Politics 101: Leadership

I have an idea why America is so polarized, or one reason anyway. When you think about hiring a Congressman or a Senator or even a President, one of the primary things we expect from them is Leadership. But Leadership implies a direction. Lead to where? Until we have an idea where we want to go as a Nation, I doubt we’ll agree on the best person to take us there.

I am not running for office, but these are the kinds of things I am thinking about. Let’s see if anyone still wants to support me.

Border SecurityI would like a leader that will make the borders work. The reasons I want a functional border are: it supports the maintenance of the minimum wage, it increases public safety to know who is coming in, and, last but foremost, it is the humane thing to do. I believe in the words on the Statue of Liberty even though I know they were always aspirational, America has never fully lived up to that sentiment. Still, it’s the right thing to strive for as a people. To be the light at the end of the tunnel for victims of political violence. I think those people should come in first, even before economic migrants justifiably seeking a better life. I would like a leader who can lead us to a place where the border is safe, and where the countries now producing the migrants become societies that are sufficiently sustainable to stop or even reverse the flow. Empower Central Americans to go back, don’t force them, it only creates an abusive cycle. It’s like we have set up a Ninja Warrior obstacle course along the southern border and only the swift and fit make it in. That’s not right.

Abortion – Science matters to me because it’s the only legitimate path to objective reality. It is a process, not a place or a person or even a discipline, by itself. It is a process described and extended by Sir Francis Bacon in his book The Great Instauration, which I read in a graduate History class. Bacon was extending the work of early “scientists” like Braya, Galileo, Kepler, and Boyle. These men dragged us out of a world where truth was defined by the Church and by men who looked exclusively to the past for lessons. Pouring over Plato and Aristotle and ancient Greek writings they sought to take guidance from the scholars of history. Bacon argued rightly that truth can only be truly known by testing in the real world. If wood floats in the Atlantic, it will also float in the Indian Ocean and the assertion can be tested. By proposing a truth, or law, and then having other people test it, over and over again, most people will generally come to accept the results as objectively true and empirically proven. That is science, and it’s why we have drugs and air conditioning, and anesthesia. So. If science is something we can build on (and it is) then we should, as a people, try and act on facts that are proven and real and not make up or ignore them because they are challenging. That brings us to Abortion.

Science tells us without much doubt that what we call “life” starts early in a pregnancy. Abortion is the intentional taking of a life, so that is almost always wrong. To be clear, I personally am not in favor of humans ending human life on any level at any time ever. That goes for the Death Penalty too but I’ll come back to that. Not that I have made most feminists angry, I also want to talk about why our culture finds this issue so hard to deal with. Until the wide availability of birth control, women who wanted or needed to work “outside the home” were simply not allowed to do that. Relationships, both wanted and unwanted, produce babies necessarily and the mothers of children take care of them. What else is there to do? So, in a real way, birth control emancipated women and girls during my lifetime (I am 56) and the impact has been enormous. Women contribute in an unmeasurable way to the advancement of our race outside the home, in Congress and Space, and in the Operating and Board rooms. I am convinced we need their full engagement if we are to survive as a species. That means that unplanned children simply cannot be a part of the future. So if we have to protect women’s rights, and abortion is bad, what is the answer? My answer is to focus on reducing unwanted pregnancies and increasing access to morning-after pills. Whatever we can do to reduce aborting babies very far into pregnancy since science tells us they are alive. If abortion is necessary according to a doctor, for whatever reason, I am fine with that. If a woman is raped and feels that giving it up for adoption would be too traumatic, I am don’t think we should stand in the way of that. So, generally speaking on this subject, reducing abortions to zero would be my goal, as long as the kids that are adopted are given a chance to thrive.

Climate Change – See my view on Science-as-a-Process above. For a long time, I found the argument for manmade atmospheric warming a stretch. More troubling, it was being advanced by the far left who had long advocated for the reduction in fossil fuel use, big cars, meat, sprawl, coastal development, etc. Amazingly, I thought at the time, all of these things are connected to Climate Change. It’s like the left discovered a phenomenon that checked all their boxes at the same time. It smelled funny to me, and there was a scientist at UAH who was a friend of a friend and a major skeptic. I enjoyed his gadfly statements in the national media that included the “Huntsville, AL” byline. But, the data has stacked up and become impossible to ignore. Humans are almost certainly having a measurable impact on climate and we should take what steps we can to address it. The horse is “way out of the barn” on this one and it could very well be too late, given the Developing World’s activity on top of ours. Where science can find a solution to emitting less, or in recapturing what’s already out there, those are probably smart investments.

Income Inequality – A friend wrote that this is like gunpowder in the basement. A little is desirable, several tons and the place cannot be made safe. We have myriad social programs in the US that have tried to address this problem, something we call “generational poverty”. I was chairman of the board of a faith-based organization working to help people get ready for housing. At Triangle MLS, there are efforts underway through outreach, the Foundation, affiliation with programs like Landis, and programs that provide direct downpayment assistance. Ultimately, I believe solving income inequality is the Moon Shot of our time.