The Mid-Term Elections
Years ago, Adolf Hitler said that if you tell a big enough lie often enough, it will eventually become the truth…and that truth will eventually not matter. Keep that in mind as reality has declared the mid-term elections of 2010 to now be history. And after all of the usual pre-election insanity of campaign lies, slanders, half-truths, opponent misrepresentations, and shifty campaign contribution, we have projected winners and losers.
Now that America has a divided Congress—between the now Republican-controlled House of Representatives and the Democrat-controlled Senate—as well as a Democratically-controlled executive branch (i.e., that’s the White House to those of you who failed Civics 101), we can expect ideological intransigence, political gridlock, party-bashing, and ultimately legislative inaction to run Washington for the foreseeable future.
Even as the landslide-victorious Republicans are preparing to take control of half of the federal government’s legislature, the presumed new Speaker of the House, John Boehner (R-OH) had already started to engage in the usual Washington political hyperbole by declaring that “there seems to be some denial on the part of the president and other Democratic leaders of the message that was sent by the American people."
Last week’s election victories on the part of the Republicans (in both national and local races across the country) were not so much as bringing the Democrats face-to-face with some presumed denial on their parts as much as it was greater organizing among the conservative rank-and-file, a more effective public relations machine, and better image-projecting. Combine this reality with the fact that Democrats were ideologically split over support for policies promoted by the White House and you get the pasting that Democrats suffered at the polls almost 2 weeks ago.
Most informed Americans already know the conservative platform of the Republican Party, so to call this election “the most historic election in over 60, 70 years” is something of a stretch of reality, and reeks of political spin…trying to make more of the elections than they were (come on…the election of the first African American president and the accompanying one-party control of the federal government during the previous election cycle doesn’t count as more “historic?” Even the Republican shift of Congress in 1994 was more meaningful historically). More to the point, its not as if the American electorate has much of a choice when it comes to party/ideological representation in Washington anyway…Brand X or Brand Y.
Taken altogether, these events harbinger what is to come for the American people…the ultimate loser in the elections of the past couple of weeks. Until either one party effectively (the key word here) controls one aspect of the legislative process, decides to work in the interests of their constituencies—us—and not instead hold allegiance to their political parties and their respective ideologies, or until both parties either learn to work together or the American people opt to create a viable third political alternative (the Tea Party totally withstanding), we can expect the same a three-ring circus in Washington in the coming term instead of functioning three branches of government.
Corporal Punishment In Schools
A high school basketball coach in Jackson, Mississippi is in legal hot water after images of him “paddling” students during a basketball practice went viral over the ‘net this week, courtesy of another student’s cell phone camera.
Coach Marlon Dorsey defended his practice of paddling basketball team members who failed “to run basketball plays correctly" as a way of trying to "save these young men from the destruction of self," according to court documents filed recently.
In further defense of his actions, Dorsey issued a statement which read,
"I paddled my students... today, some of [sic] students have lost pride in their school and in their (sic) selves. Students are disrespecting teachers, administrators and other students by stealing cell phones, leaving off campus without permission, disrupting classroom teaching time, late for class and not following dress codes by wearing the pants on their butts and house shoes to school and on-court behavior. I took it upon myself to save these young men from the destruction of self and what society has accepted and become silent to the issues our students are facing on a daily basis."
As of this writing: Dorsey is still employed with the district, but is on active suspension without pay for 28 days; students who were alleged to have been paddled still attend classes and are still playing on the boy's varsity basketball team; and a lawsuit has been filed in court naming the school district, Dorsey, and the school principal as defendants who failed to safeguard the rights of the players (http://mw.cnn.com/snarticle?c=cnnd_us&p=0&aId=20101111:mississippi.coach.whippings:1).
Having worked with young people myself for over 10 years (including currently as a counselor for at-risk teens), I not only empathize with Dorsey’s position, but support it 110%. Today’s youth are simply out of control, especially urban youth. Part of this is because we as a society have adopted an overly liberal attitude toward dealing with both their issues and their actions. We have adopted a New Age form of thinking which asserts that paddling, whippings, and other forms of “abuse” are more harmful than helpful to youth in dealing with their delinquency. But an argument can be made that removing these (and other such) sanctions as options when it comes to bringing up our children does more harm to society as a whole.
Most of us who comprise Generation X, Baby Boomers, and prior generations received such sanctions regularly in both the home and in schools (from 3rd grade through high school), and we are no worse for our experiences. In fact, it could be argued that such actions reinforced our generation’s superior social value of duty, while the absence of such actions has resulted in this current generation’s sense of entitlement.
Even if you don’t agree with bringing back corporal punishment in public schools, one thing no one can disagree with is that there was no where near as much violence, disrespect for teachers, and lack of self-respect back in my public school days as there is today with the absence of such measures. Also, people were not chomping at the bit to sue for any perceived violation of one’s “rights” back in the day as they are now…as if awarding monetary “compensation” somehow miraculously gives one back his/her dignity.
In fact, who needs Corporal Punishment? I say bring in Sergeant Slaughter!
Black Unwed Motherhood Reaches A New High
This week, the Washington Post featured a story about the extremely high—an understatement to be sure—rate of unwed motherhood among black women in America. According the both the article and the latest government figures, black single motherhood among black women is an astounding 72%, far and away shadowing the demographic group, Native Americans at 66% (“Blacks Struggle With 72% Unwed Mothers Rate,” The Washington Post.
To emphasize the point, the article focused on the experience of a Houston-area OB-GYN and her low-income–serving practice. The government’s statistics closely mirrors the daily experiences of Dr. Natalie Carroll, who gives a level of personal counseling emphasizing the need for single mothers to bring stable male figures into the lives of their children…in addition to medical care she provides to expectant mothers.
For many within the black community, this fact is no surprise, although the numerical percentage is still shocking. The black community also knows all-too well the correlative outcomes that such a high rate of single-parent households tends to yield—children of unmarried mothers (of any race) “are more likely to perform poorly in school, go to prison, use drugs, be poor as adults, and have their own children out of wedlock.”
It’s a well-know but little-discussed norm within the black community that, even when is criticized for the sociological pathology that it is by high profile figures such as entertainer Bill Cosby on the left and former Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes on the right, it becomes a matter of loping off the head (s) of the bearer(s) of bad news rather than an issue to be addressed.
It’s a complex problem with equally complicated solutions. Yes, black males could learn to step up and accept more responsibility insofar as family and their children are concerned, but when the economic climate creates more impediments than opportunities, how is he supposed to become “marriage material” if he cannot even acquire gainful employment? And what woman is going to “take care of a man” (a prospective taboo among many black women)?
And what about idea of marriage as a solution to this problem? Given the almost daily reports about how many high profile couples such as entertainers—individuals of more-than-adequate financial means—are splitting up almost as soon as they get together, how is any man supposed to take the institution of marriage seriously when it seems no one else is? As a solution to the high rate of single motherhood in and of itself, marriage seems to be an outdated institution that no one takes seriously. Indeed, depending on whose numbers you buy, more than half of them will end up in divorce anyway. So there is obviously no sense of security in matrimony. More so, if it comes down to divorce, the man is far more likely to receive the short end of the stick insofar as rulings (spousal/child support, the dividing of assets, etc.) are concerned, so where is his incentive to get married?
It would seem that many aspects of the socioeconomic system in America have to change in order for facilitate an incentive for black males become more responsible, and for black women to accept them as potential marriage partners. Then again, these were non-factors for black family cohesiveness during both slavery and in the century of Jim Crow following slavery. As mentioned earlier, it’s a complicated issue.