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                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.







The Last Resort

by JC Bowman

The autumn leaves at my recent visit to Nantahala Village got me thinking, and now winter, just like 2008 is upon us. I was going to title this article the Long Road Out of Tennessee or Train in Vain, but the Last Resort seemed much more appropriate. An appreciation to a song from my youth, the last resort refers to an action that is taken when no other option remains. I am not a world-weary cynic. I refuse to spend my life jaded. I am still in search of truth and bound for glory. Hopefully, I am still part of the solution for what ails humanity, as sheer apathy is no longer materially possible.

It was Confucius who said: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." I am now 44 years old. My thirties could be characterized as my pursuit, acquisition and unraveling of dreams. Be careful, I have been warned for what you wish for, you might just get it. I wanted influence at the highest levels of government. I achieved that goal to a limited extent. Thus my forties have been a return to idealism. Back to basics I like to call it. In politics you should expect to have an unfulfilled life. Ask anyone who has spent any portion of their life in the political arena, they will tell you the same story. Even the most optimistic people will say that you will have to lower your expectations. Aspirations often get dashed on the rocks of reality. That is why my Christian faith is so important to me---it keeps hope alive. If Jesus is a crutch, then I am a cripple in dire need.

During my life working in the public sector, government and subsequent advocacy related activity I guess I should not be surprised that we still face deadly diseases that are still rampant across the globe, health care is a major concern, poverty and hunger are still issues faced by friends and neighbors, the promotion of human rights is still needed, energy and environmental related issues are still problematic and champions for needed education reform are still necessary. Like many people I ask myself, have I even left a mark in the world? Michael Gerson reminds us that: "Causes such as human rights, freedom and social justice are always contested and difficult." He added, "politics is not a calling for the impatient or immature." So like William Wilberforce, I am reminded by the need for both persistence and endurance. I am being forced to rejoice in the discovery of small bits of happiness in a corrupt world, and thinking like the Eagles did that "we are all just prisoners here of our own device."

J C Bowman

-J. C. Bowman, a native of Cleveland, is a well informed and outspoken conservative educator. Is a freelance public policy analyst who resides in Cleveland, TN. Prior to this, he was Director for the Center for Education Innovation at Florida State University.  He served as the Director for the Florida Department of Education Choice Office and as the Chief Policy Analyst of the Education Policy Unit for Florida Governor Jeb Bush.



Knowing that the holidays are often the saddest of times I was going to forgo themes of poverty, loneliness, and death this year for Christmas and New Years. I mean, international events are depressing enough. But the 2008 election alone is enough to conjure up despair of global proportions. If you want to reflect upon those items you most certainly should do so, after all we have all gone through so many emotions about those subjects. So, before putting pen to paper, I wanted to get inside my own head and reflect upon other thoughts and get them out of the way and be freed up to do the rest of the column without burden. Fat chance when I have something to say to those that have not been politically, spiritually or physically lobotomized.

However, I admit that once again I get that feeling of being overtly exposed for taking difficult political stances and my penchant for cultivating my intensely reflective social consciousness, while all around is a time of rapidly changing social mores. People ask me what I think about the possibility of a woman being President. I do think it is time for a woman to sit behind the desk in the Oval Office, and not under it. People ask me about the possibility of an African American being President. I think it is past time for a color change in Washington, DC. I am open to any color. Red or yellow, black or white. We could elect Oprah and we could have the best of both worlds, and I bet she would be for middle class tax cuts. We could get a state of the union update in every issue of O, The Oprah Magazine.

On a more serious note, I have had numerous people ask me what Republicans need to do to win the 2008 Election. It is simple: Republicans need to start acting like Republicans. When Democrats, like fortune tellers, begin predicting the Republican future, Republicans need to remind Democrats of their past. I am personally not a big fan of Lincoln Day Dinners, particularly here in the Southern part of the United States, something about fire, marches and William Tecumseh Sherman keeps popping in my mind. However, if I was a member of a minority race in this country, I would never attend a Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. Unfortunately Andrew Jackson, a fellow son of Tennessee, was a vituperative racist. And Thomas Jefferson, a widowed slave holder, purportedly fathered several of his own slaves. Both parties should revisit the names of their annual political dinners. Now granted the easy argument is the past is in fact in the past, but then the political dinners are still annual. It doesn't really matter what is discussed at either political dinner, it is more important what the political issues are at your kitchen table.

For Republicans they simply cannot continue to forsake dissenting voices within the party or take for granted the faith based community. No matter how important, Republicans cannot narrowly wrap themselves in the banner of libertarian self-centeredness and corporation special interests. There are people in this country that need health care, there are diseases we must still conquer, there are real issues of poverty and hunger in our land, necessary immigration reform and children are still trapped in failing schools turning out unskilled youth. We can scream about national security until our lungs bleed, but searching blue-haired grandmothers at the airport does not keep me safe at night. Republicans do not need to apologize for Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib or wiretaps on overseas terrorists. They must demonstrate they take terrorism as seriously as Al Gore takes global warming. However, the development of alternative energy and the environment are real concerns. On Iraq, Colin Powell was right: we broke it, now we must fix it. Iran is a threat, but Pakistan is a greater threat. Republicans should remember the objective of reducing the size of government, better management of taxpayer money, display fiscal responsibility, control spending and provide consistent tax relief. Republicans are pro-military, and they need to demonstrate that by making sure our men and women in uniform have the best equipment available and take care of them when they finally come home. Taking care of the military means better health care, job placement or education for our veterans when they return. This tough-love message of Republicans needing to be Republicans only works along the road to recovery if they will only admit they have a problem. Republicans suffer a paralysis of analysis, and have not put forth a real agenda since 1994's Contract with America.

Democrats need to start out by apologizing for their racist past. If the past is the past, I invite any Democrat to explain to me, like African-American author Angela McGlowan did in her book Bamboozled, which party gave rise to the Ku Klux Klan. Which party opposed extending the vote to women? More importantly which party in 2007 picked as the President pro tempore of the Democrat controlled United States Senate of the 110th United States Congress, third in line to the presidency a former Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan? If Democrats want to represent the aspirations of minorities and women they are going to have to revisit their past and move the party to the future. Democrats will have to come to terms with their utterly schizophrenic views on the war on terrorism (including Iraq, Iran and possibly Pakistan), expanding health-care access, and focus efforts in terms of alternative energy. Keep in mind Iraq wanted Nuclear weapons, Iran is developing nuclear weapons, but Pakistan has nuclear weapons. So, who poses the biggest threat to global security? Democrats need to closely examine Grover Cleveland's Presidency to find a leader who refused to waste taxpayer dollars, rebuked special interests and steered America out of war. As a Democrat, Grover Cleveland championed states' rights and challenged the powerful unions of the day. The White House during his tenure was scandal-free. Democrats also need to reassure voters that a return of the Clinton's (if Hillary is fait accompli to win the Democratic Party nomination and the presumptive nominee) will not diminish personal integrity and dignity in the White House. First Husband Bill Clinton provides reassurance to some Americans in the policy arena, but raises concern in regards to moral issues for others. That subject will be broached again and again by other pundits, especially if ethical standards become fodder for late night comedians. In addition, Democrats are going to have to distance themselves from groups like People for the American Way, NARAL, Planned Parenthood, Daily Kos and By all means, if these far left folks want to portray Republicans as right-wing radicals for opposition to sucking the brains out of an unborn child in the mother's womb in the name of civil rights, well let the epithets roll. Democrats suffer from political pessimism rooted in fatalism and fear, their leadership in Congress is at historical lows. Democrats are learning what Republicans already know: it is hard to manage large egos.

I am somewhat disenchanted with both parties and most candidates at this point. There are several leaders I admire and respect on both sides of the aisle. But I find it difficult to believe that voters in 2008 will be merely satisfied by the gratification of political conformism to either party. Like me, citizens see too many people in need, while politicians and political parties try to posture their positions for special interest groups. Faith, race, income or past voting habits no longer determine automatic votes. It is undeniable that the White House is not the best place to learn how to be the leader of the free world. We need leaders with backbones. The on-the-job White House training did not work too well for Jerry Ford or Jimmy Carter. In all probability it will not work for many of the 2008 candidates. As pleasurable as this may possibly sound to a few, you probably do not want to squander your virginity to Pamela Anderson or Tommy Lee. There will be much frustration and subsequent lack of interest, and the enjoyment will not last that long. And every person who sees it on YouTube will express great amusement. That sure sounds like contemporary politics, doesn't it? All that is missing is the laugh track.

We need elected leaders that understand the essentials of life and average citizens. Voters need to understand that government simply cannot solve every human problem. However, leaders must understand their policies can help citizens build better lives. The policies of our government ought to observe the universal call to love our neighbors as we would want to be loved ourselves. It is benevolent to lend a hand to people in need, but we must be adamant about accountability and the end result. Elected leaders, like the next president must set an agenda to tackle some of society's toughest assignments -- educating our children, fighting poverty at home and aiding poor countries around the world. Any foreign country that receives one dime of American taxpayer money should be required to eliminate corruption, open their markets, respect human rights, and adhere to the rule of law.

Elected leaders must look at the promotion of faith-based solutions to human needs. Republicans need to view the religious as more than just a vote. Democrats need to realize people of faith are not exclusive to Republicans. Government cannot be afraid to promote the work of charities, community groups and faith-based institutions. Americans who work in faith-based charities should be viewed as valued partners, not as competitors. Government should never discriminate against groups that often inspire life-changing faith in a way that government never should. Both parties need to stand up against those who want their own agnosticism fully extended throughout all aspects of public life and fully into the realm of government agnosticism.

So as we head into 2008, and you reflect on life and the future this holiday season, remember like Truman Capote wrote: "I won't be here forever, Buddy. Nor will you....But...Lord willing, you'll be here long after I've gone. And as long as you remember me, then we'll always be together."

This Christmas remember something that I learned in Africa: "If you can walk, you can dance. If you can talk, you can sing." If you are dancing and singing it won't matter who is running for President, not even if that one candidate might be a last resort.

--J. C. Bowman is a public policy analyst who resides in Cleveland, TN..
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