Your Government Won't Change...Unless, You Do.

What’s wrong with government? 

I know, you think you know the answer, but I’m pretty sure you don’t. Because the problem isn’t lobbyists, greedy politicians, lazy government workers or even Citizen’s United...

...it’s you.

I realize, you may not want to hear that, but not wanting to hear something doesn’t make it any less true. (Or entitle you to an “alternative” truth.)

If you don’t care or you care more about being right and blaming others than solving the problem, then just stop reading now. This piece will be a waste of your time.

But if you do care…if you’re horrified or even scared about the direction our government is currently headed and you want to do something about it...like really do something....then it’s time for a long hard look in the mirror.  Because...

Our government was designed to be responsive to the will of its people.

It’s true. The Founding Fathers did not include term limits in the Constitution, because they believed elections and the simple fact that elected officials would want to get reelected, would make them responsive to the will of their constituents. They, however, also expected, that we — “the people” — would take our government as seriously as they did.

We do not take government seriously.

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We Need a Reality Show to Help Us Pick Our President

I know you think I’m joking, but I’m really, really not. Although, I guess I should use the proper Emmy parlance and say we need a “realty-competition program” versus the voyeuristic hell currently masquerading as our democracy.

Make it work.

Why? Because I’m pretty sure anyone who’s seen fourteen episodes of Project Runway has a better sense of the contestants’ design skills — not to mention what it takes to be a top designer — than most Americans currently have about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton’s ability to be president…much less what the job of President of the United States actually entails. I’d say our process for selecting presidents makes about as much sense as holding a football game to determine America’s Next Top Model, but it’s worse than that.

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Don't Be a Billy

“ And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” — Matthew 7:26–27

You don’t have to believe in God or karma or another supreme governing force to know there’s a right way and a wrong way to build a house. The right way may be harder, take longer and require a lot more permits, but I have a feeling if you ask folks on the southern coast, who recently found themselves at the mercy of a hurricane named Matthew, they’ll tell you the extra time and energy is worth it.

When it comes to building other things — like careers and political majorities — there are, unfortunately, no instructions or building codes to follow. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t right ways and wrong ways to go about it. And while, yes, doing the right thing isn’t often the easiest or fastest way to get ahead, it is the best way to ensure that your future won’t one day be at the mercy of an orange-hued, wanna-be fascist with a god complex.

Billy Bush and Paul Ryan are learning that the hard way.

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Its's Not OK to Hate Hillary Clinton

Im not saying you have to like Hillary or vote for her for president. If you want to disagree with her policy positions or express concerns about her record and/or leadership style, I may not agree with you, but you have a right to your opinion.

But to hate her?

Hate is a singular sentiment. One that implies enmity or, as Freud put it, a “wish to destroy the source of unhappiness.” We’ve criminalized it. Religion calls it a sin. The Apostle John even went so far as to write that he “whoever hateth his brother is a murderer.”

Hate racism. Hate genocide. Hate people who kick puppies and scam seniors out of their life savings. But to hate a woman who has literally spent her life helping others… what’s wrong with you?

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Sorry, But You Don't Know What It's Like to Be a Cleveland Fan

This piece was originally published on The Cauldron @ Sports Illustrated:  https://thecauldron.si.com/im-sorry-but-you-don-t-know-what-it-s-like-to-be-a-cleveland-fan-a2199ba8cbda#.22geq4ytm 

Since the Cavaliers won the NBA Championship, more than a few people have suggested that the victory over the Golden State Warriors is to Cleveland what the 2004 World Series was to Boston.

I understand why the comparison is made, but please trust that I mean no disrespect to Boston fans when I say, there really is no comparison.

Yes, I am aware that the Red Sox went 86 years without winning the World Series, and I’m sure that sucked. But during those 86 years, the Celtics won the NBA Championship 16 times (!), the Bruins brought home five Stanley Cups and the Patriots won the Super Bowl three times. Before the final buzzer sounded in Oracle Arena, Cleveland had been the only city in the country with at least three professional sports franchises not to win a national championship — of any kind — in over 50 years.

That was 174 consecutive seasons that Cleveland fans watched and rooted only to have their team’s season end with some version of disappointment.

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How to Be a Great Public Speaker: Lesson One - Get Over Yourself

Stop picturing your audience in their underwear. 

Seriously.  Stop.  I don’t know where that advice originated or why it persists as the “thing-to-say” to nervous public speakers, but it needs to go away.  Like now. Really. Because, it’s really bad advice.  

In fact, it’s such awful advice that I think you should hold it personally responsible for every terrible speech you’ve ever had to suffer through or will one day be forced to politely applaud.

Why is it such terrible advice?  

Think about all of those terrible speakers you’ve had to endure: the boring speakers who lost you at hello…the lecturers who spoke in jargon and/or never looked up from their notes…the self promoters who saw every sentence as an opportunity to tell you how awesome or clever they are…the condescenders who seemed to resent you for lending them your ears…and – of course – the nervous Nellies whose fear of being seen as terrible public speakers actually makes them terrible public speakers. (No one enjoys watching someone who doesn’t want to be on stage.)

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Vote!

Good Morning. Go Vote. I'm serious.

Ever wonder why certain special interest groups -- like the NRA -- have so much influence over elected officials? I'll give you a hint: it's because their membership can be counted on to vote.

I know. I know. They also give a lot of money, but I'm going to let you in on a little secret that even my politico friends have to acknowledge.... Money has no direct power in politics. Yes, I know that sounds naive, but bear with me... Politicians aren't using campaign contributions to buy boats or trips to Rio. (Although - let's be honest - politicians who rail against money in politics don't mind if you think that's what their opponents are doing.) Instead, all that money is going to buy ads, mailings and get out the vote operations (or - in some cases - suppress the vote operations).

In other words, campaign cash has power because it buys a candidate/elected official the "theoretical ability to influence votes." And, do you know what has more power than the theoretical ability to influence voting? Actually voting.

Now, if you really want to push back on money in politics, then you should cast an educated ballot. In other words, don't let your vote be influenced by all of those campaign ads and slogans (Hint: the more you see an ad aired and the better its messaging, the more money that campaign likely has.) Take an hour or two to research all of the candidates and ballot measures in your district and take the cheat sheet into the voting booth with you (It's not a test, you're allowed.) And voila - if all those campaign ads stop influencing elections, then they no longer have power...Yeah, I know it's not that simple, but it's a start.

Beyond that, if you really want to make your vote count, take a picture of yourself and your "I voted" today sticker and let people know what influenced your vote (e.g. write your elected officials, blog, tweet, etc.) Let elected officials know what influences your vote...get enough like minded people to do the same and guess what? You've got yourself an influential special interest group. ; )

OK. Sorry for the rant, but every time I get an email from a candidate railing about the power of money in politics, I get ticked...and I get a lot of them so, now I'm really, rather ticked. I'm not just ticked because talking about the power of money in politics is largely a ploy to get me to give money, (seriously, what better way to get people to give money than to convince them money has power?) but because it leaves average, non-monied, voters with the impression that the system is stacked against them and there's no point getting involved...or even voting. Which is the exact opposite message we should be sending, because the single best way to push back on money in politics is to vote. So, please, go vote. I'm serious, it matters.

OK. Rant ended. Thanks for reading.


Why I'm Forgiving Lebron (Even Though I Told You I'd Never Forgive Him)

This morning a friend emailed me to ask what I thought of Lebron's announcement in Sports Illustrated.  (He and I worked together when Lebron announced he was "taking his talents to South Beach" and I swore I'd never forgive him.)  I don't claim to speak for everyone from Cleveland (I'm actually from a suburb of Akron) but this is what I wrote in response.  

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A few days ago my sister and I spent about 30 seconds talking about Lebron.  To be honest, I hadn't really been following "the Decision 2.0."  I'd read a story or two, but wasn't obsessed like I'd been four years ago.  My sister said the same thing.  We agreed that it just wasn't the same.  Sure, we said, it would be great if he returned to Cleveland, but we didn't think we'd ever love him the way we used to.  Some break-ups are just too painful.
 
I know it sounds silly to say I "loved" an athlete I've never met, but I think part of what made us all love Lebron was the fact that he gave Clevelanders (and those of us from Akron) something to be proud of.  

I mean, it sucks to grow up in a town that the rest of the world views as a punchline.  As long as I can remember, every time a sitcom needed an easy laugh, they'd have a character say he had to go to Cleveland (like that's the worst, imaginable fate.)  National sports broadcasters fill airtime with jokes about burning rivers.  You hear the phrase "mistake on the lake" so many times you start to think it yourself.  The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame may be in Cleveland, but the induction ceremonies are in NYC.  Even our football team wanted to play somewhere else.  We loved Lebron because he gave us something to be proud of.....no, there's a lot to be proud of in Cleveland...he gave us something the rest of the world envied.  Other towns may have world class hospitals and universities, but they didn't have Lebron.  We did.

So, when he left, after a dramatic "will-he-or-won't-he" build-up -- in which every prognosticator (including all of my non-Ohio friends) basically said: "Why would anyone want to live in Cleveland?" -- it felt like a betrayal.  Not only was he telling all the haters they were right -- that no one with options would ever willingly stay in the cliche that is our home town -- he did it in an hour-long, nationally televised special.  It sucked and I didn't think I'd ever forgive him for it  That is, until I read his sports illustrated explanation (as told to Lee Jenkins).

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