I was standing in a hospital room in New Jersey on November 17, 2011 at 8 P.M. Earlier that day I got the call from my mother. “It’s time and you need to get home right away.” My world came to a stop and the wind was taken out of my chest when I heard those words. After a minute I got my breath back, and quickly packed up my bag. I ran out of the building to my car. The four hour drive home was silent but for the torrential downpour outside, and the emotional freefall inside my head.

My father lost a three-month battle with necrotizing pancreatitis and I said goodbye to him for the final time. The following days and weeks were a blur, but a deep sadness coupled with an anger I had never felt before consumed me.

I had a fury and bitterness in me at God, and the world, for a situation I perceived to be unfair. This was my dad. The man taught me how to be a man. The memories played through my head like a film. All of my wrestling matches he was in the stands for. Every football game we attended together. Then all the memories we would never get to make. He would never see me graduate college, get married, or have a family. I felt robbed.

I was also angry with myself. I could’ve been a better son. I could’ve been there more for him while he was sick. I regretted every call of his I forwarded to voicemail, because I was just too “busy”. All of the memories I never made with him because I had better plans, pierced me with guilt and shame.

These wounds callused into a cold edge of personality. I had no healthy way to process the hurt I went through. My ego didn’t allow me to be vulnerable and ask for help. Instead, I expressed that pain as anger. I took it out on the people who were closest to me because I had to keep them at a distance. If they got too close, I would have to open up.

At some point the weight of these feelings becomes too great to bear and we find ourselves at a crossroads. Either deal with them or let them continue to corrode our relationships and life.

I had to find ways to process these feelings. I found someone I could talk to about them. I got honest and shared what I felt. Then I found healthy ways to process pain and anger. I began writing. A lot. I wrote short stories, poetry, and political articles. Through writing I can express myself succinctly and potently, especially through the medium of poetry.

the switch that’s flipped

to a sight of pure red

something in the brain ignites

a dynamite charge on the supply line bridge.

blankets of tension

consume me,

fight

or

flight

responses trigger

a trillion body cells

all fall into position.

dominoes, one by one,

preparing for war

like a trillion

roman legions.

all at once they release

and fire

50,000 volts

of electricity

through my body.

a dam holding back a lifetime

of pain, planned responses,

predictable outcomes

release once more,

and when choppy waters

finally yield a calm sea,

I again have lost.

all I have done

after rebuilding the dam

is added more water

til’ next time it breaks.

I was unable to be free or have deep meaningful connections because I was carrying the pain and anger of the past into my present. I became incredibly self-centered and egocentric. I felt justified in the hurtful manner I treated others as a result of my pain.

It was only through identification, introspection, and a conscious effort to act differently, that I was able to deal with anger in a healthy way.

The first step to solving any problem is identification. If I don’t know what the problem is, I don’t stand a chance at solving it. I had to be honest with myself and look behind the doors that I wanted to keep closed. The truth is usually found behind those doors. The path I took seeking that truth involved putting pen to paper and writing an emotional inventory. In that inventory I saw how my anger, guilt, and shame manifested itself in my relationships with others, and myself. I saw a clear picture of how I could’ve acted differently, and with clear sight of my wrongs, I made a list of people I owed an apology to.

After I cleared those cobwebs, I need to change. That change, for me, begins by adding a pause between my thoughts and actions. Instead of reacting impulsively I can respond thoughtfully. Or not respond at all. I’ve avoided more battles by keeping my mouth shut than I’ll ever be able to count. Everyone has their own ways of dealing with anger. Some people take a pause and others meditate. Transferring that anger into a constructive process like writing or exercise also works for me. The point is to find what works for you.

Like any other change, it takes practice. Some days are better than others. I feel like I make great strides in progress, then something will occur that makes me wonder if I’ve made any progress at all. But that is the nature of change itself and while I’ve come a long way, I still have a long way to go.

I can’t recall the exact moment my perspective started to change, but others recognized it in me long before I recognized it in myself. I was no longer angry with God or the world. I realized that this was not something that happened to me, but rather a stage in life’s journey I was going through. Relationships with friends and family improved dramatically as I tried to contribute more to them, than I took. Most importantly the relationship with myself was taken to a new level I didn’t even think was possible before. I became grateful for all that I have in my life. Pain is the launch pad for growth, and what I have found on the other side of pain, and anger, is peace.

Tips For Creating Permanent Change

I try to avoid New Year’s resolutions, as I have become cynical and weary of the “new year, new me” commitments that quickly get picked off as we near halfway through January. I partially blame social media for this phenomenon, as the New Years resolution post tends to be an act of attention seeking as opposed to a concrete way to keep oneself accountable.

One of the most profound changes a person can make, which is certainly true in my life, is the ability to change my body through exercise. I can stand in front of a mirror and in a few weeks literally see my body change right in front of my eyes. That fact alone, putting the unseen physical and mental health benefits aside, makes exercise the most beneficial tool for change as it is one of the few tools that allow me to visually observe and actually measure the changes that are occurring.

My first tip: Don’t tell anyone your fitness resolution. It’s for you anyway. That half hour of cardio, or that spin class isn’t going to get anyone else in shape but you. It has also been psychologically proven that people have better chances of following through with their changes when they don’t announce it to anyone.

A good friend of mine quit smoking about a year ago. I had no idea he quit until someone asked him if he wanted a smoke, to which he replied, “Nope, I’m good.” That was it, no proclamations or long-winded answers. It took me a couple weeks to catch on, and when I asked him he told me the thought process behind it. By telling others your plans for changing, your brain provides a false sense of achievement because you have announced it as a fact. It has been almost a year and he hasn’t had a smoke since.

Second, why not make it a daily resolution instead of a yearly one? An entire year committed to anything, especially a change different from your norm can be quite daunting. It can seem too big a task, and in my experience in making resolutions, it didn’t take more than a couple weeks to start thinking “There’s no way I am going to make it a year, so I might as well just call it quits now.” That’s a failing mindset. Instead, a daily resolution is a much easier bite to manage. It reinforces a successful mindset because each day you exercise, you fulfill your daily commitment to yourself.

Finally, take it easy on yourself. Change isn’t easy. The fact you’ve committed yourself to changing your lifestyle is an accomplishment in itself. We all get off our beam. Life gets busy, unexpected things happen, but that doesn’t mean we have to give up. The beam is always there.

I’ll call myself out and say I am off the beam. I recently moved (down the street, but a move nonetheless). It was stressful, all of my stuff is in boxes and it seems like I have a million things to do. I know the beam is there; I have the experience of getting in the daily rhythm of working out and eating healthy. I know I feel better mentally and physically when I do those things. But the last few weeks were a little hectic, my routine was thrown off, and I couldn’t exercise or eat like I normally would, and guess what? That’s ok. Things have calmed down, and I can now focus my attention back on my routine.

Change is never an easy process. It’s ugly and messy. We take three steps forward then two back. Sometimes it hurts or we second-guess ourselves. But if we stick with it, eventually something clicks… then another thing… and another. Before we know it we hit a stride and get into the type of rhythm where it starts to come easily.

Make a commitment to accomplish your goal today. If you are one of the many who have already tossed your New Years resolution, pick it back up! Quietly. Your resolution is yours, not anyone else’s.

Transformation is an inherent human desire that motivates us to change whatever comfortable norm we have become acclimated to. We constantly strive to reinvent ourselves and better ourselves and are always in a constant state of change. What can seem like an abstract discussion of philosophical thought takes shape in our daily lives in many unsuspecting ways. We make New Years resolutions, switch careers, and make decisions to eat healthy or go green. What more are these than manifestations of our human desire to transform and evolve into better men or women?

Automation: The Real Killer of American Jobs – Part 2.

Part 2 of a 2 part series for the Good Men Project.

In Part 1 I stated that the real job killer of American manufacturing is robots, not the Chinese or Mexicans. Manufacturing is a good starting point to look at the impact of technology because manufacturing accounts for 12.5% of total U.S. GDP and nearly 9% of U.S. employment according to the most recent report from the Economic Policy Institute.

As innovation in automation and technology continue to develop, robotics will become cheaper, artificial intelligence will improve, and more sectors of our economy will experience similar transformations to those in manufacturing. A well-cited study from Oxford University analyzed how technology will affect the future of employment. The study found that 47% of all U.S. employment is at risk of being replaced due to technology.

Construction and Transportation are two of the largest industries that could be the next dominoes to fall to automation. Construction employs over 2 million Americans, while transportation employs 3 million. Both of these industries employ over 90% male workers and provide above average wages for workers without degrees or specific trade skills.

Uber’s self-driving freight truck and the Hadrian robotics system are two examples of recent technological leaps in transportation and construction. Far from just science fiction concepts, Uber and Fastbrick Robotics, manufacturer of the Hadrian, have already unveiled their self-driving semi truck and brick laying robot and plan to release them into the work force as early as this year.

A follow up Oxford University study showed which U.S. cities would be most and least impacted by automation. Out of the 11 cities that will be most affected by automation 7 were in rust belt states while out of the 11 to be least affected 8 were in Eastern or Western coastal states. It also stated that North America has the most to gain from automation, while China has the most to lose. Technology may entice companies to move factories back home, but that does not necessarily mean jobs for humans will follow.

While Trump pandered to the regions of the country most vulnerable to the changing economic landscape, I have yet to hear Trump put forth actual, tangible solutions to the difficulties technology has created. I have not heard anything more than grandiose, abstract claims about bringing jobs back to American shores.

What American workers need are policies that allow them to better compete in a changing global economy.

Where are the calls for job retraining programs for those workers replaced by technology? Better yet, will Trump protect workers, wages and unions? He recently nominated Andrew Puzder for labor secretary. Puzder is a fast food executive who has been outspoken against raising the minimum wage, and in March told Business Insider that he was actively investing in automation technology for the restaurant industry. That is a position contrary to the message of creating, and I fear the nomination will leave workers with fewer resources and advocates at the national level.

One of the safest ways to raise the quality of life and qualifications of the workforce is to invest in education. While automation is inevitable, humans will still need to research, develop, design, and manage those machines. Jobs will certainly be created by technology. Investment in all levels of education, making college affordable for more Americans, and investing in job retraining programs are policies that benefit everyone, and possibly the only way Trump can deliver on his campaign promise.

His message sounded good on the campaign trail, but it is not entirely practical or possible. What the working class people, the citizens in the rust belt, and all of America need to hear are Trump’s plans for investing in the future of the American work force and how he will protect workers and wages.

Automation: The Real Job Killer of American Manufacturing.

Part 1 of a 2 part series for the Good Men Project.

I am an optimistic believer in the possibility of an America which can move forward unified, despite the differences we have in race, class, education, the list goes on ad infinitum. But first, I need to try to understand the people who I did not agree with on Election Day. This section of the population I may have little in common with on a core issue that does not directly affect me. A healthy future depends on how well we try to understand one another regardless of our differences.

In this two part series I set out to explore job loss in the manufacturing industry; an industry which once provided good jobs with decent pay to many of the working class men in the rust belt and southern regions of the United States. A great deal of time and effort was devoted to this issue on the campaign trail and the debate became a hot button issue.

Like many other baffled Americans, I was fascinated with the passion and adoration Trump supporters had for him. Many of these supporters were white, working class males from the rust belt and southern states, a large and specific section of the population that feel forgotten by Washington D.C.

While the exit polls continued to roll out it didn’t take long after November 8th to figure out why this specific demographic had supported Trump with intensity and fervor. Trump’s message on the campaign trail and the lines of people who came out in droves to vote for him began to align as the whole picture came into focus.

Donald Trump’s campaign was built on the foundation of statements that were emotionally charging rather than factually accurate. One of his earliest claims that remain part of the bedrock of his platform is that China and Mexico are responsible for the massive hemorrhaging of U.S. manufacturing jobs. He claims that U.S. companies have opted out of the American labor force and have moved their plants overseas to take advantage of cheap labor.

Like much of what Trump says, this statement does not tell the complete story, nor is it beneficial to the millions of working class men once employed in manufacturing. On the contrary it serves as a war drum beat to rally support behind his agenda.

The real job killer of American manufacturing is automation. Robots, not the Chinese or Mexicans, are responsible for the shrinking of manufacturing jobs. These jobs are mostly in male dominated industries and were once a way for people who were not skilled workers or college educated to make a decent living with healthcare and benefits.

In the manufacturing industry, which has been decimated by automation, men hold 73% of factory jobs. In April of 2016 the Congressional Research Service, whose research influences many of the bills that pass through the Legislature, published their report “U.S. Manufacturing in International Perspective.”

The report showed that the United State is second to only China in global manufacturing output, yet since 1990 U.S. employment in manufacturing is down 31%. The report also states “The United States saw a disproportionately large drop

between 2000 and 2010, but its decline in manufacturing employment since 1990

is in line with the changes in several European countries and Japan.” Shrinking of employment in manufacturing is a worldwide trend that is not exclusive to America.

The manufacturing industry in America is alive and well, we are producing more goods than ever before. Due to automation it is no longer necessary to employ thousands of factory workers to do the same job that a few robots can do. Not to mention those robots can work 24/7 without taking breaks, getting hurt, or requiring benefits. Technology is being used globally to increase productivity at the price of displacing workers.

As the tide of automation rises, as it has been for decades, more workers are laid off, houses are foreclosed, and the American dream becomes an abstract concept rather than a practical reality. It also leaves large numbers of mostly working class men justifiably angry and in need of a solution.

Per usual, politicians exploit the situation to capture power. They preach to the unemployed, disenfranchised, and the ones who feel left out by the current political system. Their illusion of a solution is to blame immigrants and foreigners; it’s much more emotional and dramatic than blaming the robots. More importantly it garners support, funds campaigns, and motivates millions to vote for them.

I can’t exclusively fault Trump for promoting this message. While the way in which he does it is highly unsettling, his exploitation of a vulnerable group and subsequent claim of a tangible solution is a tactic politicians on both sides of the aisle have been using since ink dried on the Constitution.

While the exploitations and false promises are not new trends in the world of politics, automation is a relatively new trend affecting employment. Next week I will take a look at the social implications and social support programs of those who are displaced by automation as well as what it means for the future of employment.

Shedding Old Ideas Of Masculinity: Getting Back To Who We Are At Our Core.

Published on the Good Men Project.

Masculinity as society defines it is a dubious concept. Through self examination and the questioning of our beliefs, we can arrive at a much healthier definition of manhood.

Growing up my folks told me I could be anything I wanted, if I was willing to work hard enough for it. My father showed me, through his actions, what it meant to be a man of integrity, fairness, and resolve. He taught me that I should treat all people with kindness, and treat women the same way I’d want my mother or sister to be treated.

I wish I could say I have been all of those things all of the time. But I haven’t. Show me a man who thinks he has, and I’ll show you one who hasn’t done enough self-examination. We are all humans, and as such we make mistakes, and hopefully learn from them.

The lessons our parents teach us, as noble as they may be, are only a small part of what we learn. As we grow through adolescence we spend less time with our parents and more time with our peers. We begin to venture out into society on our own and become subject to different ideas of what it means to be a man.

Society has a whole set of norms it wants to impose on men. Conformity to the generally accepted principles of masculinity is a priority because it holds the status quo and maintains stability. This is in direct conflict with nature.

Nature wants conflict and resolution. A constant cycle of conflict and resolution in which the dominant, most useful traits perpetuate, and those, which do not serve the species, recede into the dark by the tide of evolution.

From even a biological stand point it is puzzling that we as a society continue to pass along detrimental and toxic ideas of masculinity to our boys.

But nevertheless, I was thrust into society. I went to school, made friends, and picked up a whole new set of principles of manhood. I grew up playing partially violent, full contact sports like lacrosse and wrestling. I hung out with other kids who played sports.

What society told me about my niche of man was that I was to be tough and never express any emotions other than happy and angry. I wasn’t supposed to acknowledge any weaknesses I may have and I definitely wasn’t supposed to write songs or poetry. I also had to be a ladies man while still maintaining loyalty to my male friends at all times. It all seems a lot to ask a kid who is barely old enough to drive a car.

College was a different animal altogether. To make a long story short it was like all those things I was told when I was a teenager, but amplified and turned up to eleven. Take that hotchpotch and add copious amounts of substances to it and you have quite an unhealthy perception of manhood.

Now I find myself in my mid twenties. I’m a few years removed from the mayhem of college, and have transitioned into a somewhat normal, fully functional adult. I have a full time job and I pay my bills and taxes.

Those few years between college and the present moment have been one long stare in the mirror. I’ve subjected myself to one new experience after another and have traveled far out of my comfort zone. Within two months of graduating college I picked up and moved across the country to Los Angeles, where I knew no one. I decided that I didn’t want to go to law school after all and instead chose to pursue my passion for writing.

Getting out of my comfort zone and subjecting myself to new and different ideas revealed a lot to me about myself. It allowed me to un-package who I thought I was and what I thought it meant to be a man.

The uncomfortability of stepping outside what I had always known forced me to look in the mirror and ask myself “Who are you?” and more importantly “Who do you want to be?”

I discovered that I wasn’t the man society told me I should be. I looked back at my past behaviors and figured out I could keep the good ones and discard the ones that didn’t suit me anymore.

Life tends to come full circle in some sort of weird harmonious way; and I came to the realization that who I really was at my core, and who I’ve always wanted to be, is the man that my father showed me how to be long ago.

Modern society frowns upon self-critique and self-examination. We live in the social media age, where people only share his or her shining successes. It’s all a grand façade, as everyone faces obstacles all along the way. But still, failure is shunned and admitting mistakes is viewed as weakness.

Above all, society does not want you to question your life long beliefs. If enough people began to question their perception of masculinity, or any number of their tightly gripped beliefs, society as a whole would change. Society does not want change; it wants conformity.

But wide scale change is as natural as the concept of evolution itself. There’s no end on the evolutionary spectrum and humans are not exempt from this.

The next phase of human evolution will be a mental one. Many of society’s constructs just don’t suit us as a species anymore. Many of the principles of what it means to be a man will have to go. Widespread change always follows individual cases of change, and as men we owe it to ourselves and to those around us to look in the mirror and ask ourselves “What kind of man am I?” and “What kind of man do I want to be?”

Is the Conversation of Privilege and the Politically Correct Movement Really Beneficial?

Posted in my weekly column “Through Our Eyes” found here.

College campuses are great places for innovative thought. They can also be like old tattered sponges that pick up whatever theory is deemed “progressive” at the time. As a political science major, the big one for us was the checking of privileges. I remember my first week of my government and politics introduction class. The professor came in and began a long rant about systematic advantages many of us had as white heterosexual males. He yelled, “Check your privilege!”

I remember thinking in that moment “Well I didn’t get to pick my parents, race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation before I was born and I also didn’t pick to which country I was born. I surely didn’t choose the systems in place in that country. So why are you yelling at me?”

He went on to say “You have to be aware of it!” To which I thought, “This guy doesn’t even know my name. I literally have to write my name in sharpie on a paper name tag. So how does he know how aware or unaware I am?”

And therein lies the problem. The assumption of privilege is that everyone who falls into the privileged group is an active participant in maintaining privilege and ensuring no one else enjoys similar privileges.

The modern movement of political correctness thrives off of victimization and guilt. People with power – politicians, ideologues, those with agendas of various shapes and sizes tell some people they are victims and others that they are guilty. They push identity politics and a type of thought crime enforcement straight out of George Orwell’s 1984.

I have friends of all different backgrounds and when we hangout I don’t analyze my privilege in relation to them. We go get tacos, watch the game and have some laughs. I don’t sit at lunch and feel guilty for my white heterosexual privilege, nor do I try to identify the structures of oppression that affect them. We are equals. Anything else would be superficial and make for awkward friendships. People want to be treated with kindness and respect. I know of few people of any background who consciously think about the institutional inequalities of society when they are carrying on their daily routines.

Most people just want to work hard, provide for their families and enjoy life. Indoctrinating an idea of inherited victimization to one set of groups while indoctrinating guilt into another set about factors they have no control over is a losing game. The message we should be sending is one of self-empowerment. Self-empowerment happens within us and is durable regardless of outside conditions. Political correctness and the war on privilege is just a new tactic of division and control, as it empowers no one.

Freedom and equality are never obtained through censorship and the putting down of others. Those are competing ideas. Freedom and Equality are obtained through rigorous work and struggle. Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Amelia Earhart, and all who have followed have proved that. The people who are creating change don’t do it by playing the victim. They do it by being great at whatever they do, not by censoring people or legislating behavior. Their self-empowerment breaks barriers and creates real change, which in turn empowers others.

I have grown up with a powerful movement of political correctness. I’ve lost track of how many people I’ve seen lose their jobs for off the cuff, coarse comments that apparently justify no hope for redemption. These people seem to just disappear into the ether. Their legacies forever tarnished, their successes disregarded.

As a young male this has a chilling affect on my relationships. Anything can be deemed offensive or inappropriate; making it difficult to express myself for fear of being attacked for whatever innocent missteps I may make.

There are very real structures of oppression in this country. The drug war and the segregation of American cities are two off the top of my head. Political correctness and soapbox speeches about privilege aren’t going to solve real issues like those.

The Infrastructure of Tyranny.

The latest article in my column for the Good Men Project.

Most people I know are not strict ideologues of one set of ideas or another. People generally have beliefs that straddle party lines. I personally have some beliefs that align with the Republicans and others the Democrats. It’s been my experience and observation that the majority of people fall into the same category. But in our political system there are only two options, and people are forced to vote for one side or the other.

Today more than ever, we’re a divided nation. Race, gender, religion, sexual orientation are the major lines that come to mind.

There are many outside forces influencing and furthering those divides. The media, political parties, and corporations play a major part in the peddling of division amongst the people, each with their own motives for doing so.

I frequently read articles that discuss how alarming the current social and political climate is. The problem is not a well-hidden secret, we are all more or less in agreement of it. So then why do we continue to actively participate in our own division?

The answer appears clear to me. It is because we like to be right. Especially when discussing politics, it has now become more important to be right than to be effective.

In the past, the right brought ideas to the table, as did the left, and they compromised somewhere in the middle for the greater good of the nation. In the current state of politics in America, we have passed the tipping point where it is now more desirable to further ideology and partisan politics, than to compromise.

This problem is not a Republican or Democrat problem. Both parties are equally guilty of participating in this form of governing. Remember how Obama-care got passed? What about the several times the government was shutdown the last eight years?

The country is moving incrementally towards political extremes. The political parties have their own extreme factions, the tea party conservatives and the ultra progressive liberals. Both of which are now gaining power and influence. The right and left wings have their own media outlets, which push their agendas.

What most people don’t realize is that the political spectrum is not a line, but rather a circle, and by going too far in one direction you come out on the other side. The middle ground is at the bottom of the circle. Each side, right and left, gets more extreme until they meet at the top of the circle, where they become the same thing.

Far left ideology and far right ideology end with the same result for the people – oppression.

Whether it was Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, or any number of the extreme right or left wing governments the world has seen come and go, the end result is always the same. The far right and left have wildly different ideologies but when they are implemented they produce similar outcomes. Nationalism, media control, and the role of the police state are all hallmarks of both.

But this is America, land of the free, none of that could happen here.

If we stay vigilant, well informed, and look out for one another than no, authoritarian oppression is highly doubtful.

But the infrastructure is in place. Lets take the first commonality, nationalism. Trump had a nationalist message. He created the idea that America had lost its grandiosity, mostly at the hands of foreign nations and immigrants, and that we have to take our country back and make it great again.

The increasing polarization of the media is another piece of that infrastructure. I ask many of my peers where they get their news. Depending on their political views I usually get Fox, MSNBC, or some other variation of either right or left wing news outlets.

At face value there is nothing wrong with either one of those news outlets. I watch both. The problem arises when that becomes the only source that people get their news from. Once again, depending on ideology people tend to exclusively watch one or the other. They tend to only listen to ideas that reinforce their own ideas, because at the end of the day we all want to be right.

As a result, many people live in an echo chamber, rarely hearing differing opinions or points of view from their own.

The most alarming commonality to me is the militarization of the police force. After the two wars fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, we had a huge military surplus. Countless humvees, armored vehicles, body armor, and military weapons were bought and paid for, sitting in warehouses.

What became of that military surplus? Cue your local police department.

In the post 9/11 America most towns, big or small have a SWAT team. Every police force is armed to the teeth with military style weapons that until recently were exclusively reserved for the battlefield.

I remember watching the Ferguson riots as they happened. The police response was more than just officers in riot equipment. Police were marching down the street in military formations behind the cover of armored vehicles. Images I was used to seeing in war footage from Iraq. The same is occurring right now at the Standing Rock demonstrations in North Dakota

If you were to take pictures and footage from these two events and remove the police logos from the uniforms it would be easy to confuse them with an occupying military force. To me there is no difference in the military wearing green uniforms overseas, or blacks uniforms that say police here at home.

The insidious underlying thread that makes us lose all perspective and allow incremental extremism to protrude into our daily lives is fear. Take the most recent example of the proposed registry for Muslims. The fear that we do not know who is coming into our country, and that we are not safe allows us to lose logic and reason. Once policies like this are enacted, where do we draw the line? Is a gay registry next on the list, or a Jewish registry?

The logical answer is that anyone who comes to America, including refugees already are vetted. They don’t just show up here out of thin air.

The biggest lie of all is that the registry, militarization of police, and fear mongering is for our own safety. It’s not about safety and never was. It is and always has been about power and control.

As Americans we possess the inherit values of perseverance, healthy skepticism, and goodwill towards one another. Values we must keep in the forefront of our mind in these times of fear and division.

Where Do We Find Political Solutions in What Appears to be a Barren Post-election Landscape?

Also published on the Good Men Project and can be found here.

We are almost three weeks removed from the election and whether you have come to terms with the results or not, it is necessary we look towards the future and try to find solutions in what appears to be a problematic political landscape.

This past election season was a big shift away from establishment party politics. Bernie Sander’s campaign was a testament to that and obviously Donald Trump was as well, although in the past few years the Republican establishment has been more of an enigma than any set of concrete ideas.

Looking back at patterns of history, this shift shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. The proclamation of a Washington “outsider” is a highly successful campaign strategy that has been used quite frequently. This strategy is usually most successful during or directly after periods of stress and uncertainty.

The cold war tensions of the late ‘50s led John F. Kennedy to the white house as he campaigned on the necessity of new blood and the failures of the old guard. Carter’s outsider strategy came on the heels of Watergate, and Reagan’s on the recession and energy crisis of the ‘70s.

President Obama’s path to the white house was much similar to JFK’s, the causes and conditions looking a little different.

When Obama first took office in 2008, I was coming up on the cusp of adulthood. It was like a light came on in the darkness. The financial crisis we were going through had put burdens on my family and nearly everyone around me and I had grown up most of my life with my country tangled up in two wars. I was a year too young to be eligible to vote, but most of my friends were of age, and Obama was overwhelmingly successful with young people.

The last eight years were pretty good from my point of view. It seemed that we had recovered from the recession. The economy was steadily improving. My friends and family were doing much better than they were eight years ago.

But this observation comes from my coastal-centric mind. I grew up in the Northeast, and moved to California towards the end of the Obama administration. Although I traveled through parts of the South and Midwest, it was not for any significant amount of time. At least not enough to break the perception bias I was suffering from.

A large swath of the population struggled mightily the last eight years. If you live on one of the coasts, it may have been harder to see, but many never really recovered from the 2008 financial crisis. History proved again to repeat itself and hindsight being 20/20 it’s easy to now see the flaw of the Hillary Clinton candidacy.

So now we lie in the wake of the election, many still in a state of bewilderment. The Democrats look to the future and plan for the 2018 midterms and 2020 election, wondering which direction they should go.

A smart solution would be to put forth the exciting, charismatic candidates that the Democrats usually put on the national stage. JFK, Obama, and Bill Clinton all had these qualities. They received large support from younger generations because we can relate to them. They aren’t just old white guys far removed from us, high up in their castles.

Mimicry is one of the great adaptors of behavior in nature. Species mimic characteristics of other species to be successful. Democrats need to take a lesson from Mother Nature and rip a page out of the Bernie Sander’s playbook.

Somewhere along the way the elitists hijacked the Democratic Party. They left the little guy behind, and forgot that people vote in states other than California and New York.

The Sanders campaign put the corporations, dark money, and elitists in their sights with the same fervor the people do. In a political era where money buys elections, he refused to take their money! Instead he funded his entire campaign from small, transparent donations. He made it clear he would go after Wall Street and eradicate the parasite that is dark money from politics.

He had widespread support from young people, minorities, and working class folks because he talked about issues that no other candidates were willing to talk about. 99% of us will never be part of any hedge fund or super pac. Guys like us were feeling like our power in the democratic process was only getting smaller, while the minority one percent at the top was gaining power. Sanders excited us and empowered us. That’s what made Democratic candidates great in the past, and it is what we need now.

I don’t say any of this as an “I told you so”, but rather as a path towards a solution based on the lessons of the past.

The good news is Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and their messages aren’t going anywhere. They’ve thrown their support for DNC chair behind Keith Ellison, an exciting young representative from Minnesota who shares many of their same values.

A candidate I have a strong admiration for, and will gain a lot of momentum the next four years is Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey. Prior to filling Frank Lautenberg’s vacant Senate seat, Booker was mayor of Newark, New Jersey.

The trajectory of the Democratic Party looks good. Bernie Sanders campaign as an outsider and a critic of the establishment was extremely successful. There are young, exciting candidates like Keith Ellison and Cory Booker who will gain significant traction the next four years. I believe there will be successful movements towards grassroots fundraising and organization, which will help to lesson the grip big corporations have on politics.

That is something that’s good for all of us, whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat.