20 Science Questions
that U.S. presidential candidates were asked in 2016
I've attended a few peaceful protests, rallies of large groups of people who drove many miles to join their voices together in support for or against a united message.
I added my voice to the group's chants which sometimes included a core message that "This is what Democracy looks like."
I added my voice at the time but I was also looking around and thinking that it also looked like what a crowd of angry people looks like, at least in comparison to what a community City Hall meeting looks like with timed comments from concerned citizens each taking a turn to share their opinions with the elected officials.
And the results of peaceful protests seemed to be limited also. Instead of achieving the stated goals it seemed that protests simply led to more laws being made to outlaw and punish protests. It was very inspiring to be part of a crowd of people who all cared very much about promoting change or protecting our nation's constitutional rights but the controlled media and government responses emphasized the potential danger and differences that might be represented by protesters and it did seem to scare average voters more than increase their support of whatever cause was that was being protested - or at least it may have increased support among some voters while also increasing resistance among other voters.
Making free speech and the right to peacefully gather something to fear is a step backward for a democracy. Environmental protests have delayed construction projects long enough to get necessary legal or community support to stop environmentally destructive construction in some cases. Protests are an important part of democracy but they are not the only part of democracy and it seems unfair that our environmental safety is in the hands of citizens willing to spend their time protesting potentially unsafe business practices. Poorer communities do tend to have worse industry pollution than richer communities making protection of the environment a civil rights issue.
Instead of chanting about what democracy looks like it seems more helpful to consider what oligarchy looks like; which may be like smaller groups of people working together to find and fund candidates, who are mainstream enough to actually win elections, and who then are in a position to help make laws which affect the larger group. Take the energy of a protest home and join together to keep working towards change at the local level and supporting those working towards change at state and federal levels.
And question what you read in mainstream media, it may not be sharing all sides of a story equally. Suppression of news tends to go along with suppression of free speech and other rights of citizens in nations with more authoritarian styles of government.
Peaceful protests have been found to lead to more successful or partially successful outcomes than violent actions. Read more:
A discussion of the value of mentors and role models and differences between the two:
In an Equal Opportunity country we all should have equal opportunities but in the real world our basic human nature also plays a strong role - denying that simply denies reality.
If groups of concerned citizens want to work towards change in an oligarchy then taking a long view and helping find and fund candidates at the community and state level is a first step, and then helping support some of those candidates win at the federal level is the next step. Trusting rich business owners to make laws that protect all citizens is likely to backfire because the goals of a government are not the same as those of a business.
The United States is no longer considered a full democracy according to a recent comparison of nations. It has been downgraded to a 'flawed democracy:'
My candidacy was always unrealistic because I am not similar enough to the majority to be very electable. Winning candidates are usually similar enough to the majority to help voters feel comfortable instead of uncomfortable regarding their unspoken instincts. I am not suggesting all candidates need to be white people though, diversity of our elected officials is important, and winning candidates do include some diversity of ethnic background, gender, religion and physical ability. What winning candidates do tend to have in common is a history of being effective in business and community roles.
The unflinching support of a candidate's family is also important. Campaigns are stressful and negative rumors, based on truth or on fiction, are frequently created and repeated endlessly, and whether truth or fiction, if something is repeated often enough, fiction can still upset a family's peace of mind and their peace and quiet.
Political candidates who plan ahead work on building their resume and network of helpful connections during high school and college and during their early years of working.
A candidate who plans ahead wouldn't risk saying offensive statements when they might be recorded; or making silly videos to post online, because they wouldn't want the video to surface later in their life. A funny podcast series made during your twenties might give political opponents enough negative commercial campaign fodder to end your hopes at the local level where experience is gained that makes a federal campaign more likely to succeed.
We need more diversity in our elected officials and that means we need more diversity in our high school and college and local elected officials because that is where experience is gained and valuable business and political connections are made.
I can say whatever I want about supporting public health but if a person's instincts suggest I'm very different than them, then it doesn't make much difference what I say because they are likely not listening. It can also make people less likely to believe information if they don't believe in the speaker sharing the information. To me however, the topic of effective health care seemed important enough for me to bring it up politically even though my candidacy as an individual was unlikely to be a winning candidacy. In my experience, someone has to be the first to open a difficult topic so that others may then speak.
A quote regarding women in politics:
"There are a couple of different challenges to getting women into these high-level political offices," says Kathleen Benson, a research associate for AAUW and a coauthor of Barriers and Bias: The Status of Women in Leadership, a research report published by AAUW in March 2016. "There aren't women entering the political pipeline, whether by being involved in their local political party or even running for local or state legislatures. So the likelihood of advancing to a higher-level political career is low."
So finding and funding electable candidates may mean helping high school and college students learn more about just what it takes to build a political career through building a lifestyle and habits that an effective political candidate ideally would have mastered before they "choose" to run for a competitive elected position.
If not me, then you?
If not you, then who?
Since getting more involved in politics I've learned to double check facts and quotes. Were those lines something that I just wrote? Or were those lines something that I had heard before and I just paraphrased a quote from memory?
The speed and amount of information available online has changed the world in many ways. Thanks to the search engine I found that I had probably heard the lines before and there were several attributions and a couple variations of the famous quote.
So the answer is no - the lines were not completely original. Although my version was not found by the search engine, I probably had heard the lines before and was paraphrasing this version of the quote:
“If not us, then who?
If not now, then when?”
― John E. Lewis [goodreads.com]
Those words was also spoken by Emma Watson in a speech to the United Nations, however she did not mention that it was a quote:
Did Emma Watson plagiarize another writer or did she write the lines herself without realizing that she may have seen them before? Would anyone care? Probably not for a movie actor giving a speech to the United Nations but possibly in a contested political campaign. Hints of something slightly negative spread repeatedly can be damaging.
More recently, Emma Watson was inaccurately given credit for the quote by someone who is currently active in politics and whose error was caught by media sources, so people do care and do check - and which reaffirms the need to double check the source and accuracy of facts and quotes in our modern world of easily accessed information.
The original source of the quote is thought to be Hillel the Elder:
“If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am only for myself, what am I?
If not now, when?”
- Hillel the Elder
A simple way to attribute a quote with an unclear source in a speech might be to mention that it is a famous quote, or a familiar quote, or a favourite saying and then share the quote without mentioning the name - anyone who cared could then look it up for themselves having been given fair warning that it was a commonly known expression.
Now is the time, and we all need to be for ourselves, and for each other, and for the planet, as we are all connected and share our air and water, and other natural resources. Global reserves of usable phosphorus are running out - but is that a topic we see in the news?*
If we are to have a smaller government, then we are in need of a larger citizenship and more self regulating, responsible business owners.
It can be less expensive in the long run to learn and incorporate safer business practices, for use in the present, in order to support a healthier staff and community in the future.
Someone has to be able to afford the products and services that our businesses provide and to be healthy enough to be able to enjoy them.
The "Bumpersticker" is a favourite of mine because it represents a basic civil right, our freedom of speech. Here we can write what we want on a sticker and stick it to the bumper of our cars. Not everyone in the world lives in an area where that is a right.
*Some additional food for thought:
Reducing use of phosphorus containing fertilizers, now, could help reduce acidic fertilizer run-off from adding to ocean acidity and it could save money for the farmer while conserving the limited supply of phosphorus. Looking for solutions to business problems that also help protect the planet often can be cost effective.
More on this topic is included in the 20 Science Questions for the Presidential candidates, which I answered, see the Ocean Health tab or click: [http://www.jenniferdepew.com/ocean-health.html]
In a democracy, in a free country, we expect to have a right to free speech, the right to share our opinions.
Sometimes that right is expressed on bumper-stickers or on lawn signs that proclaim which political candidate the homeowner supports in a current political election.
Sometimes the right to free expression is taken to mean peaceful protests of large groups of citizens rallying together in support of a group message.
Is this what Democracy looks like?