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Fri Apr 17, 2015, 06:16 PM

Evolution, Growth, & a Question

“A person’s consciousness cannot evolve unconsciously.”
-- Rubin “Hurricane” Carter


As the 2016 season approaches, one of the things that I will be on the look out for is politicians who say that their position on one thing or another has “evolved.” I recognize that many of the things that I spend hours thinking about are likely of no significance to others. Indeed, this may be one of them. However, the above quote -- from one of the letters Rubin wrote me from solitary confinement in 1979 -- is evidence that the evolution of human consciousness is something that I’ve found fascinating for many years.

Quite often, in the realm of politics, we hear a candidate explain a recent change in their position on an issue is the result of their evolving opinion. As a general rule, this is a purposeful lie. Most often, that change in position is nothing more or less than opportunism. The candidate has become convinced that: [a] they risk losing support if they continue to advocate for their original position; and they may capitalize on taking a different position. It has nothing to do with actual values.

Let’s consider a crude historic example, shall we? George Wallace is frequently remembered as a racist southern governor, who -- after being seriously injured in an assassination attempt -- evolved in his thinking, and came to like black people. The truth is a little more complicated, and far less attractive. An examination of Wallace’s early life shows that “race” wasn’t an important issue to him. Power was. So, while young George was attempting to harness political power, he really didn’t associate black people as playing any role.

With the Civil Rights movement, Wallace saw an opportunity to gain power by increasing the level of hatred in his state. He knew what every tyrant understands: that if you can get a group to hate a common foe, they will forget their own low level of being, and happily follow the leader. Wallace exploited that hatred for purely personal power. He even sought to become president, or to have great influence over a president (Nixon), by way of hate.

Once that bullet ended his chances of advancing in power, he had no use for racial hatred. This is distinct from evolving. No, old George Wallace was still the same grumpy snapping turtle of a man as he had been before.

Yet people do evolve, and it is something that even politicians can -- rarely -- do. But it is not the result of merely learning more, or adopting to changing circumstances. Those who originally supported George W. Bush’s rush to war in Iraq probably changed their opinions on that, as the events spun out of control. They may have made 100% sincere attempts to find avenues to resolve the horrible problems that Bush-Cheney created. But that’s not evolving. And while it is better than, say, the republicans who insist that “the world is better without Saddam,” it still raises questions about their judgment.

When President Obama came out in favor of marriage equality, he attributed it to an evolution in his thinking. While I think President Obama is much, much more honest than most politicians -- which really ain’t saying much -- I do not believe that one. I think that he felt that, as a candidate in 2008, it could have cost him the election, had he been honest with the public. Yet that brings us to an important point: the public’s opinion on marriage equality has evolved. And that’s a good thing.

It’s important, though, that we recognize that everyone should have been recognized as having equal rights to marry, all along. It’s great that we have, as a society, evolved; yet we should never lose sight of the fact that our society has denied people their basic human rights for far too long. The same holds true for the Civil Rights movement. And women’s lib. More, none of them have been solved -- they continue to be problems.

When groups of people, formerly denied basic rights, have them recognized, it transforms society. It brings the entire society to higher ground -- even though some people will complain. Those who now can exercise their rights continue to be the same good people that they were before. The actual transformation is found in the once hateful slugs who sought to deny others their rights.

Indeed, an actual evolution in consciousness transforms the individual. It isn’t mere learning some new facts. It’s not simply found in a willingness to try a new tactic to win an old fight. No, it requires a shedding of the qualities of the old self, and becoming new. Not like Richard Nixon kept trying to “re-invent” himself, and pretend to be “the New Richard Nixon.”

The last President to evolve in office was John Kennedy; this was largely as a result of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The last serious candidate for president, who entered the race as a result of his evolution, was President Kennedy’s brother, Robert; his evolution was largely the result of JFK’s assassination.

The majority of politicians never evolve. It may be unfair to expect them to. It is definitely unrealistic.

It is hopeful that politicians will grow over heir career, however. That’s one of the things that I look for in candidates, be they running for local, state, or national office. Thus, my question: Can you give an example -- historical or current -- of a politician that you admire, who has displayed personal growth during their career?

Thank you,
H2O Man

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Reply Evolution, Growth, & a Question (Original post)
H2O Man Apr 2015 OP
H2O Man Apr 2015 #1
sabrina 1 Apr 2015 #2
H2O Man Apr 2015 #3
sabrina 1 Apr 2015 #4
H2O Man Apr 2015 #6
Brickbat Apr 2015 #5
H2O Man Apr 2015 #7


Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Apr 17, 2015, 06:45 PM

2. I definitely agree with this:

Quite often, in the realm of politics, we hear a candidate explain a recent change in their position on an issue is the result of their evolving opinion. As a general rule, this is a purposeful lie. Most often, that change in position is nothing more or less than opportunism. The candidate has become convinced that: they risk losing support if they continue to advocate for their original position; and they may capitalize on taking a different position. It has nothing to do with actual values.


And because, even if they truly did have a change of heart due to some momentous event in their own lives, I still want my leaders to have had the judgement to have been on the right side, especially when it comes to Civil Rights, War and Inequality of any kind, economic included, because they are smart enough, strong enough to advocate for those rights, even when the rest of the world is against them.

That is why I so admire Barbara Lee. SHE knew we were being lied to. She also knew what it would cost her to go against the prevailing winds when she stood alone and voted against the Patriot Act.

THAT is a leader, she did not have to evolve on the Iraq War. She had enough intellect and perception to know it was wrong right from the beginning.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #2)

Fri Apr 17, 2015, 08:29 PM

3. There's really only

two choices: you recognize that all people have basic human rights, or you don't. The Democratic Party should not be host to those parasites who believe that "all animals are equal, with some being more equal than others."

I tend to find those who identify themselves as "religious," but are invested in the error of thinking that a certain type or group of people have a greater value, particularly annoying. That is followed closely by those who are incapable of admitting a mistake. That includes, for example, those who would now qualify admitting error in okaying the Bush-Cheney rush to war by saying that their mistake was to trust President Bush. Or by pointing out that others made the same mistake. Fuck that; I look for a person who fully accepts individual responsibility.

An elected official has not only the right, but the moral-ethical obligation, to demand proof of anything they are asked to sign off on .....no matter if it is a president, a senator, or a party chairperson requesting them to do so. This is especially true in the case of being asked to commit our armed forces to war. For those politicians, safe in the comfort of their plush offices, are thus sending young men and women to suffer, to kill, to be wounded, and even to die. So that politician has t be 100% sure.

War should always and only be a very last resort. It should only come when the rule of international law has become so broken, that there is absolutely no alternative.

As 2016 approaches, I believe that it is every individual voter's responsibility to closely examine the candidates ....their past history, how they currently account for that, and the positions they now take .....because the USA is involved in far, far too much warfare around the globe. It might not be reported on the "news" every day, but it sure as hell is happening every single day.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #3)

Fri Apr 17, 2015, 09:23 PM

4. Yes, I don't understand those who can't see the difference between right and wrong, assuming

we are talking about civilized societies. And Iraq was so obviously wrong on every level that imo, anyone who either believed Bush/Cheney or agreed with them, and I think there those who did agree, or thought it would benefit their own careers so went along, but anyone who supported it for whatever reason, does not have the judgement to be in a powerful, decision-making office.

I prefer those who recognize right away when something is wrong. We need people with that kind of keen judgement.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #4)

Sat Apr 18, 2015, 09:29 AM

6. I think that most

of the Democrats who gave Bush-Cheney the "okay" did so out of fear. That involves the concept that they went along to benefit their careers; yet it also goes a step farther. It means they were afraid that telling the Truth would harm their careers.

Fear is the worst enemy that any individual will encounter in life. That holds true, no matter what our particular status in this society. And I speak specific to our society, our current culture, because we are saturated with both "fear" and the false "safety" of "authority," from the time we enter school on. Fear of being different. Fear of being wrong. Fear of failure. Fear of being punished. And on and on.

Hence, as adults, we are highly conformist, fearful individuals. We pretend to be "free," because of fear of the consequences of recognizing the consequences of being honest with ourselves. Our "respect" for authority creates individuals who assume that people in DC are "leaders," rather than elected representatives. We might argue about one party versus the other, with the same passion that we argue baseball scores and who might win this season's "American Idle-Minded" competition, but it is almost always in the context of a willing consumer.

Our culture is cut of from the past in a most unhealthy way. How many DUers, for example, know that FBI Director Hoover attempted to prevent the public from being exposed to "The Death of a Salesman"? Much less why?

I again am rambling. An old man having his morning cup of coffee tends to, I suppose.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Apr 17, 2015, 09:26 PM

5. Paul Wellstone was in the process of doing so.

He voted for DOMA in 1996, reconsidered over the years, asked allies and activists to educate him, and admitted in his 2001 autobiography that his vote was a mistake. It hurts my heart to think of where he might be today.

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Response to Brickbat (Reply #5)

Sat Apr 18, 2015, 09:30 AM

7. Great response.

Perfect. Thank you so much for this. You are absolutely right.

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