This election year is an important opportunity to change the mindset of policymakers and citizens. Most elections aren’t contested and seem more like coronations. But, fighters should continue to fight the good fight because the stakes are so high. We should use the debates and campaigns as platforms to unveil new and better approaches to old problems and situations because status quo simply isn’t working.
Status quo: To me, status quo with candidates, political parties and policymakers involves the far Right telling everyone what they should do as you would address children and the far Left trying to help everyone with their problems after the problems occur.
Solution: We need lawmakers and policy makers who speak clearly and frankly to the people about the role of government and about personal choices, decisions, and consequences. We need a fresh and different mindset about how we carry ourselves. “Carry ourselves” is old school Black heritage; it harkens back to the days when we knew who we were and whose we were; times when Black people sought the opportunities to achieve and strive without encumbrances. Today, many of our encumbrances and obstacles are self-made.
Most politicians know that their abilities to improve our nation are limited by reality and fiscal constraints but those so-called leaders are reluctant to say that. Presidents Kennedy, Reagan and Obama basely said the same thing: ask not what this country can do for you, ask what you can do for this country; government is the problem. Some might be surprise that I put President Obama on that list but I think he is a “do for self” person who is hamstrung by party politics. The post-presidential Obama will be so beneficial to the spirit of this blog post.
The good fiscal news is that my solutions are free, cheap or low-cost. It’s all about K.S.A. Oldheads will remember that Knowledge, Skills and Abilities requirements were once part of the federal government employment application process. But, I still think in terms of young people getting knowledge from those who went before them, developing skills to function smoothly in life and understanding their God-given abilities. Politicians and candidates always speak to youth about soaring like eagles and bla bla bla—there is plenty of that “wind beneath my wings” talk out there.
But, it’s time for some substances…some tools….some meat. I wrote a blog post years ago called “A and B before C and D” that asked leaders to encourage if not demand that government spend more resources and energy preventing problems and life crisis than addressing the growing numbers of people with messy situations. To be honest, most people with troubled lives walked right into their circumstances. Did momma, daddy, school, church, friends and the police beg them to get on the right track?
(Here is the part when a moderate Democrat admits that the conservatives are right about something.) You almost want to say forget them; they made their beds when they ignore the warning and stop signs. But, you can’t because idly watching human suffering isn’t very Christ-like. What about 2 Thessalonians 3:10 “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
U.S. Congressman and Senate candidate Jack Kingston is one of my favorite lawmakers. I kicked it with Jack at a RNC Club one night for 15 minutes alone 20 years ago and he outlined his career-long efforts to advocate for Southeast Georgia. It blew me away to learn that Kingston wants to consider having kids who eat free school lunch clean the school or cafeteria to pay off their tab or whatever. Come on, Jack…that’s jacked up. I think Jack is really thinking that parents without lunch money for their kids should be shamed into going to work…. “get off your fat behinds and provide for yours.” What ticks off reasonable people are the fact that people who need help are sometimes the same people who are too good and too proud to flip burgers or harvest vegetables.
We are approaching this wrong. We must find a positive way to encourage personal responsibility and achievement. To be honest again, leaders need to speak knowledge and wisdom to help replace the home training that isn’t taking place anymore. At the same time, that old school home training needs to take place and young people should delay starting families until they have themselves together. The writers of this blog welcome the opportunity to talk with any campaign staffers seeking to mix our thoughts and ideas into their approaches.
And the first mindset change involves video games and hip hop music.