Choosing a Future

If there is one clear message that emerged from the just-concluded political party conventions, it is that, in November, Americans will choose not just between two sets of candidates, but between two very different visions of America and our future.

I’ve always been a fan of science fiction–not “space opera,” but explorations of where mankind might be headed, extrapolations of current trends that raise interesting, even profound, questions about the nature of humanity and society. So the opening of the most recent Star Trek movie prompted me to compare Gene Roddenberry’s vision to the portrayals of America and its future on display at the Republican and Democratic conventions.

Roddenberry’s creation has been remarkably durable: there have been several television series and movies, spanning a period of fifty years. There is a reason for that. His portrayal of a positive future and a mature humanity is immensely appealing.

On the starship’s bridge, diverse members of Earth’s population work amicably with a variety of representatives of other planets. There is respect for difference, for the right of crewmates from other cultures to live according to their beliefs, so long as they respect the Federation’s rules in return. That respect is incorporated in the Prime Directive, which forbids interference with other planetary cultures. (The Federation doesn’t engage in “nation building.”)

There is explicit respect for science, education, and intellectual achievement, and for mankind’s quest to learn—to “seek out” and “go where no one has gone before.”

There is recognition of the importance of a legal framework that safeguards the moral foundations of society and confers authority. But authority, in Roddenberry’s world, does not come from legal status. It is earned by demonstrated competence and superior performance, and is expressed with intelligence, maturity and empathy.

There could hardly be a more dramatic contrast to Roddenberry’s “kumbaya” vision and humanitarian values than the overwhelming fear and anger exhibited by Republicans in Cleveland.

At the Democratic convention, we got optimism and uplifting messages about America’s potential.

In Cleveland, we got name-calling and stereotyping; the values displayed by the GOP at its convention were the antithesis of those championed by Roddenberry.

Respect for science? The GOP not only rejected scientific consensus on climate change, a significant percentage want to replace the theory of evolution with creationism in public school science classes.

Respect for the rule of law? Trump has demonstrated a total lack of familiarity with the Constitution, and has championed policies that are patently unconstitutional. Meanwhile, convention delegates clearly supported Senate Republicans’ refusal to follow the Constitution and “advise and consent” to Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court nomination.

In Cleveland, in marked contrast to the multi-ethnic, multi-species bridge of the Enterprise, a crowd of overwhelmingly white, predominantly older delegates tried to mask the extreme divisions in their party by focusing on the one thing that they hope can unify them: fear and hatred of the Other. Hatred of Hillary Clinton, of Democrats, of Muslims, of immigrants, of LGBTQ Americans.

Throughout the GOP convention, Donald Trump displayed an understanding of “leadership”  very different from Roddenberry’s. Trump confuses authoritarianism with earned authority; he’s a “tough guy” who doesn’t bother to display mastery of –or even acquaintance with–the issues at hand, a thug who disdains restraint, nuance and expertise, who proposes to dominate by demanding, rather than earning, respect, and who responds to even the mildest criticism with childish name-calling in lieu of reasoned response.

Jean-Luc Picard he’s not.

At the Democratic convention, speaker after speaker argued for American possibility, and appealed to the “better angels of our nature.” One paragraph of President Obama’s superb speech, in particular, made me think of Roddenberry:

I see Americans of every party, every background, every faith who believe that we are stronger together, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, young, old, gay, straight, men, women, folks with disabilities, all pledging allegiance, under the same proud flag, to this big, bold country that we love.

Speakers at the Republican convention, in stark contrast, painted a picture of a dystopia in which our only option is to hunker down, arm ourselves against our fellow-citizens, and barricade America against the rest of the world.

In November, what we will really decide is which of these visions will shape our future.

52 thoughts on “Choosing a Future

  1. Thank You Prof K. As awful as Trump is, the Republicans just will not back away from him. That tells me they ALL need to be defeated soundly this fall. ALL of them.

  2. Amen, Thanks

    I see Americans of every party, every background, every faith who believe that we are stronger together, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, young, old, gay, straight, men, women, folks with disabilities, all pledging allegiance, under the same proud flag, to this big, bold country that we love.

  3. Sheila: “In November, what we will really decide is which of these visions will shape our future.”

    Only, if it gets that far. Hopefully, it will.

  4. Agree w patmcc. I expect the Republicans will conduct a bloody, scorched earth campaign of fear and hatred (ala Karl Rove) and unless they are soundly defeated, it will only encourage them to continue. You can already see it in the instant negative attack they launched against Evan Bayh. Bayh isn’t one of my personal favorites, but the Republicans have been reduced to only attacking the opponent. One can only conclude that they have nothing else to offer. I don’t harbor much hope that it will make a difference in backwater Indiana, but I think the contrast between the conventions was so striking that the Republicans have to feel some remorse at the opportunity they missed to engage a much larger part of the voters and simply focus on fear-mongering.

  5. patmcc and daleb,

    It’s encouraging to see that some of you are beginning to see “the writing on the wall.” Hopefully, more of you will do so before it’s too late.

    Etymology: based on a story in the Bible about Daniel, who reads the “handwriting on the wall” that predicts the end of the kingdom of Babylon

  6. Sheila compares our current political (primarily Trump) dilemma today with her favorite, “Star Trek”; I can see her comparison having watched the original series. My comparison goes into Stephen King novels; which I have read and reread since the mid 1970’s. I see us today as compared to “The Stand”; we will be “Choosing A Future” in November, the plague survivors in “The Stand” made their trek across the country gathering followers and ending in two camps, one good and one evil. For Trump IS the epitome of evil who has mesmerized his followers into believing they can rule this country but only by following him. Those who followed Mother Abigail for good, followed her advice by taking their stand together to defeat the opposition. “We Can Do It” “Don ‘t Boo – VOTE” “STRONGER TOGETHER” Following these slogans can guide us to “Choosing A Future” or those who continue what they believe to be supporting Bernie Sanders contrary to his decision, can separate us and lose the election leaving us with Trump and Pence at the helm.

    Joe on “Morning Joe” this morning is stressing the importance of high level Republicans distancing themselves from Trump – not the Republican party. Well; it is a little late for that but Joe also pointed this out.

    Trump wants to hit some of the DNC speakers, one in particular which he refused to name, my guess is Senator Cory Booker who was on fire that night. Trump’s racism was evidenced by his inability to tell one Black from another when Kareem Abdul Jabar introduced himself as Michael Jordan. Russian President Putin has now distanced himself from that sticky Trump inspired situation by telling the DNC and Trump to resolve their own E-mail problems.

    I have stated that I do not support Hillary Clinton but, as Joe so aptly put it regarding Republicans distancing themselves from Trump and not from the party of Lincoln; I will choose to HAVE a future by voting for the Democratic party by casting my vote for their choice of Hillary Clinton. Not wanting to wish my life away; I wish we could fast-forward to November 9th and have this damnable election behind us. Knowing is always better than not knowing; my hopes and prayers are with the Democratic party but…if Trump and Pence do win, we will know IF we have a future and what needs to be done to survive their destruction of the Constitution and America as we have known and fought for since it’s inception. Knowing is always better than not knowing; we will know whether to take time to cheer and then get to work together to ensure our future or arm ourselves with the weapons which best serve us…NOT guns but fighting to regain our civil and human rights via the system our forefathers provided so long ago.

  7. All I saw in the city of brotherly love was hatred, pandering, and handouts. Trump’s name was invoked in Philly more than twice as much as Clinton’s was in Cleveland. The democrat party has “progressed” from the party of slavery to the enslavement of entitlement and dependency. Free love has grown to free education and free health care. Free, free, free.

  8. JoAnn,

    “…..the plague survivors in “The Stand” made their trek across the country gathering followers and ending in two camps, one good and one evil. For Trump IS the epitome of evil who has mesmerized his followers into believing they can rule this country but only by following him. Those who followed Mother Abigail for good, followed her advice by taking their stand together to defeat the opposition. “We Can Do It” “Don ‘t Boo – VOTE”

    Am I right in assuming that you see yourself as one of the PLAGUE SURVIVORS in November?

    I don’t see myself surviving the PLAGUE. Nevertheless, I’ll be rooting for you. Good luck!

  9. JoAnn, did Joe Scarborough take any responsibility for having helped create the monster that is Trump the Presidential candidate?

    Bet not. They’re both sensationalist fear – mongering unpatriotic (as in not caring about the health of the country they exploit for wealth and status) pieces of garbage.


    A commenter on another site said, “The election [sic] was rigged, and nobody seems to care.” Correct or not, that attitude seems to be fairly widespread among the liberal rank-and-file.

    What looked like a slam-dunk a couple of months ago appears much less sure today, even with a convention that was as well-done and uplifting as any Democrat could imagine.

  10. Ken,

    “All I saw in the city of brotherly love was hatred, pandering, and handouts.”

    It’s about time. You’re now showing us who you really are. Thanks for being so honest.

  11. Ken Glass, I don’t expect you to understand this since you haven’t figured it out by now [which to me indicates willful ignorance] but the Democratic Party, as pushed to the left by Bernie Sanders, seeks to reorder the priorities of our federal government a bit, by spending less of our taxes subsidizing wealthy people and profitable mega-banks, corporations, etc., and spending more of our taxes on the things that benefit ordinary people, especially the working poor and the middle class. Just like, you know, every other First World country on the planet.

  12. While it’s pretty clear that the conservative movement in the US is staggering under the weight of failure to thrive, or really failure to accomplish anything worthwhile, the dent that they put in Democracy will outlast their influence. That costs us all.

    The “active ingredient” in Democracy is listening. Being open to negotiation. Looking for joint solutions. Strength in unity and compromise. Finding the common denominator. It may be slow, but truly Democratic solutions are based on the coming together of people committed to progress as more important than self interest.

    Our Democracy has been overexposed to my way or the highway. Inflexible positions. Extremism. The theme of Archie Bunker, Rush Limbaugh, and Roger Ailes for over three decades. It was on display at both national political conventions this year.

    While it may be cliche it is nevertheless accurate that strength comes from unity. We are weak separately and strong together.

    Also when our efforts are to divide, in order to conquer, an effective tool is lies. When our efforts are to unite the most effective tool is truth.

    We of course can’t imagine where the present course will lead. What we need is effective leadership to unite not divide. We need truth and not lies.

    I’m personally very comfortable with Hillary representing the spirit of unity and Donald the spirit of division.

  13. Is there anyone on this blog, whether in the U.S. or otherwise, who feels they are in a better position to give a THREAT ASSESSMENT on the possibility of RACIAL WARFARE in the U.S. than JoAnn? If so, how about speaking up now. I believe you have a duty to do so.

  14. One way to view the country today would be to consider what a family would be like raised in an environment like the one portrayed in Cleveland vs one raised in an environment as portrayed in Philadelphia.

    Ken obviously believes that kids raised to live as Trump does would be superior contributors to the world.

    I believe that if he’s right we raised our kids completely wrong but I much prefer to picture the world that they flourish in as our future.

  15. I heard more about patriotism, family, faith, religion, and loyalty from the DNC than I heard from the RNC. In fact, I don’t think I heard about ANY of those qualities from the RNC.

  16. I wonder what Huxley would think. We may be on the brink of a “Brave New World”.

  17. Marv, I’m not sure what your definition of “RACIAL WARFARE” is. To me it’s more instructive to use terms like racial tension.

    It’s clear Trump as any more than an entertainer would create power for himself by increasing stress and tension between segments of the population obviously including but not limited to racial.

    If you consider pulling on the ends of a string as an analogy; the string would transition from a stable to an unstable state suddenly and unpredictably and disastrously.

    Hillary is committed to reducing tension by increasing unity and common purpose and helping each other.

    It’s as simple as she’s trying to cure us and he’s trying to break us as a country.

  18. I’m very impressed that Ken Glass took the time to count the number of times Hillary’s name was mentioned at the Republican Convention and the number of times Trump’s name was mentioned at the Democratic Convention. I wish I’d done that. But quite frankly, I couldn’t seem to stay awake during the Republican Convention.

  19. I agree with the need to work together and find common ground and the most amazing thing demonstrated by this blog is the obstruction that most criticize about conservatives is even more prevalent in liberals. No compromise is not one sided. Free is not free. Crony capitalism is occurring with equal vigor and devastation as perpetrated by both sides of the fence. If we could elect the woman that Bill Clinton described, she would be too liberal, but not frightening. That woman does not exist. Hillary made partner when Bill became governor, Bill’s speaking fees doubled when Hillary became Secretary of State. Hillary worked tirelessly for the people in the Senate, sponsoring one substantive bill and 7 changing names of parks, etc. you are suspicious of the republicans in power as am I. Yet you are somehow blinded to the corruption and ineptness on the left. The longevity of this country does not rely on removal of one party from power, but on the public holding the ruling elites’ feet to the fire. You, like the fools on the right have allowed the ruling elite to use the sleight of hand to distract you from their corruption but keeping you focused on the “evil” across the aisle.

  20. Ken, conservatives have a choice. One approach would be to say, we were wrong. Investing in the future is critical. Unity is the source of strength. Lying to get your way as Rush and Roger made a fortune from for decades is just wrong. We aren’t superior we are equal. Trickle down doesn’t.

    Or they could say we were wrong but everyone who points that out is even wronger.

    I understand why you choose the latter. That’s a human condition called ego and we all suffer from it.

    What 2016 is about is recovery of democracy and as it progresses the GOP will continue down the slippery slope to oblivion rather than restore the non-conservatism that Rush and Roger and the Kochs stole from them.

    So be it. There’s plenty of diversity among dictate to maintain the two party system.

  21. It’s a one alarm fire when a politician says “you need power to impose what you want on others”.

    It’s a ten alarm fire when a politician says “give me the power to impose what you want on others”.

  22. Advice to Ken Glass: “Don’t boo, VOTE!”
    Thank our Lucky Stars and the Founders, the VOTE is the only power you and I have.
    I will happily cancel your vote on Election Day. I hope you will be happy to cancel mine.
    Now, would you and Trump please turn down the volume?
    Both of you stow your assault weapons!
    Why argue that Americans can’t have what Israelis have? To quote you: “Free education and free health care. Free, free, free” and partly backed by the U.S. Treasury, regularly like clockwork, and off-budget.

  23. We number something like 6,597,000 Indiana taxpayers and dependents in residence. About one-fourth are minors with status rights through adults and protections through parents, or public workers partially or solely. That’s it for records for everyone living now in households for the 92 counties’ polls. We do not choose social-emotional leaders for all future directions at all; that is an exaggeration for the DC workers’ only.

    Voting gives individuals 364 days to think about for the next Thanksgiving plans, or Resistance Day of indigenous reporters’ in western hemisphere countries never completely conquered nor extinguished even in the property titles for any records by Humans at all. Indiana voters have only 200 years of actual records to read — a drop in the bucket for an ordinary reading diploma at Vincennes, for example, for land transfers by monarchial subjects’ orders succeeding wars, battles, massacres.. 1492 to the present.

    Choices made in every other leadership position — especially in the reliable athletic and sports industries with fair rules for all of us in the country growing up with opportunities to handle all kinds of wheeled machines, power tools, motors…just to fashion uniforms and accessories for the little players then into the real property world for the same kinds of ball-watchers anywhere with rules and regulations that humans make up but respect as done, over, when the tickets are sold, the teams have met and gone again until the next meets.

    Plans may be made, but not for the leaders of the two parties’ this year at DC, only at Indianapolis. Will we tell everyone who goes to the polls that whatever choice each makes is right or wrong?

  24. Pete,

    “Marv, I’m not sure what your definition of “RACIAL WARFARE” is. To me it’s more instructive to use terms like racial tension.”

    I support you in most things. We need to be instructed on the truth. You’re not in a position to make the call. I would suggest that no one in the U.S. is better qualified than me to make the THREAT ASSESSMENT that we’re approaching inevitable RACIAL WARFARE. At this stage of the game to use the term”racial tension” is misleading and only draws everyone away from the REAL TRUTH that they no longer have the luxury of running away from. Our only chance for our future, as well as our family’s, is to face the truth, nothing less.

  25. Both sides have demonstrated the corrupting influence of vast amounts of money in the political arena. If the DNC hadn’t actively obstructed Sanders I think we would be in a clear fight between a fascist strong man and a democratic socialist. As it is we are given a choice between business as usual HRC at a time when the populace has lost confidence in the democratic process and a rebellious strong man. This is too close for comfort

  26. Republicans are caught up in the perfect storm of cynicism. They say don’t pay attention to anything either candidate says. He’s not as bad as he says and she’s not as good. So believe what you want to believe not in the absence of evidence but actually in spite of the evidence.

    Of course they believe the same about conservativism. Believe what you wish were true despite its track record of incessant failure.

    It is not possible to reason with cynics anymore than its possible to argue religion.

  27. Democrats – beginning with the Commander-in-Chief and all the way down to the “black-lives-matter” hijacked movement, are the most interested in perpetuating the fueling of racial tension. Only by continue to infuse blacks with their victim mentality: the-world-owes-me-because-several-generations-ago-blacks-were-slaves, is that the left, through handouts, self-entitlement programs, and robbing the working populace to give to the non-working populace, is that the votes to their candidates are secured.

  28. Martina, welcome back. Hope you have some solutions to, rather than cheers for, poverty.

    I think poverty sucks personally.

    I like the idea of everyone capable, motivated, educated, and available for work and business offering a choice of jobs for everyone.

    Making the poor poorer seems easy enough to do but no path to better.

  29. Pete,

    best way to drastically reduce poverty is to cut off all the self-entitlement programs, with the exception of assistance to the infirm. Leave charity to the voluntary donation of those who feel compelled by religious persuasion or by philanthropic conviction. If you want to eat, you must work. It is not my responsibility to support those who do not want to work. Those who, by no fault of their own, are incapable of supporting themselves due to illness or infirmity, I will gladly assist.

    Best way to keep a man down is to eliminate his need for work. Lack of purpose equals lack of advancement.

    Universal healthcare, that I do support.

  30. I would absolutely never have guessed that someday a candidate for President here could distinguish themselves from the competition by declaring simply, “I believe in science”.

  31. Martina. So you think unemployment is a myth? That there is a living wage job for every potential worker?

    What’s your evidence?

  32. 1) Stop importing. This applies to goods as well as illegal immigrants.
    2) Become self-sustainable. The US has the ability to produce everything.
    3) Eliminate self-entitlement programs, except assistance for the infirm.
    4) Deport all of those who are here illegally, and heftily fine those who employ them.
    5) #3 and #4 combined will guarantee that the parasites created by the “war on poverty” will have to work in order to survive AND that there will be plenty of jobs available.
    6) Provide universal free healthcare with monetary incentives for annual checkups and weight loss.

    You’re welcome. 🙂

  33. I think that your ideas describe what the world was like 50 – 100 years ago.

    I personally don’t think that many companies or workers would cheer about or benefit from loosing their overseas markets.

    Quaint thought though. Trumpence’s popularity absolutely depends on thinking like yours.

  34. Gail, I agree with your assessment. There was also the stark contrast between the amount of coverage the Trumpet received vs Bernie Sanders by the press. I came to think of CNN as the Clinton News NetWork and MSNBC as MSDNC. Harry Reid: “Sanders didn’t get a fair deal.” One more quote from Reid – “I knew ― everybody knew ― that this was not a fair deal. ”

    By quietly dropping a ban on direct donations from registered federal lobbyists and political action committees, the Democratic National Committee in February reopened the floodgates for corruption that Barack Obama had put in place in 2008.
    There are several interviews conducted at the convention one is: Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia offered a Willie Sutton justification for lifting the lobbying ban. “The lobbyists, that’s where the money is,” he said.

    Craig Holman, an elections financing expert at Public Citizen, said, “The implications of these changes are that we have opened up access to the parties and the conventions to just the very, very wealthy.”

  35. I disagree. I think the size of the companies would influence how they see it. Ask the small companies, the companies that benefit from a local market.

    Small government. Big independence.

    It is not that complicated. The self-appointed elite of experts wants to make it look complicated. While an autarky might be considered démodé by some, there are plenty of good examples of societies and micro-societies that have successfully established autarkies or similar systems.

    Quaint? Quite the opposite.

  36. Martina,

    “Today, complete economic autarkies are rare. A possible example of a current autarky is North Korea. However, even North Korea has extensive trade with the Russian Federation, the People’s Republic of China, Syria, Iran, Vietnam, and many countries in Europe and Africa. Another example is Bhutan which has, until recently, maintained an effective economic embargo against the outside world, and has been described as an autarky.”

    Are you thinking that we ought to emulate N Korea or Bhutan?

  37. Louie, the difference between Hillary’s and Bernie’s primary campaigns, as Bernie said, was that hers was successful and his not. Welcome to Democracy.

    Bernie’s campaign got virtually everything they expected in the DRC platform as well as huge political capital. We owe him and them a great deal for moving the country back to the middle of the road and he and they have been given a great deal of say.

    My way or the highway is unamerican, in fact it’s Trumpencian, and I think that you know that.

  38. Recently I have been reminded by friends and a radio interview of the work of George Lakoff, an emeritus professor at Berkeley and now the leader of a research institute whose speciality is cognitive linguistics, how speech is analyzed by our brain. His descriptions of the world views of Conservatives and Liberals as “Strict patriarch” as compared to “Nurturing parent” is fairly well known and very enlightening. We can have both functioning in our brains, but not at the same time. Add to this the fact that a large part of the analysis that our brains do is unconscious, that is not swayed by facts or reason.

    The stark difference in the two futures that you have observed and described and their sources can be understood clearly when you look at Lakoff’s piece on “Understand Trump”

  39. I can chart my presidential voting behaviors and my reasons for those votes from the 1960’s, even the stupid reasons I voted for a variety of presidential candidates. For whatever reasons, I’ve never been one to vote for a single party.

    *JFK – 1960 (way too young to vote but not too young to campaign)

    *LBJ – 1964 (first time to vote in a presidential election, voted for a crude boorish man because he promised to carry on JFK’s civil rights policies and did)

    *Humphrey – 1968

    *McGovern – 1972

    *Carter – 1976 (loved the idea he was a man from the South and was a Navy man – one of those stupid reasons for voting born from living in coastal Virginia and in a huge Navy community)

    *Reagan – 1980 (after paying a 19% home mortgage loan on our first home and facing potential bankruptcy, we figured Reagan could not possibly do worse, and he didn’t)

    *Reagan – 1984 (why mess with our improved community and personal prosperity)

    *George H W Bush – 1988 (solid establishment man, again with strong presence in a large Navy community via his being a former Navy pilot stationed at NAS Oceana in Virginia Beach and by his thousand points of light speech.)

    *Bill Clinton – 1992 (lined up around our Oceanfront voting precinct in Virginia Beach, waited in line for 4+ hours to cast our votes for Bill Clinton, Baby Boomers in action, identifying with everything he said)

    *Bill Clinton – 1996 (We ‘Baby Boomers’ lined up again around our Virginia voting precincts, waiting in line to cast our votes for Bill, and I have no regrets for my vote at that time.)

    *Al Gore – 2000 (wasted a perfectly good vote on a Nashville, Tennessee Trust Fund baby, for sure)

    *John Kerry – 2004 (another of my wasted votes on a Trust Fund dude)

    * woulda voted for Hilary Clinton – 2008

    *woulda voted for Hilary Clinton – 2012

    *shelf life expired for voting Hilary Clinton – 2016

  40. How Trump can call women “pigs” and then ask them to vote for him is beyond comprehension. Why do we collectively let him get by with such gross insults to more than half of the electorate? I can tell you this – that if I were walking down the street with my wife and he approached us from the other direction and called my wife a pig he would find his teeth down his throat. Why, in view of such unbelievable language, can any woman, Republican or Democrat or Independent, vote for this insulter-in-chief? Maybe this guy doesn’t have a screw loose; maybe he just hates women, or perhaps both. Whatever, this bullying Russian-loving woman hating (con man per Bloomberg) is not by the stretch of anyone’s imagination a suitable candidate for president (or village council). He needs a shrink not a vote.

  41. Gerald,

    You’re an attorney. As you know, it only takes the sworn affidavits of just two psychiatrists to have someone picked up for being either a threat to themselves or a THREAT TO OTHERS.

    Someone needs to initiate the proper action against this sociopath in order to save our Republic or more. Don’t you think?

    As I stated previously, he’s suffering from early onset schizophrenia just like my father.
    That’s why he is such a dangerous sociopath. Potentially, one of the most dangerous men in history.

  42. How about a national campaign to have Donald Trump, Republican candidate for President, temporarily committed to an accredited mental facility for psychiatric examination? If we fail to do that, maybe we should all be committed.

  43. I hope you’ll know that I’m not joking. It might be our last hope before he TOTALLY contaminates the socio/political environment in the U.S.

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