Posts Tagged ‘Newt Gingrich’

I saw a news analyst yesterday discussing the ongoing Republican presidential primary who was discussing the general lack of enthusiasm for this group of candidates, both within the party and across the country as a whole.  None of these characters had sparked any real fires in the hearts and minds of the populace. The analyst admitted that he was a Democrat so he was somewhat pleased but he then made a point that really stood out for me. 

 He said this group of candidates’  lack of imagination and the ability to produce a single big idea were the most disturbing aspect of this whole fiasco.  They had not given us, the citizenry of this country, anything that made us dream forward, made us want to rally behind them.  They had not challenged us in any way, save for one feeble effort from a damaged and bitter Newt Gingrich who pandered to the Florida space community by proposing what I think amounted to senior citizen housing on Mars.

This lack of vision and imagination is not only bad news for the Republican party effort but is detrimental for the entire country.  It allows the Democrats to not have to respond with an even bigger vision of their own, lets them run simply on a smaller scale, missing a grand opportunity to unite the citizenry behind the type of grand idea that might define us as a people.  Think of JFK proposing the Peace Corps as a candidate in 1960 or his challenge to us to  put a man on the moon by the end of the decade.  Or FDR and the sweeping New Deal porposals of his 1932 campaign.  Ideas that put our vision forward in a united way instead of focusing on the divided present.

I don’t see any of this group of clowns coming up with a grand vision of where they wish to steer this country.  They offer the same old proposals of  trickle down economics and tax cuts for the wealthy that have been a drag on this country for over 30 years.  They offer no hope, no inspiration for betterment  for anyone trapped in the lower classes of our society.  They certainly don’t give us a vision of the future that unites us as a people, bound together by a single large goal. 

I know that it may be asking too much for someone running for president but I  wish they would come up with a single  big idea.  Perhaps I couldn’t get behind it but at least it might spur an even bigger and better idea that would excite me and millions of others to action. 

 And that would be something to see.  Just imagine what we might accomplish…

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A couple of things stuck out recently for me when following the mass media.  On The Daily Show,  comedy writer Merrill Markoe appeared this week and during her interview made the statement that there are now so many socially acceptable ways to exhibit a pathological lack of empathy.  I knew this  already but it was so succinctly put that it stuck in my mind, especially when listening to the GOP candidates such as Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich basically attack the poor in recent appearances, blaming the poor’s own lack of initiative for their condition. 

 I do not disagree there are ways for some to dig out from the depths of poverty.  But for some it is a pit that can’t be escaped.  I often think of a man I worked with for a number of years at the Perkin’s Restaurant where I worked when I first started painting.  He was a few years older than me which put him around forty years old at the time.  He worked as a dishwasher and busboy making around six dollars an hour.  I can’t remember what the minimum wage was at the time since I was a waiter and was only paid $2.35 per hour.  This fellow’s wife was ill with some sort of chronic disease and it was constant struggle to stay afloat without assistance for their medical bills.  To me, he remains the face of the working poor.

Now this man had no escape routes in his life.  He had little education and it was painfully obvious.  His prospects for doing a lot better than his current position were slim, at best.  The jobs that once might have paid more in the factories and plants of our area were gone and probably weren’t coming back anytime soon.  He couldn’t leave.  He didn’t know where to go and if he did, he couldn’t afford to move what little he did have.   He made a few extra dollars helping a friend pick junk but he was unfortunately near the top of his potential.  This was a man who worked hard and did the right things, all that he knew,  but still found himself at the very bottom. 

He deserves our empathy.  He deserves a hand extended. 

Instead he and many thousands, maybe many millions, like him are categorized as merely lazy slackers who suck on the public teat.  The hubris dispalyed by these politicians makes me angry.  They anxiously seek to protect the wealthiest among us whose fortunes have been made possible by the blood and sweat of people like this dishwasher, who have been both the primary workers and customers for their businesses.  Yet do they feel a tinge of empathy for anyone other than the so-called job-creators?

I don’t think so.  At least, it’s not something they dare to exhibit in public.

Maybe I’m wrong in talking about such things here.  Maybe this verges on political statement.  I don’t care.  Too many of us have remained silent and on the sidelines or have started to buy into that Ayn Rand-ish tenet that selfishness is a virtue that these people spout at every turn.  Maybe someone will not like what I say here and suddenly find my work not to their liking. 

So be it.  I have to believe that people who find something in my work  also have high capacities for empathy towards others.  Those are the people for whom I want to paint.  People who believe there’s a better world a-coming, as Woody Guthrie sang in his song many years ago.  When I see how forcefully he stood up for his beliefs and the rights of others, I am ashamed at how little I have done myself.  Here’s his song:


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