Country First

Country First


Leonard Zwelling

I came across this new organization (Country First) that might be worth a look for anyone who cannot find a political home in the current Democratic or Republican Parties.  It was started by retiring Republican member of Congress Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. He is advocating for more voter participation, especially in primaries and an end to the repetitive lying going on from both sides of the political aisle.

I, for one, signed up (it was free, but you can donate if you like).

One of the things you learn if you are willing to put your ideas out there as I do in this blog is that people will characterize your politics for you. I get it from both sides, which is as it should be because I consider myself a middle-of-the-road kind of guy politically—a Scoop Jackson Democrat or a Lowell Weicker Republican.  I see the value of ideas on both sides and the error of those on both sides running to the extremes—in one case those who worship at the feet of Donald Trump and on the other the liberal Squad members. Their policies and behaviors strike me as frankly ridiculous and are undermining the voting public with extreme views and outright lies.

Let’s discuss a few of the most damaging by elucidating some facts.

First, Donald Trump did not win the 2020 Presidential election. Donald Trump did incite an insurrection on January 6, 2021. Donald Trump wants to be President again and that would be a terrible idea despite his overseeing a great economy because he is and was an embarrassment to this country. He is also not very bright and given more time in office would undoubtedly make additional costly errors as he did with his policies toward NATO. You don’t win people over by embarrassing them.

Second, Black Lives Matter, but so do all other lives. The pandering to minorities is undermining the very ability of those minorities to succeed on their own. Affirmative action has its good points, but it also allows people to question the achievements of those successful minorities who have actually triumphed against the odds. Singling out Blacks, Latin people, American Indians and any other group that has been historically discriminated against has its positive and negative aspects. A full recognition of this simple fact on the left would be helpful instead of the knee-jerk liberalism in which income redistribution is the solution to everything. It’s not. These are complex problems requiring thoughtful and complex solutions. Those solutions cannot be reduced to a tweet.

Third, the traditional Republican value of a strong defense is still a good idea. If we need any reminder of our global enemies, events in the Ukraine should have been sufficient for that purpose. And Russia isn’t our most dangerous adversary. China is. President Xi is watching events in Ukraine closely as he may try a similar maneuver and invade Taiwan. The only thing that could prevent that is his perception that such a move would be answered by American naval might which is not at the level where it ought to be currently. While we are investing in the Ukrainian military, we might consider investing in our own.

Fourth, the economy is a mess thanks to Covid, supply chain issues, and the resultant inflation. We need clear-eyed dynamic leadership to reverse these trends. I don’t see it on either side of the aisle. We could use some. Perhaps Mr. Kinzinger will come out of retirement a la Tom Brady and have a run at the Presidency. We need alternatives to Trump, DeSantis, Cruz, Abbott, Sanders, Clinton and Biden.

America is still an experiment. As someone who used to make his living doing experiments, I can assure you that many of them failed. The American experiment cannot afford to fail. The world is counting on us as the people in Ukraine have made clear and as Putin fears. An American led NATO can defeat the Russians, but it will take vision and will and what Coach K called the five fingers of the fist—communication, trust, collective responsibility, caring and pride. When those things that work so well on a basketball court enter the halls of Congress, we are on our way to a new American revival.

Finally, I cannot help but observe that the cacophony that fills the airwaves of America, is mirrored in the discord among the faculty of MD Anderson. Better leadership there would help as well along with some candor and shared governance with the faculty from the MD Anderson president. My understanding is that 23 departments do not have permanent chairs. If this is so the president should be ashamed and the provost and chief scientific officer ought to be fired. What the heck are they doing? Are they not looking, not finding or of insufficient stature to attract?

Where is the leadership of yesteryear?

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