No permanent friends or enemies, only permanent interests
America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests.” -Henry Kissinger.
I grew up in an amazing family, rich in culture, activism, intellect, spirituality and achievement. I was born in October 1968, six months after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and four months after the assassination of Presidential Candidate Robert “Bobby” Kennedy. The 1960s and early 1970s was a particularly turbulent political period in the United States, with the protests against the Vietnam War and the ongoing protest internally over the civil rights of American citizens. As a child [as with most children], my social, economic, religious and political views were shaped, and thereby controlled, by those in my immediate surroundings, namely my family and close friends of the family.
My grandfather, Rev. Samuel Ross Wright, who had a enormous impact on my political thinking, served for over two decades in the 1960s and 1970s as the Pastor of Mt. Zion United Methodist Church where Theodore M. Berry, Sr. was a congregation member, and would emerge as Cincinnati’s first black mayor in 1973. During my upbringing, I recall watching numerous political dialogues among Cincinnati’s political titans, and among my family, like a person watching a Wimbledon tennis match. In the 1960s and 1970s, my family, like many other black families, were aligned with the Democratic Party, as it was perceived to be the political party most dedicated to our desire for political freedom, justice and equality.
From the 1850s to the early 1930s, black people had aligned themselves with the Republican Party, since Republicans during that time period were perceived to be the party in the post slavery era (1865-1890-ish) responsible for the abolition of slavery and sympathetic to the movement for freedom and voting rights. As racism and bigotry driven by Southern resistance to post slavery reforms designed to help recently freed slaves intensified, the result in the South was the enactment of the black codes, lynching, and economic oppression. During this period, black people were largely a political football punted back and forth between the Democratic and Republican political parties.
Over time, black people slowly but surely shifted away from the post-Civil War Republican Party to the Democratic Party. This change was most pronounced during the 1930s with the Great Depression and the movement of blacks en masse to the North during the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. As the segregation system was challenged and defeated in federal courts [Brown v. Education and related US Supreme Court decisions], and Democrats became more outspoken about political, economic, and social injustice, blacks joined and championed the cause of the Democratic Party. However, upon closer examination of the period between 1960-1974, we discover the “Democratic Party” was not truly an ally in the truest sense, especially when we look at the historical record of resistance from leadership level Southern Democrats in Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia and other Democrat controlled states. In fact, had it not been for Republican Everett Dirksen of Illinois in the Senate in 1964, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 may have never passed, as Southern Democrats led the Senate filibuster to prevent a vote on the bill. Politics is dynamic where values, interests and issues change with time and circumstances. As a result, individuals cannot have a static approach to politics, a specific political party or who they support for political office.
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This is a picture of my grandfather later in life 1970s with Cincinnati’s first black mayor, Theodore Berry Sr with a separate note personally written to me by his son Theodore Berry Jr after his dad passed away. Also you’ll see a key to the city of Cincinnati which was presented to my grandfather in the 1970s for his activism. The Berry’s were members of my grandfather’s church.
Right : I keep the note in the back of the picture.
“…Trails have been blazed (for the most part); the stage is set; and now, is our time to perform with Grace and to Shine!“
In this vein, I’ve lifted a quote attributed to Henry Kissinger [referring to US foreign policy], “America has no PERMANENT friends or enemies, only interests.” Congressman William Gray modified Kissinger’s quote and converted Kissinger’s statement into a message for “African-Americans” to apply to politics. Gray said, “We have no permanent friends or enemies, only permanent interests.” Now, group think or group politics can be dangerous unless the combined interests of each individual within the group are aligned in such a way as to support a group political approach. For instance, black people, as a group, were intentionally excluded from voting, property ownership, marriage, and numerous other civil rights under the US Constitution solely based upon their racial GROUP. In that instance, the collective interest of the group (black people) is singularly aligned, as a group, to oppose that sort of group political oppression. However, using “group politics” as your every time go-to political strategy, driven solely by group based on “race/gender/nationality/religion” is an unwise approach.
In general, each individual has to write down his or her own critical values, interests and issues. Next, we have to align our critical values, interests and issues to those of the candidates for whom we cast our vote. For example, I have off-grid solar, grid-tied solar, and wind power at various properties, because I have a passion for clean energy. Therefore, clean energy would be one of my critical values and interests. It would be foolish for me to vote along “group” politics lines if the group doesn’t share my identical values on clean energy. With limited group exceptions, for the most part politics is a individual’s choice to decide how government policy and laws should work, based upon that individual’s interests, values and issues important to their life.
In my adult life, I’ve been active in both Democratic campaigns [as a younger adult, 15-21 years old] and Republican campaigns [23-38 years old]. Upon further reflection on my political involvement and social introspection, in my late 30s I decided to completely abandon any pre-conceived political affiliation and be a political independent, meaning my vote would be STRICTLY based on my critical values, issues and interests. So if you were a personal friend of mine [Republican or Democrat], but you supported issues opposing clean energy, favored higher taxes or supported increased wasteful government spending, I would not vote for you if those were the critical issues on my political table, My mentality wouldn’t be, “Well, since my grandfather/mother/brother/sister were Democrats/Republicans and since you are Democrat/Republican, I’ll automatically vote for you.” That is illogical and politically stupid, a huge mistake. Our voting must be predicated on supporting a candidate whose values, interest and issues align with our own.
In my opinion, the current national, and in some cases local, leadership of both the Republican Party and Democratic Party are an affront to the freedom, economic growth and social harmony of American citizens. As far as Republicans it seems peculiar to me that a party of "small government, less spending and lower taxes" fails to live up to its own Republican hype. Here are a few examples:
- Expansion of government by authorizing the trampling of civil liberties through bad acts like the recent renewal of foreign intelligence surveillance provisions, domestic surveillance, and indiscriminate international intervention,
- Approving a tax cut which will add $1.2 TRILLION to the DEFICIT without approving any spending cuts (like using a cash advance on your personal credit to pay your monthly bills),
- The hostility of the de facto leader of Republican party, our current President, who routinely engages in epic levels of hostile, divisive, disrespectful dialogue directed both at the media and at his political opponents,
- Appointing a racially hostile person like Stephon Bannon to a key national strategy position [now fired], and pardoning a federally convicted racial profiler (Joe Arpaio).
Despite all of this, to me, Republicans comically proclaim a desire in “expanding their base to diverse groups”
I could provide numerous other examples of Republicans failing to live up their own message. You would be foolish to listen to anyone who urges you to vote Republican because of the past or because of some ancient relative who voted Republican if that Republican candidate does not embrace your interests and issues.
And the Democrats are no better. Here are some examples:
- Irresponsible government spending and no value-added regulations that strangle the free market and economic growth, accompanied by higher taxes,
- The unbelievable marketing campaign the Democrats employed to keep a vast number of black people politically loyal to the Democratic while sitting Democratic leaders in Congress from the South vociferously opposed civil rights legislation,
- Bill Clinton’s support and alignment with Republicans to pass the 1994 Crime Bill, resulting in a swelling prison population of mostly blacks and latinos, was a form of disparate law enforcement for which he would have been condemned by his base had he been a Republican.
- The manner in which Democrats railroaded the Bernie Sanders campaign to defeat in the 2016 Democratic Party Presidential nomination process, something which is against all the principles of fairness and equality that Democrats claim to support.
- The misuse and arguably criminal violation of the Espionage Act by Hillary Clinton, followed by the silence of Democratic leaders, was and is a disgrace.
You would be foolish to listen to anyone who urges you to vote Democratic because of the past or because of some ancient relative who voted Democratic if that Democratic candidate does not embrace your interests and issues.
As a result of all of this, my political views are now solidly independent, leaning Libertarian, as neither the Republican or Democratic parties regularly represent my values, interests or issues. In fact, the Republican and Democratic parties are flip sides of the same political enslavement plantation coin. We’ll NOT be free under either party. Having said that, if a candidate who is a Democrat, Republican, Independent, or Libertarian has views and supports positions that are aligned with my own, I may cast my vote FOR THAT INDIVIDUAL CANDIDATE, not for their political party.
This younger generation understands this, meaning they are not persuaded by Republican or Democratic party leaders. As a father, when life coaching my two adult sons, I’ve urged them to embrace my view of political analytics. It makes no sense for me or anyone else to give carte blanche support to a” Republican" or "Democratic” candidate on that basis alone without rigorous values, issues, and an interests-based analysis supporting our vote. The day of political remote control and blind allegiance to the major political parties is over!
In the near future, like paper currencies, political parties will become obsolete. Why? People can decide via direct access to reliable information who and what to vote for. Political decision making will become more decentralized, due to our ability to directly interface with candidates and secure through big data the voting information we need. No one needs the political equivalent of Moses to "tell us" who to vote for. Unfortunately, the current US President is a good example of decentralized political decision making. The establishment Republican Party opposed him, but he won anyway? Decentralized information outside of the control of Republican Party leaders with some small "assists" from the Russians helped sway the ultimate outcome of the election. In the coming elections, people will COMPLETELY tune out the sanctimonious Democratic and Republican leadership, and decide for themselves who and what to vote for. The Democratic and Republican parties used to help voters sort out who is good or bad to politically support. The Republican and Democratic leaders then proclaiming to “da people” while waving a magic wand: “Vote for So-and-So”, because we have vetted and approve of their candidacy. Guess what? There are a growing number of voters, inclusive of black people, who DO NOT care what the two major parties say.
Finally, as an independent, I voted for the Libertarian Party candidate for President. My values, interests and issues were and are embodied in the Libertarian presidential candidate in 2016 and with the principles below:
- Freedom of speech, religion, and association, including the end of prohibition on all personal activities that do not infringe upon the rights of others.
- Minimal taxation and balanced budgets, property rights
- The Second Amendment and the absolute right to self defense
- Free market economy
- Personal privacy and the Fourth Amendment
- The assurance that no individual, corporation or government is above the rule of law
Civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. was not partisan and never endorsed any political candidate. In a 1958 interview, King said “I don’t think the Republican party is a party full of the almighty God nor is the Democratic party. They both have weaknesses … And I’m not inextricably bound to either party.” I believe we should take Dr. King’s advice and choose our candidates based upon our own values, interests, and issues, not by political remote control from the Democratic and Republican Party leadership or any centralized authority.
Author Short Bio:
Ross A. Wright
Son of Patricia Delores Wright who carried on her family's legacy of working for civil rights. One of the daughters of Samuel Ross Wright, former Cincinnati NAACP president, she likewise worked for the organization, participating in voter registration drives. She felt voting was among the highest levels of civic contribution a citizen can make. Ms. Wright was also active with the Congress of Racial Equality and the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, investigating discrimination allegations. She didn't have a `Woe is me, why me?' attitude. She didn't seek any sort of pity. Instead she kept her faith in God and enjoyed her life to the end. Mr. Wright honors his family's tradition by remaining politically free from the party ties that seek to bind people to a specific philosophy. In her honor he created the Patricia D Wright Scholarship Foundation in her name.
Mr. Wright teaches an MBA course and offers Life Coaching to those who wish to stretch themselves. Life coaching is the business of helping people empower themselves based upon self-awareness, knowledge, understanding and continuous development. We urge each client to develop a Individual Learning Plan to chart a path of continued growth and human engagement. To learn more, visit Wright on my People.