WAKE THE FUCK UP!

David and Shadra Bruce

Have you ever gone to the circus where they have those fun house mirrors? You know, the kind you stand in front of and it distorts your body all out of proportion. Right now, the Republican Party is as distorted as an image in a fun house mirror.

The leaders of the Republican party no longer represent standard Republican values and instead have been completely bought and paid for by wealthy corporations and SuperPacs who wield their money like swords, striking down any who would stand in the way of their greed.

2012-repugsWhile they tout small government, state rights, and the constitution, they pervert the foundation upon which this country was founded in order to protect their power base, seeing everyone as a disposable and consumable resource to be used to further their profits. This is not the Republican party of 1960; this is not the Republican Party of the 1970s, this is not the Republican Party of the 1980s.

This is the Republican Party of hate, war mongering, willfully lying, wantonly misrepresenting, hidden agendas, racism, and backwards thinking. We can’t help but wonder how nearly half the country can still be blindly faithful to this distorted version of what was once the party that championed the protection of the poor, the marginalized, and even the environment.

Samuel L. Jackson’s tongue-in-cheek story hour has a message, and while it’s a little rough around the edges for those who cringe at foul language, it is time to WAKE THE FUCK UP.

Through Which Lenses Do You See This Small World?

by Shadra L. Bruce

ethicalrevolutionist_thelensthroughwhichyouseetheworldWhen I wake up each morning, I am blind until I grope for my glasses and get them on my face. Then everything sharpens into focus. In much the same manner, the way we look at the world around us is skewed by the lenses we wear to see it. If our lenses are colored with personal history, religion, or indoctrinated culture, it is impossible to see things clearly…we see them through thick lenses that skew reality.

None of us can be perfectly free from the skew of our personal lenses; we all have prejudice or bias. I have a very personal bias that I have a difficult time overcoming regarding Mormons. Personal experience has colored my perception; my father’s family is Mormon, but my father is not. He was at certain points in life quite vocal about his rejection of the faith, and my mother  even more so.

Then we moved to Idaho.

For those who believe Utah is the Mormon capital of the world, I truly believe that Idaho (at least in the 1980s when I was in school) was worse. The first question I was asked as a new and frightened 5th-grader at the elementary school I was enrolled in was, “What Ward are you in?”

I didn’t know what a Ward was, which of course made it clear that I was not Mormon. Being non-Mormon in Idaho in the ’80s was in many ways a hellish experience. Non-Mormons were often ostracized, not just by the students but by the Mormon teachers and counselors. We were a tiny minority.

My experience going to school in a predominantly Mormon society has colored my perspective. It’s a lens I have a difficult time shedding, even though many of my own Mormon family members have shown that it is not always that way. My uncle and my grandma are devout Mormons. My uncle has served as a Bishop and as a youth leader. He is strong in his faith, yet he never judges me or my family for our different beliefs; he welcomes us into his home; he treats my children with love.

Does my experience with Mormons color my view of Mitt Romney? I’m sure it does, and probably unfairly so. I wish I could peel off that particular lens to have a clearer view of the man and his potential as a leader. I am working to do that, and recognize in hindsight the many Mormon kids I went to school with who were nothing but kind and friendly.

But I also realize that the color of Obama’s skin has created a lens through which many see him as well, and I wish that they, too, could remove that lens and see him without it.

Our country, it seems, is confined by the lenses through which we see the world. None of us have been willing to look with open and clear eyes at the issues, recognize the need for compromise, and do what is best for the country as a whole. Whether liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, Christian or Muslim, or something else entirely, we all need to take a step back, remove our respective lenses and see the commonality among us. Regardless of our individual paradigms, we are all parents who care about our kids, kids who love our parents, sisters and brothers and aunts and uncles, and above all HUMAN BEINGS.

Disney has been warning us for decades: “It’s a SMALL world.” And the only way we’re going to get along in it is by making the choice to be not just tolerant of our differences but to embrace the diversity that makes all of us stronger.

Advertising May Work for Politicians but Politicians Aren’t Working for Us

by David T. Bruce

ethical-revolutionist-political-adsAdvertising works. Companies that want to remain relevant and profitable know this. They rely on the power of advertising. Large sums of money are invested to bring products to the attention of consumers; the level of advertising dollars spent purchasing mere seconds of time during a Super Bowl broadcast is phenomenal. As consumers, we are often impulse buyers.

We want to have what we believe are the finest and the most modern products, and we are quick to believe advertising claims and react to advertising campaigns by forking over cash for the latest must-haves.

The recent success of the Roku streaming player can be directly attributed to advertising. Sales of Roku players increased 25% in those markets in which the advertising campaign was launched. Radio and billboard advertising resulted in three times as much profit than the previous year. Advertising works.

As a quick-service (fast-food) restaurant manager, I witnessed the power of advertising. Radio and television ad campaigns regularly increased new product sales and overall sales. The ebb and flow of customer visits to the restaurant paralleled the beginning and ending of ad campaigns. Advertising works.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker crushed recall efforts that would have removed him from office. There is justifiable evidence illustrating that a considerable amount of out-of-state funding gave Walker the advantage over Barrett, as a result of “wall-to-wall television ads,” afforded by the significant flood of campaign funds. Advertising works.

Companies and politicians alike inundate consumers with media campaigns that suffocate, if not remove, the competition. That is their job.

As consumers, we have a job too.

Our job as consumers is to educate ourselves, check the facts and demand accountability. We do not have to accept what is put before us simply because one person or group has more money to promote their product or politics and squash the competition.

The golden arches of McDonald’s restaurant are said to be more familiar to the global consumer than the Christian cross. McDonald’s is undeniably a powerful force in the food industry; however, this does not mean that their product is necessarily good for the consumer. Even as they promote healthy choices, personal evidence suggests that what is perceived by the consumer is not reality.

Our family decided to grab lunch at a McDonald’s restaurant during one of our museum day-trips. In the effort to make a healthy choice, my wife and I ordered grilled chicken sandwiches with no mayonnaise. We had to wait several minutes for fresh chicken to be available, but because this can mean fresher product, we were patient. The chicken that was ultimately served to us, however, appeared undercooked and mushy. When we shared our concern with the manager, we were told that the chicken was consistent with what was ordinarily served and that the consistency was a result of the chicken being cooked in butter. The notion that a product advertised as healthy was handled in such a way that the end result was anything but healthy.

Recent figures show that Republican candidate for President Mitt Romney raised $17 million more in May than did President Obama. The Republican National Committee Chairman has been quoted as saying: “Our strong fundraising is a sign that Americans are tired of President Obama’s broken promises and want a change of direction in the White House.”

On the contrary, the strong fundraising and associated strength in advertising is a sign that the American consumer in general is characteristically buying what the Republican party is selling, simply because their coffers are potentially fuller than those of the competition.

American consumers are American voters. We must be sure that the advertised product from either Party represents reality. We must be sure that we make a healthy choice, and we must be sure that the choice we make has no hidden fillers or fats. Mitt Romney is not the better choice simply because he has more money to spread his message of hope or change from one coastline to the other.

Money and rhetoric are not substance. The proof is in the reality of the advertising claims. Mr. Romney may be the better choice. Roku may be a fabulous streaming player. A grilled chicken may have been the better choice. But these claims are not reality simply because their promoters have seemingly unlimited funds to spread their message.

It is just as likely that they are spreading something else, and voters as consumers must take the time to educate themselves and become conscious of what product our elected officials are selling and whether or not what they have to offer our nation is good for us.

If We Don’t Invest in Education, We Pay for Prisons

by David T. Bruce

Image courtesy of the NAACP; please click on the image to sign the NAACP petition to restore education funding
Image courtesy of the NAACP; please click on the image to sign the NAACP petition to restore education funding

Rick Santorum, as have many (if not most or all) Republican presidential candidates and elected officials, has strong opinions regarding the benefits of public education and higher education and the role of the federal government in the preservation and support of these institutions.  In particular, Santorum’s 2005 critique of the public schools in America continues to illustrate how the most economically and politically affluent citizens of this country are grossly ignorant of what it means to be a member of the lower- and middle-class in the United States.

Home schooling may certainly have benefits over a public school education, but a majority of Americans do not have the resources to effectively implement a home-school curriculum.  Public education services the majority, and indeed, public education needs an overhaul.  This does not mean, however, that our federal government should wash its hands of public education, leaving states to their own devices as they would like to do with medical programs.  If our states are truly united, then our education system should be united, a program implemented that provides uniform education to all students, not merely to those who live with families who can afford the very best education.

Santorum argues that the environment in which a uniform education is afforded provides an unrealistic image of “what life is like.”  I am unsure of what frame of reference Mr. Santorum has in regards to public education and “what life is like” for the majority of Americans, but many public schools are those in which various socioeconomic groups are represented, and few of them will ever realize “what life is like” for Santorum.

Over 1.2 million students drop out of school every year, according to research data provided by The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.  Of those students, approximately half of them are African-American and Latino students.  This report illustrates what life is like for the 90% of American children who rely on public education, while their government leaders suggest that less intervention by the federal government is mandated.

Mr. Santorum speaks as poorly of higher education in America, citing the perceived rejection of religious faith by students who go into college.  Santorum and all of our state and federal representatives should be more concerned about the growing lack of faith in our leaders, our government, and in the promise that our nation will provide for the general welfare of its citizens.  Our federal government rarely wants to provide for anything or involve themselves in any program that involves spending money on its citizens, and our elected representatives endeavor to convince us that fending for ourselves is for our own good.

Our government seeks to cut federal spending on education, again placing the fiscal burden on individual states and citizens who are already strapped for cash.  The burden to our country can also be measured in collective dollars and cents, as research shows that among other detriments to society, “dropouts from the class of 2007 will cost our nations more than $300 billion dollars in lost wages, lost taxes and lost productivity.”  Money not spent on public schools and education will ultimately be spent on prisons and incarceration.

Our government can find certainly find the money (in excess of $700 billion) to bail out the banking and automobile industries for fear of how the foundation of our country and our economy would be affected by the collapse of those industries, but our government cannot find the money to bail out an industry that is shown to directly impact the success or failure of our nation today and for years to come?

Money does talk, and the actions (or inactions) or our government have demonstrated where our elected officials place their priorities.