When Bigger Is Not Better

As the Republican presidential nominating process degenerates at a dizzying clip and personal recriminations against family members dominate the headlines it might be long past time to change the narrative. So let me offer the following: Note to Donald Trump, bigger is not always better! For instance, being the bigger misogynist is not a good idea, being the bigger jerk will only net you so many actual votes, and being the biggest talker will not make America great again.

We need to shift the dialogue, pay attention mainstream media, to focusing on those with the biggest ideas. Let us shift to the biggest thinkers. Unfortunately, the current political climate is far more focused on the politics of personal destruction instead of the promise of a brighter present and future. A big wall is not a big idea; it is hugely counterproductive. Claiming your ideas are great simply do not make them so, it only makes you look like the greater fool. Unleashing nuclear weaponry on an ideological enemy that neither controls defined territory nor a governmental structure and thrives on martyrdom defies any logical thought whatsoever. Whose side are you on anyway?

We as a society are so distressed over the state of political dysfunction that has been a direct result of a devastating rightward shift in the Republican party that we have lost any hope whatsoever that big ideas are possible. The hijacked GOP has turned the mantra that we are too inept to do anything constructive into a self-fulfilling prophecy. By doing so it has hamstrung not only "yes, we can" as a governing philosophy but any promise that center-right conservatives can do little more than obstruct, filibuster, and threaten governmental shutdowns. In short, we are in a deep and depressing funk because it has been seen as politically beneficial to one party to do so.

Making America great again can only succeed if we focus upon those things that made America great once and that is where the big thinkers must take center stage. Things like universal access to a quality education, a thriving middle class, world-class investment in infrastructure, and building a social structure that actually operates off the principles of equity, justice, fairness, and liberty. That is what made America great.

This is what made America the envy of the world. Big thinkers built a constitutional governmental framework that promoted freedom of press and speech, and unbound the shackles of religious intolerance. Big thinkers built a transcontinental railroad. Big thinkers created a Progressive Era that enabled governmental reforms that served the public interest. Big thinkers built bridges that connected societies rather than walls that kept them apart. Big thinkers replaced the horse and buggy with the internal combustion engine. Big thinkers formulated and implemented the invasion of Normandy that would rid the world of the scourge of fascist leaders and repressive governments. Big thinkers built the interstate highway system and promised to put a man on the moon and bring him back and eventually did it. Big thinkers created a State higher education system in California that opened the doors of opportunity to all students. Big thinkers marched from Selma to Montgomery. Big thinkers passed the Voting Rights Act, fair housing legislation, and ended school desegregation. Big thinkers brought the nations of Egypt and Israel to a peace agreement.

There are massive problems facing our society and none that cannot be fixed by big thinking. Big talking is cheap; ideas are the currency that need to be expended to get us moving in the right direction. Investment requires risk yet the risks of inaction far outweigh those that otherwise are possible. Bernie Sanders is a big thinker yet he is constantly subjected to doubts about his ability to actually pull those big ideas off. If that is the case then we need to marry the ideas with the individual who is capable of pulling it off. Regardless we need to first and foremost divorce ourselves from the notion that no matter what happens dysfunction will win in the end.

We have nothing to fear but the thought that fear is the most effective campaign strategy. We have nothing to fear but the thought that fear will prevent us from pursuing big ideas. We must embrace big ideas and big thinkers if we are to reverse the downward trajectory that many feel is inevitable. Truly the greatest fear we have is a big ego with a small brain, a big mouth that spews forth hate instead of inspiration, and a big bully with the bully pulpit.

For those who either simply repeat or actually believe that there is little difference between the front runners representing the two major parties it is imperative that you exercise your own brains and realize the largest structural counterweight to such a ridiculous proposition: simply put, Democrats believe that government has an important role to protect its citizens from the vagaries of an unfettered private marketplace and Republicans believe that government prevents the free market from realizing optimal profits. The precarious balance between capitalism and representative democracy has shifted back and forth over our short history but is currently dangerously out of balance. We must restore the balance in order to protect and enhance our citizens. That is what the Democratic party offers regardless who is at the helm.

The brilliance of the Founding Fathers was an effective system of checks and balances that prevents us from swinging wildly from one extreme to the other. Those professing to adore the Constitution while inciting radical systemic change are both confused and dangerous. You cannot have both, so choose which side you are on.