Listened to three political speeches recently. Jimmy Carter’s “Crisis of Confidence”, Ron Paul’s Farewell speech to Congress, and Ron Paul’s “What if?” speech to Congress. All of them were well worth the watch and Paul’s Farewell speeches really turned me against Trump. I like that Trump is making people angry at the broken and corrupt media/political establishment, but it doesn’t feel like he is running for president for noble causes, and he seems to be a step toward authoritarianism. Trump is not anti-establishment, he wants huge military spending, wants the Federal Reserve, and wants MORE government. I’ll give a brief review of Carter’s speech and pull out some quotes I liked, I linked Paul’s “What If?” speech because it is pretty short and concise. His farewell address to congress is too long for me to try to summarize here.
Carter’s Confidence Speech from 35 years ago, addressing the nation on the energy crisis, but also a general attitude in America that things are getting worse, not better. There seems to be a gaping hole in our armor of American Exceptionalism that wounded our confidence; we finished fighting an unjust war in Vietnam, removed a corrupt and law breaking president after Watergate, we were getting manhandled by OPEC, while having two popular political figures and a civil rights leader assassinated in the previous decade. The surprising thing about this speech was the amount of things that are the same today as 35 years ago.
Carter reads some quotes from people he talked with, one woman said, “Remember, you can’t sell anything on Wall Street unless someone digs it up somewhere else first.” In 2015 this has become false. Wall street speculates on the price of oil, gold, and other precious metals using pieces of paper (often called ‘paper gold’) that they buy/sell. Also another statement from a third party to Carter, “Mr. President, we are confronted with a moral and a spiritual crisis.”
This one as well from a third party to the president, “We can’t go on consuming 40 percent more energy than we produce. When we import oil we are also importing inflation plus unemployment.”
This is right, when we buy imports we are sending business, and therefore jobs, overseas. We (and nearly every other country) are buying oil with dollars, which inflates our currency, HOWEVER, the inflation is hidden from us because we are simply putting it somewhere else, exporting the inflation into other nations foreign reserves. If the world decides they want to exchange their dollars/treasury bills for goods because they don’t have faith in the dollar we will be economic trouble like we’ve never seen due to all the exported inflation coming home to nest.
Back to Carter, “But after listening to the American people I have been reminded again that all the legislation in the world can’t fix what’s wrong with America… I want to talk to you right now about a fundamental threat to American democracy…It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation. The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America.”
I agree with Carter, but the loss of confidence by the American people is for justified reasons I mentioned at the top. In 1979 there was little to be confident or proud of as an American, and in 2015 the case is not improved. Our trade deficit has ballooned, federal deficit is growing with reckless abandon, inflation adjusted wages have been in a decline since the mid 1970’s, we fought more unjust wars, we bring more conflict to the world than we bring peace to it, our political system is rife with a corruption that we are unable to combat at the ballot box, the family unit has crumbled into a pit of divorce as people now rely on the government instead of each other. The crisis of confidence remains, and it’s been papered over with materialism.
Carter continued, “In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we’ve discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We’ve learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.”
Carter continued, “As you know, there is a growing disrespect for government and for churches and for schools, the news media, and other institutions. This is not a message of happiness or reassurance, but it is the truth and it is a warning.”
I didn’t live in 1979, but it seems to me since the 90’s the disrespect for the government, school, church and news media has all grown. I am one of the people who disrespects these institutions, but it is not without cause. Government is deep in corruption, schools fail at preparing students, they indoctrinate certain ideal, the news media seeks to make money and hijack public opinion, and churches have been shown to be just as corrupt as government. I do share Carter’s opinion on materialism, we need to learn to love hard work, our families, neighborhoods, and communities because money and objects ultimately don’t satisfy our basic needs to belong, be loved, and be respected.
Carter explains the reasons for the loss of confidence, “These changes…came upon us gradually over the last generation, years that were filled with shocks and tragedy. We were sure that ours was a nation of the ballot, not the bullet, until the murders of John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. We were taught that our armies were always invincible and our causes were always just, only to suffer the agony of Vietnam. We respected the presidency as a place of honor until the shock of Watergate.
We remember when the phrase “sound as a dollar” was an expression of absolute dependability, until ten years of inflation began to shrink our dollar and our savings. We believed that our nation’s resources were limitless until 1973, when we had to face a growing dependence on foreign oil.”
This is the coup de grace, people turning to government seeking solution, “These wounds are still very deep. They have never been healed. Looking for a way out of this crisis, our people have turned to the Federal government and found it isolated from the mainstream of our nation’s life. Washington, D.C., has become an island. The gap between our citizens and our government has never been so wide. The people are looking for honest answers, not easy answers; clear leadership, not false claims and evasiveness and politics as usual.”
Carter continues on the corruption of Congress, “What you see too often in Washington and elsewhere around the country is a system of government that seems incapable of action. You see a Congress twisted and pulled in every direction by hundreds of well-financed and powerful special interests. You see every extreme position defended to the last vote, almost to the last breath by one unyielding group or another. You often see a balanced and a fair approach that demands sacrifice, a little sacrifice from everyone, abandoned like an orphan without support and without friends.”
Carter goes on explaining what we have to do as a nation to restore our confidence quoting a Camp David visitor, “We’ve got to stop crying and start sweating, stop talking and start walking, stop cursing and start praying. The strength we need will not come from the White House, but from every house in America.” I really like this quote because it understands that individuals make up a society, and to improve the confidence of a nation you have to do it one person at a time. The quote also understands that it won’t be an easy task, we need to work hard and sweat, we need to do instead of talk about doing and we need faith in ourselves.
The speech continues onto his policy execution and suggestion. I like Carter as a person, he is honest (maybe naive) and has a heart in the right place. If the nation was filled with people like him we would live in a better place, with morals and community.
Ron Paul’s “What If?” Speech, House of Representatives in 2009. I linked the video here (length 3:30). I added no commentary just the transcripts below.
What if our foreign policy of the past century is deeply flawed and has not served our national security interest?
What if we wake up one day and realize that the terrorist threat is the predictable consequence of our meddling in the affairs of others, and has nothing to do with us being free and prosperous?
What if propping up repressive regimes in the Middle East endangers both the United States and Israel?
What if occupying countries like Iraq and Afghanistan and bombing Pakistan is directly related to the hatred directed toward us?
What if someday it dawns on us that losing over 5,000 American military personnel in the Middle East since 9/11 is not a fair tradeoff with the loss of nearly 3,000 American citizens no matter how many Iraqi, Pakistanian, Afghan people are killed or displaced?
What if we finally decide that torture, even if called “enhanced interrogation technique”, is self-destructive and produces no useful information and that contracting it out to a third world nation is just as evil?
What if it is finally realized that war and military spending is always destructive to the economy?
What if all war-time spending is paid for through the deceitful and evil process of inflating and borrowing?
What if we finally see that war-time conditions always undermine personal liberty?
What if Conservatives who preach small government wake up and realize that our interventionist foreign policy provides the greatest incentive to expand the government?
What if Conservatives understood once again that their only logical position is to reject military intervention and managing an empire throughout the world?
What if the American people woke up and understood that the official reasons for going to war are almost always based on lies and promoted by war propaganda in order to serve special interests?
What if we as a nation came to realize that the quest for empire eventually destroys all great nations?
What if Obama has no intention of leaving Iraq?
What if a military draft is being planned for for the wars that would spread if our foreign policy is not changed?
What if the American people learned the truth, that our foreign policy has nothing to do with national security, that it never changes from one administration to the next?
What if war in preparation for war is a racket serving the special interests?
What if President Obama is completely wrong about Afghanistan and it turns out worse than Iraq and Vietnam put together?
What if Christianity actually teaches peace and not preventive wars of aggression?
What if diplomacy is found to be superior to bombs and bribes in protecting America?
What happens if my concerns are completely unfounded?
But what happens if my concerns are justified and ignored?
I’m not so optimistic, I Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure
Success breads failure and suffering breads greatness
In the same way breaking up with a girlfriend might cause you to blow your saved money for a new car.
Our police state, war mongering, expansive government, with crap education