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A Populace Residing in Alternate Realities

Has the gulf between perceptions become too wide to ever admit common ground?

 

At the outset, a partial retraction:
I take pride in maintaining factual credibility and high journalistic standards throughout my blog series. That compels me to offer a correction to an impression created in my former post concerning the status of the FairTax movement. Earl Long, the local group’s former president whom I had quoted indirectly, felt my depiction of the present state of the organization was partly inaccurate. I did some further checking with other group principals and herewith offer the following amendments. While the top leadership may not equal the passionate thrust of the movement’s late cofounder Leo Linbeck, Jr., his son is fulfilling an honest and respectable leadership role nationally. Although there has been some dissension among members locally, most of the officers do still maintain their positions and support for the group. The lack of regular organizational meetings of late has been due largely to having met the goals established at the local and state level and to the ill health of some key members.

* * *

My wife, Dee, and I had the delightful pleasure recently of treating two old friends to a celebration of their wedding anniversary at a posh restaurant in Overland Park. Dee and I share many things in common with this couple—literary activities, spiritual explorations, academic interests, to name only a few. Yet during the course of the meal when the topic of the presidential election came up, to our mutual surprise we were on absolute opposite ends of the spectrum regarding our perceptions of the candidates. We wisely didn’t linger over the subject, not wishing to dampen the joy of the occasion and the savoring of tender steaks, fine wine and sumptuous fudge-chocolate cake and ice cream. But in retrospect it called to my mind certain other situations of late when I witnessed the insurmountable chasm dividing people and their beliefs so prevalent in our society at present.

Some weeks ago Dee and I were invited to attend a lecture by KrisAnne Hall, the author and attorney who travels the country teaching the Constitution and the history behind the U.S. founding documents. A radio and TV personality, KrisAnne further describes herself as “a disabled Army veteran, a Russian linguist, a mother, a pastor’s wife and a patriot.” To label her as a Constitutional authority would be a gross understatement. Her presentation of law, the Constitution and historical facts is overwhelming.

As her lecture and PowerPoint unfolded, more and more undeniable—and often unpleasant—truths began to emerge. The government of our founding fathers has over time been turned upside down; the states themselves from the beginning should have retained their sovereignty over the central government since they created it by contract among themselves, not the other way around. The central government receives its delegated power from the states as is made clear in the 10th Amendment. Furthermore, this delegated power pertains almost exclusively to “external objects”—war, peace, negotiation and foreign commerce. And as Thomas Jefferson declared, “Whenever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void and of no force.” “Nullification,” then, is the legitimate act by the states of refusing to implement unconstitutional federal directives. And nullification is enforced by the ultimate protector of the rights of the people—the local sheriffs, peace officers and legislatures of the states who are sworn to properly uphold the Constitution and answer only to the people themselves.

Although the foregoing summary only scratches the surface, its implications are profound. Virtually everything the federal government is involved with today is actually unconstitutional. Obamacare—unconstitutional (Krisanne explained the Supreme Court can issue only opinion, not binding law)! Common Core—unconstitutional. The EPA—unconstitutional. Presidential edicts not restricted to his/her internal executive operations—unconstitutional. OSHA—unconstitutional. On and on. Yet how many citizens really understand this or, for that matter, really care, believing instead that the federal government and the president are the ultimate authority over their lives?

A short time later my journalist friend A. J. and I attended a different lecture by a scholar on Islam, Robert Spencer, who is the director of Jihad Watch and the author of 16 books on Muslim studies. He began by quoting the Queen in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass: “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” He then extended the application of that quote to President Barack Obama as pertains to what the president expresses to the American people about Islam and perhaps to himself as well. Spencer defined three beliefs which he bluntly characterized as lies: (1) Islam is a religion of peace, (2) great progress is being made in defeating ISIL, and (3) ISIL poses no real threat to the U.S. None of these assertions, he opined, are accurate.

He proceeded to quote a number of verses from the Qur’an that incite the believer to violence, such as (8:12), “Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.” He explained that since the faithful see the Qur’an as God’s direct word and edict, the true believer is bound to carry out these divine directives. He then cited several instances where such exhortations were taken literally and executed by common-citizen Muslims against their Christian neighbors. Yes, he reiterated, there are peaceful Muslims, but the religion itself is not. Furthermore, although ISIL was driven from some locations in Iraq, they still control a large land mass and the oil wells within. By selling oil under the market price to their neighbors, they insulate themselves from having the wells and harbor bombed. The oil revenues finance their operations in the millions, and they are gaining converts from all over the world. Their imminent defeat is an illusion. Finally, ISIL is, indeed, through infiltration among refugees and Internet recruitment, gathering a network within the U.S. to strike vulnerable targets with terrorism. And he provided examples uncovered by authorities that haven’t been widely disseminated in the media.

Lastly, the author Jonathan Earle spoke at the Plaza library about his upcoming book Electing Abraham Lincoln: The Revolution of 1860 and drew parallels from it with our current presidential campaign chaos. I’d written a term paper on Lincoln in high school and wouldn’t have missed the presentation for the world. Lincoln defeated Senator William Seward for the Republican nomination, Earle explained, and took on a divided Democratic Party and won with less than 40% of the popular vote. That prompted the secession of South Carolina and roiled the whole South and ushered in the Civil War. Had Lincoln been defeated, the Civil War would have been averted, slavery would have eventually died on the vine from obsolescence, and 650,000 brave men would have survived to raise families and live productive lives. Still, Earle expressed great admiration for Lincoln relative to his having “preserved the Union.”

Most libertarians, however, view Lincoln and his presidency in quite a different light. His suspension of habeas corpus, violations of the First Amendment, war crimes committed by his generals, and actual views on race tantamount to bigotry would only form an introduction to their list of grievances. As the writer Michael Hutcheson points out on his blog, “Lincoln was the greatest tyrant and despot in American history. In the first four months of his presidency, he created a complete military dictatorship, destroyed the Constitution, ended forever the constitutional republic which the Founding Fathers instituted, committed horrendous crimes against civilian citizens, and formed the tyrannical, overbearing and oppressive Federal government which the American people suffer under to this day.” Well, perhaps that brings us full circle, back to KrisAnne Hall’s lament about today’s plethora of Constitutional violations—however, I have no idea how she feels about Abraham Lincoln.

The bottom line here is not about who is right and who is wrong. Rather, the takeaway is simply that we’re a nation right now with a populace divided into two totally opposite realities concerning everything from climate change to health care and beyond. The previously discussed topics provide only some detailed examples of this sad state in which grave consequences are at stake, yet common ground seems impossible. And any feasible solution in the here and now even more remote. Happy electioneering!

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Mark Scheel

Mark Scheel grew up in east-Kansas farm country. He attended both Kansas State University and The University of Kansas, majoring in psychology and English. Prior to writing full time he served overseas with the American Red Cross in Vietnam, Thailand, West Germany and England, taught at Emporia State University and was an information specialist with the Johnson County Library in Shawnee Mission, Kansas. His stories, articles and poems have appeared in numerous magazines including The Little Balkans Review, Kansas Quarterly, The Cincinnati Poetry Review, The Kansas City Star, Heritage of Kansas, Samisdat, and Poet as well as many sites online such as Common Ground News. His literary activities have also involved membership in The Kansas Authors Club, a seat on the board of directors for Potpourri Publications Company and an editorial position with Kansas City Voices magazine. He co-authored the book Of Youth and the River: the Mississippi Adventure of Raymond Kurtz, Sr., and his collection of stories and poems, A Backward View, was awarded the 1998 J. Donald Coffin Memorial Book Award. His most recent book is titled The Pebble: Life, Love, Politics and Geezer Wisdom.


9 comments to A Populace Residing in Alternate Realities

  • Mark, I think there comes (or should come) a time in everyone’s life when life becomes too short to (for want of a better term) “sweat the small stuff.” One week from today, I will turn 80 years old – long past the time when I don’t have “better things to do” (again, for want of a better term) than to be a prisoner of hidebound ideological thinking.

    As long as dangerous egomaniacs like Trump don’t get into power, it is enough for me to let extreme liberals, conservatives and libertarians take their my-way-or-the-highway differences — including views of the constitution — to my grave. This country is too big and too diverse not to be willing to put compromise above complete political domination over those who don’t think the same way you (not you personally) do….but I know that will not change anytime soon (if ever).

  • Hi mistermuse,

    First off, happy birthday!! That’s a milestone.

    Second, the problem comes in defining what’s “the small stuff.” Totally busting the Constitution and dominating the people doesn’t seem small to me. What did we fight and die for across Europe and the Pacific if we simply allow those political systems to evolve into becoming our own now?

    Do you not also consider Hillary a “dangerous egomaniac,” albeit in “sheep’s” clothing?

    Yes, I certainly agree, at this stage of life I’d love to concentrate on much more pleasant and joyful things than damn politics, but the devils won’t let us alone.

    Finally, thank you for commenting! Much appreciated. Now, in reciprocation I’m going to stumble over to your site, wherever it is, and comment on your latest! See–I’m not such a bad guy after all. LOL

    Mark

  • Mark, as I pointed out in my first comment, I used the words “sweat the small stuff” for want of a better term — I couldn’t think of a better term at the time, and having unlimited time to think of better terms isn’t in the cards (as much as I might wish otherwise). “Totally busting the Constitution” seems a bit over-the-top to me, but perhaps you couldn’t think of a better term either.

    As for Hillary, she’s a very flawed candidate, but (as many have pointed out) this is a “LESSER OF TWO EVILS” election, and in my opinion, she is clearly the lesser of two evils. If you don’t see it that way, I’m sure there’s nothing either of us can say that would change the other person’s mind.

    And now I will try to submit the *!#**!! “CAPTCHA Code” correctly so that this comment doesn’t disappear into cyberspace!

  • Hi mistermuse,

    Well, I just wrote a lengthy reply and then lost it because the system dumped it when I had to sign bottom. Damn! Anyway, I was expressing appreciation for the dialogue.

    Suffice it to say ““Totally busting the Constitution” is exactly what I meant–reread all the unconstitutional acts of the federal government I enumerated. And that only scratches the surface. As for Hillary, no we’d never agree–did you see the just released video of her exchanging “penis” jokes with a female interviewer? And she has the gall to accuse Trump of vulgarity–the hypocrite.
    And did you see the just released e-mails where your man Bernie was victimized by the collusion of Hillary and the media to destroy his campaign? On and on.

    But that’s the point of my post–that reasonable people this go around can’t find common ground–is there no objective truth to which one can appeal?

    You take care,

    Mark

  • Mark, I likewise just wrote a lengthy reply and lost it, and I’m not going to waste another half hour trying again. In the future, if I can’t reply to one of your posts in a few words, I’m not going to reply at all. Sorry.

  • Mistermuse,

    Yep. You have my total empathy. Wish we lived closer together; we’d do a “Wendy’s breakfast” together and discuss these things over coffee. I’d really enjoy that!

    Keep your courage,

    Mark

  • Hmm…I don’t see Sir Don here, either, Sr. Scheel. Maybe’s taking a break. Alternate realities began when right-wing radio and FOX news started them. Occam’s trusty razor tells us that.

  • That should read “Maybe he’s taking a break.”

  • Hello again, Ricardo,

    Right-wing radio and FOX News are actually late to the game, if they’re even in this game. Note, in what I address, neither are involved whatsoever: three lectures and a book. As for Occam’s razor, it wouldn’t apply to the examples I give because, while useful in scientific inquiry and some philosophic questions, politics is so conspiratorial and convoluted that one never has a straight path “simply” from point A to point B.

    Don, come on back, wherever you are! 😉

    Thanks, Richard.

    Mark

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