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Despite most pundits conceding that the First Hundred Days set for passing judgments on a new Chief Executive's performance isn't very realistic, today marks President obama’s first leg of the journey. The media clamors for top ratings with verbose and mundane chatter that actually commenced on the ninetieth day! I needn't list the abundance of comparisons and opinions, accusations and projections. You all are more than aware, I'm sure. So, on this momentous day, I've decided on a different tack. I'm going to wander back into 150 years of history. For me, never an avid history buff, it is a different mindset than most of the country which is now zeroed in on present ills.

As I earn my living on a keyboard, and in addition volunteer a sizeable amount of work to publications and sites like Fab 40, I continually fight time schedules and deadlines. Over the last two weeks, the one thing that could slow me down did; a flare up of almost paralytic carpal tunnel syndrome in my left hand. A touch typist, having only one hand with which to type was as debilitating as no hands. Luckily, I'm right-handed, so I could write and I could read. And, did I ever read!

It is not my place here to promote my books beyond my bio, or other authors, or their work unless specifically requested to do so by Yana. That being said, I do thank those that have, of their own accord, chosen to buy and read my novel. All authors love to be read. It's our life blood. However, with the state of the country, the world, even the Planet, more citizens and attention is being paid to politics than any time since, possibly, the Great Depression! Therefore, my next comments are most definitely on topic. Totally non-partisan topic.

For months, it has been my goal to trudge my way through the 800 and some odd pages of "Team of Rivals" by Doris Kearns Goodwin. This goal, I suppose, was due to my present disdain for politics as usual, coupled with a need to be better informed on the inner workings of the beast, and an immense admiration for, Goodwin, the woman. I have to read so many books in my role as book reviewer, I questioned myself on why such a lengthy and 'deep' book. Was I nuts? The ongoing problem with my typing capacity, however, afforded me the opportunity to begin the trek.  

Ms. Goodwin, a Pulitzer prize-winning, best-selling author and presidential historian, surely is not in wont of promotion from me. She is in continual demand on the media circuit. Yet, I'm compelled to say, with the very nature of this column being political; I learned more political history, fascinating history, in the first 250 pages of this incredible book than I did in all of high school and college. Or, years since. The state of this Union, the general attitude of most of the citizenry as to crisis, corruption, and political games, should move, personal idealism aside, this book to everyone's 'must read' list.

The insider political games going on today are nothing new. This mode of government, the back room deals, the financial meanderings, the bias of the individual media outlets and the press, are all old history. The games have been played since, and during, the writing of the document we all think of as the very spine of the nation, The Constitution of the United States. Yes, there were 'deals' made during that feat, as well.  

What has changed is the magnitude of technology and information available, and the speed with which it is distributed world wide. The numbers of people inhabiting the planet is dangerously close to being unsustainable given available natural resources. Even with medical breakthroughs unimaginable 150 years ago, we still face the current fear of a viral pandemic. But, with all of our current problems, past generations have suffered far worse. Bigger and more volatile inner-government uprisings, partisanship and territory disputes than we can even assimilate. As many Civil War novels that I've read, I knew it was the most disastrous conflict ever in our history, but I did not know that 51,000 Americans died on the rolling hills of Gettysburg alone. Countless thousands more were critically wounded.

As bad as the economy is now, it was far worse in The Great Depression. We went through the global disasters of two World Wars, Korea, and a period following of Cold War and nuclear proliferation. We slogged through the horror of Viet Nam in our own lifetime. Government is never going to be perfect. Crisis is as common as good times and growth, if not moreso. We must accept the fact, as a people, that the world has changed. Everything IS a global issue now. We have new crises that must be dealt with in new ways. Humankind is going to have to accept the fact that for any one nation to survive, all must work together. All must take responsibility for preserving the environment, or none of us will survive.

I'm totally convinced for government to ever work, we the people must take our hold on the reins and make it work. We can do that in the voting booth. Regardless the venue, air waves, twitter or tweet, face book or face screens, press or blog, when we hear the pundits relay games and strategies for 2010 or 2012, we need to collectively scream for term limits and performance reviews. It is up to us, the people, to do the oversight, demand the transparency and force the accountability. We the people, as one united unit must control the government. The people were given the power. It is not the fault of government if we fail as a people.

Yes, there will always be disagreements on rights, needs, means, and methods. Human nature is what it is. Having a strong faith and the right of personal choice on idealism and behavior (as long as it’s victimless) is an individual 'right'. It's also a collective right. An organized church or doctrine being the basis of how you live your life and make choices is and should be your own business. How someone else, whether next door or three states away, chooses is not. It doesn't mix with government.  

Separation of church and state was not added to the Constitution as filler. When we hear of a politician taking a stand on a strategic issue based totally on how a particular group, region or religion will cast their votes in the next election is, to me, immoral. Unfortunately, it is not illegal and it is, and always has been, the norm. If we truly want change in this country, only we the people can make it happen. If change fails, it is not the fault of our new president, or the congress, or an extremist group, or even a 'bug'. It will be we the people, collectively, who fail. No one person, or even one group, can do it alone.

Please forgive any time lapses or mistakes in this column. At my age, rapid healing is illusive. I do want to say Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there. May your rainbows and flowers be many.  

 Susan Haley, Author
RAINY DAY PEOPLE – A Novel
FIBERS IN THE WEB  

**Susan Haley is the published author of two books, several articles on networking, an award-winning poet, a contract copy editor, and a book reviewer for AME Marketing out of San Diego. She also contributes a column to "The Florida Writer", the official magazine of the Florida Writers Association, of which she is Facilitator for the Sarasota County Chapter. The audio version of her novel, "Rainy Day People", received a 2008 Indie Excellence National Book Award. She also contributes a variety of editorials and excerpts of her work to various E-zines, newsletters and written publications.



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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Mjmurphy wrote Apr 30, 2009
    • You Wrote: I'm totally convinced for government to ever work, we the people must take our hold on the reins and make it work. We can do that in the voting booth. Regardless the venue, air waves, twitter or tweet, face book or face screens, press or blog, when we hear the pundits relay games and strategies for 2010 or 2012, we need to collectively scream for term limits and performance reviews. It is up to us, the people, to do the oversight, demand the transparency and force the accountability. We the people, as one united unit must control the government. The people were given the power. It is not the fault of government if we fail as a people.

      I couldn’t agree with you more Susan!! We have the power and we don’t even know it. I was a community orgainzer for several years and it was always an amazing experience when the neighborhood I organized became empowered and began to demand accountability. Even better, they got it!  

      Thank you for another wonderful article! Hope your hand heals up soon.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Vikki Hall wrote Apr 30, 2009
    • Thx for another great article.....



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Tamra wrote May 1, 2009
    • Thanks for another thought-provoking article.  Much wisdom in your words.

      I would like you to expand on one thought if you are up to it.  

      “When we hear of a politician taking a stand on a strategic issue based totally on how a particular group, region or religion will cast their votes in the next election is, to me, immoral. Unfortunately, it is not illegal and it is, and always has been, the norm.”

      I feel it is important that our elected officials listen to the people and act and vote accordingly.  In fact, I believe this is what’s missing in Washington and has led to so much distrust in gov’t.  My first impression is that the quoted remarks are contrary to my opinion, but I’m guessing you actually agree with my position.  Could you develop your statement in more detail?



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote May 1, 2009
    • Hi Tamra

      Absolutely, I agree that our congressional representatives and senators should attend to the desires of their constituents. That is, as you said, why they are there.

      Reading your well thought out question, I can see where I failed to make my position clear. I was referring to leadership and principles that affect the entire nation, not just their region or district. We as citizens are busy with our own lives, too. We simply cannot be experts or privy to every issue in every area of government. So we elect leaders based, hopefully, on credentials and intelligence.
      If a representative leader is to vote on a national or international issue of great importance that their constituents simply aren’t knowlegeable about, they better vote the larger principle. Just for example: A bill on the banning of selling assault weapons. Anyone with a modicom of intelligence knows only a person bent on mass slaughter needs an assault weapon. We sure don’t need an AK47 to defend home or property. These weapons unless banned end up in gangs and on streets and are harmful to society as a whole.
      However, say a legislator represents a rural, less educated, region where hunting is next to godliness. These folks are convinced this legislation is going to rip their 20-06 hunting rifle from their hands. They aren’t looking at the big picture. They may not even be aware or feel affected by the slaughter on the streets of south LA. They just rail against gun controls. So, in order to secure re-election, the legislator forgets principle, rejects pure common sense and right vs wrong and votes against the ban on assault weapons. That, to me, is selling your soul and it’s immoral. That is the principle I was attempting to illustrate. That’s the most basic example I can think of. The principle, itself, often delves into policies of crucial import of global ramifications. These are the areas where we must be able to trust in the integrity rather than just the ‘ambitions’ of our politicians.
      Hope that better explains my view.

      This one handed typing is not easy, girls. But, I am appreciating all comments. :)

      Susan



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Tamra wrote May 1, 2009
    • Thanks so much Susan.  I understand totally.  Once again, you are right are on target.  I value your sensibility.

      Your point about our limited ability to study and respond to the issues causes me much guilt at times.  I believe deeply that the gov’t is merely a reflection of we, the people.  But it is indeed impossible to be well-informed on the numerous, complicated issues facing our society.  Throw in a touch of laziness or apathy, and we arrive where we are today.  And we have no one to blame but ourselves.  And everyone should admit, like me, I am partially to blame for the mess we are in.

      Yes, elected officials ought to have the courage and ethics to do what is right.  But I suppose more than anything, they want to get re-elected, so they vote according to their constituency.  For instance, it’s clear that Pres Bush was quite unpopular at the end of his term.  But if he would have followed popular opinion, perhaps the Republican party would have held onto the executive office.

      Fortunately our system of gov’t has built in checks and balances.  I would hope that the overall national consensus would win out when Congress acts.  But it only works if we, the people, perform our due diligence by speaking up and voting wisely.

      I agree that leadership and courage in our federal gov’t is lacking.  Heck, I think leadership in our society overall is almost non-existent.  

      I feel that our current state of affairs is more a reflection on the American people, not the poor governance.  We, the people, often don’t exhibit much courage or leadership as individuals.  Take the housing debacle.  Just because someone says you can afford a huge house doesn’t mean you ought to go out and buy one.  Blaming the Clinton administration for pushing Fannie Mae to make more loans as the reason for the economic troubles, is short-sighted.

      I believe that personal accountability would fix just about every problem in this nation.  Period.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote May 1, 2009
    • May, I give you a rousing “right on!“, Tamra! Now that the one point I made less than cleary has been clarified, you have beautifully summed up the entire intitial column. Thank you.
      Susan



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