July 4th, 2019: Time to Re-Launch Shrink the Government
July 4th, 2019, coinciding with Independence Day, celebrating the Declaration of Independence, I’m launching (again) Shrink the Government. The blog is associated with The Citizenism Initiative of The James Madison Project.
Where Shrink the Government was initially a stand-alone blog where I had planned to make psychologically informed observations about our politics, the reborn Shrink the Government will encompass a larger and more activist agenda and provide a treatment plan to support a number of initiatives. The activist plan includes the development and deployment of The Case Presentation, “My Political Tool Box for the 21st Century” to more effectively engage within the Political Ecosystem. There are many areas (symptoms) in our political landscape that would benefit from “Shrink the Government”. While improving our political environment is the goal, we will start by focusing on a very specific yet devastating problem, The Pain Opioid Epidemic, to “develop the civic muscle” and test our the approach which will then be applied to Cancer of the US Political System and other Diseases of the US Political System.
The effort is driven by the vision articulated in the principles that form the foundation of American democracy. The blog’s goal is to provide psychological insight into our politics. It will be closely associated with a framework, which I call Citizenism, to reclaim the role of the citizen in the political ecosystem. In addition to focusing on principles and theoretical aspects of Citizenism, we provide a tool box to help citizens more effectively engage within the body politic. Here is a brief description of my path to Citizenism.
Nearly a decade ago, shortly before the dawn of the Obama Presidency, I embarked on a political journey that focused on the state of our healthcare system. More specifically, as a psychiatrist working in the healthcare system and as a healthcare consumer troubled by the many challenges confronting individuals in accessing, affording and actually benefiting from our medical system. I quickly recognized, in the summer of 2009, that to have a meaningful impact one must engage the political system as a citizen. Over the next few years, citizen engagement became a hobby. I set up Shrink the Government as a framework to comment on political events using a psychological perspective. While I continued to focus on the healthcare system and how it can better serve us, I delved into the political foundations that bind us and the pathology that divides us. The process of learning more about the political foundations of our democracy has been energizing. The lessons learned and the connections forged have served me well. The many articles read, lectures, attended, courses taken, conversations and “heroes’ discovered have been essential for moving forward as I prepared for and cope with the Trump presidency.
One particularly informative guide has been the architect of our national government, James Madison. James Madison was concerned about the viability of the United States and alarmed by the role of the States in maintaining the Union and factions in threatening civil liberties. Madison with Hamilton and Washington laid the foundations for the constitutional convention and played a central role in designing the architecture (DNA) for the national government and principles as well as the revolutionary concept of allowing the people to ratify the constitution. As revolutionary as the efforts of the Founding Fathers were in establishing the framework for a representative national government, the structure of the organism they brought to the world lacks a “users manual” for citizens to most effectively assume their obligations and to be part of their government.
Citizenism provides an organizing structure for the efforts I have been engaged with. It is an ambitious, multi-year experiment that seeks to reclaim the centrality of “We the People of The United States” in public discourse and focus on government policy. Furthermore, the project’s goal is to explore and invigorate the reasons for our federal government as articulated in the US constitution: “in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity”. A key initiative of Citizenism is to explore a more foundational concept that inspired our founding fathers, and described by the Declaration of independence the vision that is at the heart of our nation…The Pursuit of Happiness…
As the role and funding of the health care system is once again emerging in our partisan political landscape it is my plan to re engage with the efforts of Citizens4health and the various initiative to make the health care system the best it can be and the political process that is undertaken healing for the nation. Starting with an invitation to create the vision and goals for the health care system, citizens4health provides a local platform, (HealthyPhilly,Montco Health for All) and Hospital watch.US.
I invite anyone that is interested in solutions to the challenges facing our democracy to joining our effort. Contact us
About the cartoon: Uncle Sam’s Complaint
Artist: Mr. Norman Dapito
Copyright: JumpStart Productions
The toxic political environment that has defined the past few years has increasingly contributed to more people becoming alienated and distrustful of our government. The blog shares my transformation from a passive, frustrated and increasingly alienated individual to becoming a passionate citizen actively seeking to contribute to the public good.
Shrink the Government is a blog that is part of Citizens4health, a citizen-focused initiative to contribute to the national dialogue reframe the health care and the debt debate into solutions that work for Americans. The blog’s content will be informed by the psychological framework to place a spotlight on the various stakeholders that are involved in the health care environment. Where possible the content will attempt to reframe the issues into challenges that can be debated. Utilizing facts that are verifiable, solutions that will work for Americans. The content will address timely issues as well as more conceptual topics. We invite individuals that share our vision and mission to take part in suggesting topics, posing questions, writing posts, and most importantly contributing to the conversation. With so much at stake for our nation, it's time to stop kvetching and start acting.
Anyone who follows the Washington political scene knows that the United States is in trouble. The most dire threat isn’t the “fiscal cliff” the substantial national debt or any global conflict. Our fundamental failure is that we, the people, have left the public space to politicians who are ultimately not guided by our interests. Citizens have been reduced to political consumers bombarded by expensive ads and media campaigns that provide choices only between similar brands of corporate agendas.
Shrink the Government
Grover Norquist favors dramatically reducing the size of the government. He has been noted for his widely quoted quip: "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." He has also stated, "Cutting the government in half in one generation is both an ambitious and reasonable goal. If we work hard we will accomplish this and more by 2025. Then the conservative movement can set a new goal. I have a recommendation: To cut government in half again by 2050". The Americans for Tax Reform mission statement is "The government's power to control one's life derives from its power to tax. We believe that power should be minimized."
WORD FOR THE DAY
Kvetch: plural kvetches)
A person who endlessly whines or complains.
A person who finds fault with anything.
The catastropherians tell us that our national economy is on the verge of bankruptcy, creating a crisis environment that will allow them to implement their ideologically driven agenda.
The labelizers bombard us with reductive slogans and sound bites that act to enrage us and distract us from straight forward information and analysis on issues that matter.
The spinmeisters are expert at framing issues in ways that deceive us into believing that they have our interests at heart. We, the citizens, are split into “good guys” and “bad guys” by the punditocracy who play us against each other, diverting our energies away from working toward meaningful solutions.
The politolobbyists, authorized by our founding fathers to represent us and seek solutions to problems that we cannot solve individually, are beholden to a campaign system that makes them responsive to donations rather than our needs. Politicians use their skill sets to ensure financial war chests at the cost of allowing lobbyists who support them free range of the legislative and regulatory functions of government. These politicians spend more time with their corporate patrons, then learning about pending legislation, and then complain they didn't have time to review the law they just voted on.