Larry Bradley’s Ezine #363 What Are the Political Lessons of the NBA Finals?

Weekly Ezine #363

What Are the Lessons of the Brexit Vote?
What Are the Political Lessons of the NBA Finals?

Notice: The thoughts offered in this Ezine are not intended to either support or oppose any individual candidate for the 2016 election. The thoughts are, instead, (as always) intended to demonstrate the inadequacy of our current election processes and offer solutions to make those processes better.

We will not publish an Ezine next weekend. Enjoy your Fourth of July Holiday.

What Are the Lessons of the Brexit Vote?

Yesterday’s vote by Great Britain to exit (Brexit) the European Union (EU) was nothing short of astounding. The response was astounding, too, especially in a financial sense. Stock markets dropped in value, as well as the British Pound against the Dollar. Such a response was predicted if the vote went as it did. Yet, as Charlie Rose noted on “CBS This Morning” the day after the vote, voters voted for exit anyway. http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-klaas-dirsus-leave-victory-in-britain-20160623-snap-story.html

Most Americans have never been to Europe or, if they have, have done so for short duration trips. Their appreciation for the EU is, therefore, limited. Why is the EU important?

The EU is important because of something we Americans take for granted. If you live in a city like Kansas City, Omaha or St. Louis there is a complete other state just across the river. Getting to that other state is no big deal. There is no Customs inspection to go through. There is basically only one language you have to know how to speak. There may be different dialects and accents to deal with, but you are using the English language. Nor do you have to get a different type of money in the other state. There is also only one currency in each of the 50 states and the world is becoming so sophisticated that today you don’t need actual green paper. You just need plastic.

All of these free flowing conveniences used to be in stark contrast to what it was like to live in Europe. Now language still changes, of course, but there is a strong effort among all the member countries to have its citizens learn to speak a second language, usually English. Europeans formed first the Common Market, and then EU, in an attempt to emulate what America had in facilitating the flow of people, goods and currency.

Highly surprising, then that the British would want to get away from that system. Perhaps the vote is another illustration of Harry Truman’s saying that, “There’s nothing new in the world. There’s only all the history you don’t know.”

We are an advocate of change, but we think this is an example of change without taking into account the potential for unintended consequences.

Politically, we offer these thoughts. First, if the vote was seen as a protest over the unresponsiveness of both British and EU elected officials to voter concerns, then perhaps Britons need to consider some of the approaches to Election Reform we offer here.

Second, we think contrasting the British election system to our own over the next few months will be highly instructive. We’ve already seen one aspect of the Parliamentary form of government we might wish for. British Prime Minister David Cameron resigned in the aftermath. Cameron had been for staying in the EU. His resignation shows a quality we might wish for in America’s system. Rather than saying, “The people have spoken and I will do my best to comply with their wishes,” Cameron instead said (in essence), “The people have spoken in error and I refuse to be a party to a continuation of the error.” Note, too, how quickly the election is held.

One aspect to watch in the coming election might be how the candidates campaign. Will they campaign to be advocates for hastening the withdrawal from the EU? Or will they campaign to obstruct the withdrawal? And if the obstructionists win, will that mean that a majority of voters did not intend for Brexit to succeed, but failed to vote and this is an attempt at a do-over?

And finally, will Scotland and Ireland (who wanted to remain in the EU) seek their own referendum to separate from Great Britain and remain in the EU?

Ain’t politics fun?

What Are the Political Lessons of the NBA Finals?

Sports and other venues sometimes offers us the opportunity to model behavior we wish we saw more often and more consistently in politics. We have such an opportunity today.

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers became the first National Basketball Association (NBA) team to ever get behind one game to three in the best of seven games NBA Finals and come back to win. They managed that feat against the NBA team who just this year set the record for most regular season wins, the Golden State Warriors.
The Cavaliers began by losing the first two games in the series. Click on the link and listen to James’ post-game two interview. The coach is on camera first. Catch James at about 1:10 in. http://www.nba.com/video/channels/playoffs/finals/2016/06/06/0041500402-cle-presser.nba/
Note the absence of blaming? Note the language of problem solving? No bad mouthing of opponents, referees, or teammates? Instead, the focus is on—What we are doing isn’t working. We need to find out why that is and fix it.
Now listen to James in a post-game seven victory interview when they’ve won the championship. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a65zEFRQAuo Start watching at about 1:40 if you don’t want to watch the whole thing.
What do you hear from the clip? He answers the question, “What did you do to come back from being down three games to one?” He in essence says he watched the tape of the previous games, he found adjustments he needed to make, and he made them. The result? He’s a champion. Again.
Now, why was he able to do that? He was able to do that because he was working within a system that not only allowed him to make the kind of brutally honest assessments he had to make, but indeed demanded he make those assessments. And the adjustments. Otherwise he was going to be a member of one of those teams who was unable to overcome a 3-1 deficit.
Now, what does this mean to you politically? What it means to you politically is the Election System we’re using won’t allow the people we elect to operate with the kind of brutal honesty LeBron James used. Two examples.
I had a friend post a reminder of how partisan we are, how us vs. them we are. He had brought it up with me before, but his posting reminded me of it and I want to bring it to your attention.
My friend recalled the hearing the Congress held about the accusation that Major League pitcher Roger Clemens had used steroids. Clemens’ trainer said Clemons had. Clemons denied it. And so Congress was having a hearing trying to get at the truth of the matter. This was not a political issue. You would expect there would be a mix of officials from both sides, with some siding with Clemons and others favoring the trainer. Not that day. One side of the aisle took Clemons’ side and the other took the trainer’s.
If that’s not proof of how screwed up we are, that we can’t impartially evaluate a matter like this, then I don’t know what is.
Similarly, I had another friend do another impartial posting comparing Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. I posted it on my Blog. http://blog.thecenterstrikesback.org/?p=103 If you’re on Facebook, I invite you to look up his posting and the commentary he got as a result.
Why do I bring up my friend’s comparison? Because if Clinton and Trump are the best are two major parties are able to do in providing a choice to vote for, then don’t we need a system that will give us a competitive choice beyond that of those two parties?
If you are brutally honest with yourself, as James was with himself, then your assessment has to be that the answer to that question is yes. The next question is do you have what it takes to participate in making the adjustments needed to change our political system? Will you and your friends get involved in making the Election Systems changes needed? Will we make the changes needed so we will have elected representatives who will apply that same brutal honesty to assessing our problems and making the adjustments needed to fix those problems?
Will we be Champions? Or will we be the Americans who folded and failed to do what was necessary to win?

See you next time.

Regards,

Larry

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