Tag Archives: politics

To wake up means leaving a political world created in someone else’s image and moving to one in your image….

Clarity of thought on the process for getting what we want, when we want it, from who we want it should first start with acknowledging that we live in someone else’s thoughts.  Our economic, political, and legal environments resulted from a thought process that we were not invited to participate in.  I believe proof of this can be provided by asking the average 21st century citizen a number of foundational questions.  “What is economics?” “What is the law of supply and demand?”  “How did this rule come about and why?” “What is law?”  “What is the history of law?”  “Can a monarchy be referred to as a government?”

Imagine you are a hunter/gatherer.  Your survival would require that you be in tune with your environment.  It would require that you are aware of the changes in the seasons; how seasonal changes impact animal migration; and note when certain trees and plants grow and the type of fruit that they may bear.  You have knowledge of these processes.  But even the hunter/gatherer lives in “another’s thoughts”.  Just like today’s 21st century citizen could not explain the genesis of economic, political, or legal philosophy, the hunter/gatherer could not explain the genesis of Earth itself.  “Why do we have trees?”  “Why was this planet created in the first place?”

For the 21st century citizen or the hunter/gatherer, “living in the now” of having to satisfy their basic needs and occasional pleasures limit their responses to the above questions with catch phrases like, “It is God’s will.” “It is what it is.” “What the fuck do I care.”  They may visit “the past” either for sentimental reasons; to lay a platform for blame; or to escape the overwhelming nature of the present.

The fear of the future is not a commonality between hunter/gatherer and the 21st century citizen.  The hunter/gatherer consumed what he had at hand.  There was little to none of any technology that allowed him to store items for days much less overnight.  This is not to say that he was not concerned about shortages or theft.  Shortages meant he had to keep on the move and theft meant establishing kin relationships that expanded the number of his tribe hence his security.

Today, the 21st century citizen crudely tries to occupy “the future” by borrowing today against tomorrow’s income.  He prepares for his retirement years by putting away a portion of his income today so that his nest egg takes care of him tomorrow.  The markets have pushed his fear buttons such that he rushes to E-Trade to open up an account.

I say crudely occupies the future because 21st century man operates primarily in fear.  The economic, political, and legal environment provided for him recognizes his fear.  The environment’s framers share most of the masses, but if there is one unique fear held by the environment’s framers it is fear of mass passion.

To maintain order, to keep his peace, the environment’s framers build a system that hopefully brings predictability of and order over mass behavior.  The framers, to ensure an ordered, predictable economic, political, and legal environment must themselves be inter-spatial.  Their system thrives on economic, political, and legal rules steeped in precedent.  Precedent provides a platform for settling current disputes.  Precedent mitigates uncertainty. Precedent brings order.

Order serves a role other than providing the framers “peace and quiet.”  Order serves as a carriage for the transmission of value.  Order provides a path for commerce to flow.  Order creates less friction for information to flow.  The framers meant for order to connect a non-existent past, “the now”, and the non-existent future.

Many a self-awareness guru will argue that “the now” is a realm of quiet, an open space for the mind, the moment where we are constantly aware of the noise too much thought can bring; the place where two non-existent realms, the past and the future intersect.

The irony is that for the political leader, he wants the masses distracted by a now filled with noisy moments.  He is nothing but the chief chimp banging on a cage filled with other primates.  This is where he paints a noisy economic, political, and legal environment for it is only in such an environment that he can create a narrative that says, “In all this noise and uncertainty, I am the only one who can save you.”

For an increasing number of the African Diaspora, the “Save Us/Chimp” mentality is being challenged, especially among younger blacks.  They are willing to take emerging digital technology and use it to create their own micro-economies.  They grew up hearing stories about social security not being available when they retire.  They are facing increasing costs of housing and crushing student debt.  They have diminishing confidence in the nine-to-five world that their parents and grandparents try to convince them to embark on.  A growing number don’t believe that the government can save them.

Operating more on the willingness to do it their way and less on the paralyzing fear instilled by their elders, political messages steeped in the “savior” narrative are falling on deaf ears.  The new economic, political, and legal outlook may be one where black people say, “The things you promise, we can get on our own with our ingenuity, the internet, and certain aspects of government.  We’ll create and live in our own economic thoughts.”

The weight that partisan and electoral politics played in the political philosophy of black people may be taking a back seat to economic politics, a new thought creating a new world order designed just for us.

Government, on the other hand, is serious business…

State government as corporate body ….

State government is the result of the morphing of colonial stock companies and trading posts.  What does state government do?  In the simplest of terms, state governments in the United States:

  • Sell protection services; i.e. family welfare programs, state militia and state police services, and transportation services.
  • Finance themselves via tax collection and fees for the aforementioned services.
  • Provide the aforementioned services via its own staff or through private contracts.
  • Act as brand managers where regulatory agencies describe and implement the philosophy and policies that guide how protection services are to be delivered.
  • Continuously validate the right to tax and govern the populace by keeping their promises to deliver these services.

Competing for the right to manage the franchise …

Political factions compete for the right to describe and implement the philosophy and policies that guide how protection services are to be delivered.  Think of them as management companies that, through their own internal mechanisms, choose the potential managers that appear on your ballot during an election.

Democracy allows the individual citizen to participate in the selection process.  Voters must suffer the silliness of the campaign season, where the management companies seek to persuade the voter that a particular faction should be allowed to provide the state’s protection services.

Maryland is to Nike as Georgia is to Asics …

Nike and Asics are brands that compete on the tangibles and the intangibles.  How are their shoes priced? How do their shoes look on your feet? How do their shoes enhance your performance on the field or the court?  Most times the decision comes down to the intangibles, down to how the shoes make you feel emotionally.

You can probably say the same thing for an airline.  Should I fly Delta or get on Southwest?  Southwest may win on price, but do they connect to as many destinations as Delta?  Is customer service more important to me than consistent on-time arrivals?

In a mobile nation as the United States, a state’s management company, the ruling faction, must keep in mind the brand messaging for its state. It has to be more than how well parties compete with each other in the silly season of political campaigns.  A Georgia citizen may appreciate the terrain, topography, and climate of the Peach State.  It may even appreciate the diversity of the citizenry; that the state is accepting of all peoples, religions, personal views.

But if the price of living in Georgia i.e. taxes paid and other costs of living are not exceeded by the benefits i.e. the protection services a state is supposed to provide, then that citizen may find herself heading to Maryland or Florida.  It goes to the adage that once you win the office you find governing to be a different animal.

Conclusion: Political parties should be prepared to be government brand managers …

When the silliness of the campaign is over, the real work begins.  Government is serious business.  The hand shaking and rhetoric on the campaign trail has to be translated into service delivery that gets your management company another four-year contract.

Political power starts in households, not in group politics

The head fake …

We are in the silly season.  National election primaries are ramping up as the New Hampshire primary and Iowa caucus looms in February and a number of state legislatures prepare for state representatives to invade their respective state capitals.  It is the silly season because candidates will attempt to sell you ideas and plans that have not a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding.  All one has to do is listen to Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders’ promises of delivering free college education or free childcare for working families without once laying out the tactics for dealing with a Senate that will likely be in the hands of the Republican Party on 3 January 2021.

The danger of group non-efficacy ….

One overlooked incident of silliness is the voters’ placement of limits on their own political power. Many voters limit their power and influence to the singular act of voting.  The reasons are well documented.  Voters are working two jobs trying to keep food on the table.  After working two or more gigs to feed their kids, voters want to chill for a couple hours watching Netflix versus going to a city council meeting or watching a debate or congressional hearing on C-SPAN.

These types of voters, those who cannot make the time to glean information on policy making are dangerous and quite frankly shouldn’t be allowed near a voting booth as their uninformed voting decisions have a negative impact on the rest of society (although some candidates may like this type of voter as long as they have bought into the candidate’s narrative hook, line, and sinker.)  Creating a large collective of voters i.e. political colonization, is advantageous to a candidate especially where the candidate can sell that group on what the group’s self-interests should be.  The candidate enjoys efficiencies from aggregating this most important electoral resource because creating a collection of voters buoyed by a few singular issues helps to refine the number of promises or political packages the candidate has to offer.

The risk to individual households with interests that vary widely from the group is that their political needs will not be served.  Being herded into a large group, whether based on race, culture, income, etc., dilutes your position, limits your influence, drowns out your voice.  There is a decision to be made.  Either be the wolf maximizing your political gains or be the sheep herded to the slaughter spawned by dissatisfaction.

Each household must step out on its own….

An individual household cannot hold itself back out of some false sense of allegiance to a group.  There is no rule saying you must bear the cost of a group’s non-efficacy.  Once you have decided that only you can increase your influence; that showing up just to vote is not enough, then you must take the next step of investment.  I will not tell you that the investment is cheap, but the costs can be minimized.  Here are a few simple steps that you may have already heard of.

First, build your political network.  That network may be right in front of you.  We are all six or fewer handshakes away from meeting Kevin Bacon.  Someone in your network likely knows a policymaker or elected official.  In that case, seek out an introduction.

One other way to meet policy makers or elected officials is to identify the policy maker or elected official that is making a decision on a matter that you are most interested in.  Contrary to public belief, elected officials want to meet you.  You are their resource.  When you identify them, set up a meeting or determine what events they will be attending so that you can meet them.

Second, continuously engage your policy makers or elected officials on those top issues you are concerned about.  Engagement need not be expensive.  Written correspondence is great.  A short letter will suffice.  Letters are preferable to email.  While both types get entered into the record, letters get more thorough responses.  Also, if your budget allows, offer to meet the policy maker or elected official for coffee or lunch.  As long as you are not lobbying on behalf of a group or business, no disclosure reports need be filed.

You can near guarantee an audience if you are bringing some insights or knowledge to the table.  In your emails or letters, always demonstrate that you are abreast of the issue by sharing some tidbit that you have researched.  This bit of information will get you closer to a meet and greet.  Stay informed!

Lastly, donate time, money, or both.  If you want to impress a policy maker or elected official, show up to hearings and if the forum allows, make a statement for the record.  If you believe an elected official is meeting your representative needs, send them a donation.  People who donate get an audience, even if it is a response to a message via LinkedIn.

You can do it …

The above advice is from real world experience.  I have met policy makers and elected officials simply as a result of reaching out.  For we shy types, it is not easy at first, but keeping your “ask” real simple will settle your nerves and keep the engagement simple.  Once you are willing to increase your households influence over the political process, you will see the investment of time as worth it.

Need more consultation on reaching out to policymakers or elected officials? Feel free to reach out to me at altondrew@altondrew.com.