpi-vət\

: a pin or shaft on which a mechanical part turns

: the action of turning around a point: the action of pivoting

: a person or thing that is central or important to someone or something else

Source: Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary

 

The primary process is winding down for the 2016 presidential election. Professional pundits (the people who get paid well to do what bloggers do for free) are scratching their heads about how Donald Trump just became the Republican candidate for president. Meanwhile the press corps is completely distancing themselves from responsibility of promoting the Trump campaign non-stop the past 10 months.  The media involvement is a discussion for another day. Now, is the time to discuss pivoting.

What is pivoting?

Pivoting is what candidates do to expand their message from one that is crafted specifically for the base of their political party in the language of speeches and messaging; which they then expanded to become palatable for the wider General Election audience. For example, in Donald Trump’s case his immigrant, Muslim, woman bashing sketch about building the Wall and making Mexico pay for it switches to being something more along the lines of, ah they aren’t so bad.

On the Republican side, Trump is pivoting to the General Election. The Democrats are still having a race to decide the candidate. Regardless of what you may see with the media who assume it is over. Hillary Clinton would like to believe that they are right. Hillary Clinton wants to pivot to the General Election, even though she has gone from a forgone conclusion to facing a real possibility that Bernie Sanders may be the final choice of the voters because of his authenticity. Authenticity means that there is no need to pivot because for better or worse, depending on your opinion, one thing we can agree on is that his message stays the same.

Don’t go changing.

The question I have today is why does a candidate have to pivot at all? The Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary says that to pivot in this context is when “A person or thing is central or important to someone or something else; and the action of turning around a point: the action of pivoting.” So it means to change a fundamental position to something else that is important to someone else.

Here is the problem I have with pivoting. It is true that this is a common strategy with candidates. The reason why it is common, is because candidates craft a message to please their audience, to persuade them to vote the way the candidate wants them to.  However, the candidate has a real agenda we all realize this. Many times the real agenda has nothing to do with what they tell voters during a campaign to secure votes. Most of us also realize that. These speeches that some call pandering, is considered a means to an end. When a candidate pivots, they change the message to become more likable to another more expansive audience. The problem is that voters of 2016 are no longer interested in appeasing talking points, they are looking for accountability and results. There for business as usual will be problematic for 2016 candidates up and down the ticket.

Who are they today?

The pivot is the core reason why many people do not trust politicians. I would invite political insiders to embrace the fact that the pivot is dead. Here is why. The Internet. The internet has collected all of the televised speeches. All of the speeches that attendees recorded with their cell phones. The public appearances and pretty much everything that a candidate has ever said. It is naïve at best and obtuse at worst to think that a candidate is going to be able to say one thing and then get away with saying something completely different later.

Take for example ex-candidate Ted Cruz’s “New York Values” moment.  It happened during one of the earlier Republican debates when Cruz proceeded to slam liberal New York values because we all know what that means in a crowd of uptight Evangelicals, right? His problem was when he arrived in New York and wanted to put all of that behind him like that never happened. The people of New York however, had a clearer recall of his statement, and Cruz learned that the lack of admiration was mutual, as he slunk away with 0% of the New York vote.

Be yourself.

Pivots do not work. What they do is make voters think that nothing a politician says is real. Most of the time voters are right, politicians are just saying what they think a voter wants to hear to vote for them. That is what makes it so unusual when one politician continues to say the same thing for over 40 years no matter how he thinks it will be received. He says the things he does, because he believes in it, and he believes it is the best path forward for America. It is difficult not to respect that rare brand of authenticity in today’s world; whether or not you agree with what he is saying. No pivots for Sanders, steady as she goes. I don’t respect a pivot. If a message is changing that much it is difficult to know what the truth may be.

Pivots build lack of trust, and why would anyone agree to give power to a person that they do not trust? I know this is totally out of left field but politicians need to just tell us what they want to do. Just tell us the truth. Put their policy platforms and their voting records out there to be judged and see what happens. I know insane right. But the rest is just distraction that is how it goes now that there is an internet we will find the truth out, so quit wasting time and just tell us the truth. We have busy lives here! We have a record of everything that has been said.

Granted, it is not easy for politicians today; I do not envy them at all. However, they must be forthright, they must be honest. That is the only kind of person that we can trust to hold the full force of the power and prestige that comes with being the next president of the United States of America.

What does America value?

In our society money decides how resources are distributed. Those with the most money, have the most options. Sometimes I wonder is money the most efficient way to decide who gets what? In America specifically, status is determined by income. However, it can be argued that the most noble work is done by those paid the least, maybe even nothing–volunteers. At the same time there is a lot of money pooled with those who seem to be lacking a heart of service. They hoard money in off shore accounts. The work done by some of the highest income earners does not appear to be work that is life-giving. The work does not produce anything lasting. If that is the case, we are not doing our best to effectively manage resources to meet the needs of the people who our government represents. We have lost the sense of stewardship that human kind needs to live with peace of mind and in balance with the ecosystems that we occupy.

Life is about more than profits.

The first problem with having money decide who is able to access resources, is that there are many worthwhile endeavors that are not profitable. Adding the profit aspect to health care, education, and prisons creates a business model that breaks the systems they claim to serve. The fact that they are not profitable does not mean that they are not worthwhile endeavors. It simply means that society does not want to pay for them. Many of the social services are not “fun” ways to spend money. Yet, they are vital to the general well-being of the communities that we live in. There are many things worth doing for the greater good that does not make a profit.

Bringing back the balance.

How can things be brought back to balance?

Some say charity is how to solve society’s imbalances. Yet, I am not sure that charity as we know it is the answer. The first reason why that is true is because the work that needs to be done is not always the work that people want to pay for. Some of the work that is needed by society is not considered “sexy” by funders. The process to access grants is lengthy, complex, and limited. The process is cumbersome and does not always address what is needed but instead focuses on what the charity is willing to give.

There needs to be a review of the way America does business. Stockholders versus workers. Which should be the priority? When stockholders do not see the vision of the company and are looking for a one-way street to profits not seeing the long-term vision of community and the way that the organization lives in the community it can be problematic. What then should be done to keep the fiduciary promises to stockholders while still being able to invest back into the company and community.

Our society appears to be economically driven, however the economic cycle is not free-flowing and the stagnant lack of a strong economic flow worsened by the lack of disposable income, makes solving problems on a one-on-one or community level, virtually impossible. The way we think about resources and problem-solving must change and become more egalitarian so that our society begins to reflect the best of all of us manifesting real solutions. Instead of what has been happening which is the worst of all of us manifesting our fears. I still have faith that humanity is capable of amazing things. However, to get there the focus must be on working together. That gives value to all Americans and I believe that is truly what American values is all about.MiamiHeraldValues

“Are you better off than you were four years ago?” Why that doesn’t matter in the 2012 Election.

One would be hard-pressed to find an American that did not have a difficult time the last four years. America has suffered the worst economic collapse since the 1930’s. Understandably, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and the Republicans want to hold President Obama accountable for the last four years. They are driving the point home by using an old line. It was October 28, 1980, when Ronald Regan recycled Franklin Roosevelt’s question “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” Normally, a politician can get some traction with this question. Particularly if the past four years weren’t good ones. However, this time it is not relevant and this is why. Nothing is the same now as it was four years ago, and if trends continue we may hardly recognize what comes next in the years leading to 2016.

Economic problems are structural not cyclical.

It would be one thing if the current economic problems were a cyclical bump in the road. That is not the case, what America is experiencing is growing pains from a structural change driven by automation and constantly updating technology. This is a blessing for cost control and efficiency, yet from the employment side it is a curse. What are the employment options for folks who have a lower skill level, now that there is so much competition for coveted positions left in this shrinking job pool? In addition, though it is a good thing to think in ways that create a more environmentally sustainable future, this also causes economic growing pains. For generations, families have built their lives around the coalmines or the oil fields. The choice to move away from fossil fuels is a correct one, however leaders and policy makers need to consider those who are left behind by this fundamental change in how we look at Energy Policy and how that interacts with Labor Policy. These are but a few of the many complex challenges the US Economy faces. Not only domestic pressures, perhaps even more powerful, are the tremendous changes taking place outside of US borders and therefore outside of the President’s direct influence.

The world is not the same.

The world has gone through mind-blowing changes over the past four years. The tumultuous birth of Democracy in the Middle East and North Africa by way of the Arab Spring is one example. This opens up a completely new set of complex and delicate issues to maneuver going forward. Things will not go back to the way they were before. The old answers are irrelevant. In addition, the economic situation with the European Union and its members who are reshaping the relationships they have with one another. This has little in common with the way it was even fifteen years before. The past four years were incredibly tumultuous, creating many unknowns that will need answers.  Can the European Union be successful without sharing political power in order to set consistent  Economic policy? Will the European Union survive the recent economic crisis? The solutions the EU come up with will  impact the United States although the President will have limited, if any control over what happens. Again, this is a minute glimpse of the many issues happening all over the globe. The next President will need to be capable of deftly maneuvering through the historically critical window for as long as it is open during the next four years. This could set the tone in US foreign relations for the next century.

There is no turning back.

The greatest concern about the direction the Conservatives in the Republican Party are taking is that it seems to be going backward. Hearing many Conservatives speak, one wonders if they are in some sort of time machine stuck in 1950’s perhaps in some episode of Mad Men? The warrants that the party operates on seem to be from a bygone era that is no longer true. It is just not like that anymore. The minorities are becoming the majority. Poverty is due to many complex variables not just because people aren’t trying hard enough. Things like pensions, a living wage, and the ability to own a home, which give stability to the middle-class that is the backbone of the American culture and economy. Women’s issues are not just issues for women. Equal pay, affordable early childhood education, food security, and the ability for a woman to decide when and how many children she feels capable to care for are all issues that influence the society as a whole. Thinking in the past in ways that women are not the breadwinners for their homes and other such lost in the ‘50s delusions driving policy is not relevant in 2012 and beyond. The looming possibility of multiple Supreme Court appointments happening in this term add higher stakes to the polices of the candidates. It’s  important to pay attention to those who influence each man, especially those who don’t want to fight once more the vicious fight for women’s personal rights.

Voters will decide.

The “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” question may have worked before. However, we are not in the same world that we were in four years ago. We are not in the 1950’s. America needs to choose the candidate who acknowledges these changes and is able to navigate them. It is difficult for me to be confident in the Romney campaign because the Romney/Ryan Republicans are so intent on living in the past when directing us into the future is so important.  I have much more confidence from seeing Barack Obama’s performance thus far,  that he is the best choice to lead us through the next four years successfully. My confidence about the President’s future success would certainly increase if the Republicans lose big in the local and Congressional races.

My Body, My Business

There is a lot of talk going on in political debate about contraception and  a woman and her partner’s control over reproductive planning. The responsibility and the power comes from the woman’s decision. Why? Because it is the woman that carries the baby.  The woman that goes through the birthing process. The woman which, in a high percentage of situations, is the primary care giver and therefore is the one who makes the most change to her life in order to care for her children, especially during their first five years of life. The first five years are vital developmentally.

I don’t think this debate is about religious freedom. I think the church leaders would like to think so. But if it were about religion we would have policy to eradicate poverty which is mentioned in the Bible 2,000 times. So it’s not about religion. What it is about is the high cost of insurance for women of childbearing age to which I say “Too damn bad.” I say that because the same group of folks who bash “socialist” health care want to leave women hanging by not assisting with her health care needs. Companies which basically own people. They tell them when to wake up, when to eat, when to sleep, when to go to the bathroom, when to take a vacation. So they own them. Even slave owners of the past realized that they have to provide slaves with basic health care. Didn’t these folks get the memo?  With all the money dolled out on studies for employee retention and satisfaction and none of those brainiacs can figure out that people need to have their family needs met to be productive employees? The company should get its consulting money back and apply it to the needs of its employees. And why wouldn’t they want their female employees on birth control? If they are on birth control, they are at work. The whole thing is ridiculous!

Freedom, something so essential to the core of being American. The choices about who I have sex with, when I have sex, what style of sex I choose to have, and when I choose to have a pregnancy result from that sex having is MY business. I shouldn’t have to call up my elected official and ask permission. That is the essence of personal freedom. Now keeping in mind I am talking about sex with two consenting adults. Other than that, it is up to the adults what they do with their bodies. The political right wants to run archaic bills through state houses and Congress without political consequences.  To that I say, “Too damn bad.” They need to be penalized politically for taking our country backwards. That strategy (if that’s what they are calling it) is not going to win the GOP the Independent vote in November.  Independents, like reasonable Republicans and Democrats, are watching the actions not the crazy propaganda coming out of the GOP talking-heads’ mouths. The Republicans could easily lay off the social issues and focus on the economy. Pull together some jobs. Do THEIR jobs for goodness sake. The longer they entertain this penchant for the bad old days is as long as they will be locked out of public office come November.

we need to focus on education, not abortion

The US Congress has been focusing on abortion a lot lately. Abortion — the word alone causes an immediate and strong reaction, and it should,  it’s horrible when a woman finds herself in need of an abortion. The best plan is to not get into that situation in the first place, if at all possible and that’s why it’s important for the American agenda to focus on education,  not abortion.

I want unborn babies to be saved,  there is nothing better than a baby being born to a mother who is healthy, educated and able to financially and emotionally support her child. But, in order to do that, the focus of the American agenda needs to  provide a better support  to young women in ways that they may become independent, self-empowered people with great goals for becoming a vital part of her community. As such she will be more likely to postpone pregnancy to a time when she is able to take care of her children and to be healthy enough to carry to full-term.  This can be done in three ways, supporting the physical health of young women, support the self-esteem of high-risk young women, instilling within them financial literacy skills, and any support emotional or tutorial needed to finish high school and get a Bachelor’s Degree in a field where she may excel. By giving a young woman the ability to go to college and have something to work toward besides attracting a man at a young age, helps to prevent her from using sex as a method of self-esteem and security which may result in an unplanned pregnancy. This is the most effective way to protect the unborn in America.

I wish you had come to me with your birth control offer years ago so I wouldn’t have had 14 babies.

– Sharon, client #24 from projectprevention.org website. 

Another way to prevent unplanned pregnancy is to make birth control readily available to low-income couples. Statistics show that many unplanned pregnancies are a result of not having the proper birth control available or affordable to low-income couples. It’s important to address unplanned pregnancy as a cultural issue, the glorification of having unprotected sex as a status symbol needs to change, women need to perceive that their ability to bear children is a sacred right and to use their age old responsibility to be discerning about the man allowed to have the privilege of being with her. Our sisters in the animal kingdom know this, they don’t let just any random animal mate with them. They look for the one who will be there to provide and care for the babies once they are born. How did this simple rule of Nature get lost in our culture? Male animals work to be worthy of being a father the status is in being a stable provider of love and objects of necessity to his offspring and mate especially while the babies are nursing. To have this honor males in other species sometimes fight to the death for the chance to be with a female. Not to advocate violence, that’s not my point, my point is to be more discerning about one’s sex partner and not to devalue sex to the extent it has been degraded and devalued in the American culture.  The second part of  the equation is to make birth control readily available to those who could wisely plan their pregnancies, avoiding an unwanted pregnancy. The attack on Planned Parenthood has the distinct unintended possibility of creating more, not less, unplanned pregnancies. Once it gets to that point, once there is the horribly painful situation of an unplanned pregnancy at hand, history shows that people have taken matters into their own hands. It doesn’t have to be that way. The lower cost solution, both in human and taxpayer cost is to focus on a positive way to not let it get that far.

Lastly, there needs to be good pregnancy planning education and sexual health curriculum  in place in public schools. Although people would like to assume that all parents are present, prepared and willing to have “the talk” it simply isn’t the case for many children. They are left to fend for themselves,  given misinformation or no information at all,and many times because they are using bad information to make decisions, things don’t go as planned. Places like Planned Parenthood can offer medically trained professionals with the most up-to-date information to be a resource for “the talk” if needed . It is important that good information is given to young adults so they can make the best choices for themselves.

The best way to stop abortion is through abortion prevention, a good education, self-esteem and a hopeful future worth abstaining  or at least using birth control for, can be some of the best  measures for abortion prevention available. Give young women an attainable, and worthwhile goal to work toward so that their pregnancy can be a planned and joyous occasion as  it is meant to be, which is the best scenario for everyone involved.