Healing America’s Narratives: Money, Elections, Democrats, Republicans, & Money

[Part of a series, this essay explores aspects of the idiocy that characterize America’s two-party approach to political campaigns. Healing America’s Narratives: The Feminine, the Masculine, & Our Collective National Shadow. Now available.]

Photo © by Maria Thalassinou on Unsplash

Note: I am an unaffiliated voter — I am a member of neither the Republican nor the Democratic party. I used to be a member of one of them, and am still more generally aligned on most issues with that party. This essay captures the essence of why I dropped my membership with one party and why I would never become a member of the other party.

From October 20, 2022 through the publication of this essay, I received over 500 emails asking me for money in support of candidates for office in states in which I do not live. More than 300 of those emails came after election day, November 8, and specifically asked for money regarding the Georgia Senate runoff. I also received a significant number of snail mail documents — all of which were focused on local elections for the town, state, and national districts in which I actually live.

Between October 21 and November 5, I made four modest (two-figure) contributions to the campaigns of candidates whose positions on most issues I generally agree with. Despite the 300-plus emails that arrived in my inbox after election day, and despite my strong support for one of the two Georgia Senate candidates, I did not contribute to the runoff campaign.

Here’s why, and this is equally applicable to the Democratic and Republican parties and their leadership: if you really believe that the only way you can win and govern is by telling me multiple times a day you need another $250,000 by tonight’s (and tomorrow’s and the next day’s…) deadline — amounts and deadlines that you conjured within a system that you created— and that you’re counting on my $35 or $45 or $75 (which you’re willing to quadruple!!!) in order to outspend the other party’s extensive fundraising; and if you’re going to continue to ask me for money multiple times a day WHETHER OR NOT I MAKE A CONTRIBUTION this time; and if your requests are characterized by BOLD AND CAPS and yellow highlights (which I can’t reproduce here), then you must think I’m an idiot (I’m not, for the most part). Those highlighting tactics are consistent with what used to be used on late-night television commercials for kitchen gadgets, pain-relief gadgets, and OTHER important and REALLY good DEALS! They may still be used, but I don’t stay up late anymore.

Plus, if you can actually quadruple all those modest contributions, why do you need them at all? Just use the cash you already have on hand for quadrupling. The problem is that you (Republican and Democratic leadership) make the case that what’s needed to save the country (from each other) is more money from me and other citizens. You use this money for advertising. You advertise using hyperbole, insult, and distorted photos of your opponents (i.e. each other).

What the hell is wrong with you?

Yes, I understand that you wouldn’t be behaving as you do if you didn’t have research-based evidence that it works on American voters who suffer from civic (and other types of) ignorance.

Here’s one specific example — my views on a letter I received from a candidate in a race to represent me in Congress. The lowlight of this particular letter was the candidate’s (or his handlers’) attempts to associate his opponent with the “defund the police” folks. His opponent’s spouse is a veteran police detective. That’s a rather tame example, but it makes the point.

So again, I ask, what the hell is wrong with you?

Healing America’s Narratives: The Inevitability of the Current Mood of the United States

[Part of a series, this essay explores the inevitability that surfaced amid the research for and writing of Healing America’s Narratives: The Feminine, the Masculine, & Our Collective National Shadow. Now available.]

Photo © by tom coe on Unsplash

If we begin with Jamestown, Virginia in 1607 and work our way forward through each day since then, especially those days not included in some of the more (in)famous years like 1619, 1776, 1787, 1830, 1865, 1868, 1920, 1945, 1964, 2001, 2003 (et cetera)¹ and into our current state of affairs in the third decade of the twenty-first century, where we are as a country is inevitable. Said differently, our ignorance, arrogance, fear, bigotry, violence, greed, excess, bullying, and untrustworthiness are not surprising.

In his Pulitzer Prize-winning A Bright Shining LieNeil Sheehan wrote this about the 1968 My Lai massacre in Vietnam:

“What Calley and others who participated in the massacre did that was different was to kill hundreds of unarmed Vietnamese in two hamlets in a single morning and to kill point-blank with rifles, pistols, and machine guns. Had they killed just as many over a larger area in a longer period of time and killed impersonally with bombs, shells, rockets, white phosphorous, and napalm, they would have been following the normal pattern of American military conduct. The soldier and the junior officer observed the lack of regard his superiors had for the Vietnamese. The value of Vietnamese life was systematically cheapened in his mind…. The military leaders of the United States, and the civilian leaders who permitted the generals to wage war as they did, had made the massacre inevitable.”²

Sheehan’s words indict the worst of leadership that arise through unhealthy masculine energy. Be it military or civilian, local, state, or national, such leadership renders inevitable, or at least highly likely, horrors such as My Lai in 1968; the mutilation and slaughter of Cheyenne men, women, and children at Sand Creek in 1864; the massacre of Lakota men, women, and children at Wounded Knee in 1890; the more than 6,000 lynchings of blacks between 1865 and 1950; the incineration of Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Greenwood district in 1921; the degradations of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo in the post-9/11 war on terror; and the incessant gun violence in the U.S. Among other examples.

In response to a school shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan, two members of the U.S. House of Representatives³ created Christmas photo cards, posing their families holding assault rifles in front of Christmas trees in 2021 in support of the weapons commonly used in U.S. Congress-enabled mass shootings. Evidently, these folks were channeling the intersection of what Jesus meant when he said “Love one another,”⁴ and what the framers had in mind when they penned the Second Amendment.

That’s a small sample of evidence regarding the inevitability of our current culture of violence. What about greed and excess, you ask? A country built on slave and peasant labor, sweatshops, migrant workers, and now cheap international labor renders inevitable a 2022 second quarter report that the wealthiest 1% of Americans own 31.1% of the nation’s wealth; the top 10% own 68%; and the bottom 50% own 3.2% (the 40% of Americans who fall between the bottom 50% and the top 10% own 28.9%). Said differently, the top 10% of Americans own more than twice (68%) of what the bottom 90% own (32%). This is like saying that the folks in Texas and Montana (together about 10% of the nation’s population) own more than twice as much wealth as the rest of the country. In a nation where owning and having things is important, this is a big deal.

Here’s one more juxtaposition: the defense industry — those companies that build and maintain the weapons and infrastructure of war and everyday violence, and the insurance-pharmaceutical-medical-government-finance-lobbying industry (euphemistically referred to as healthcare in the U.S.) are both for-profit endeavors. Need more deterrence, want to go to war, or choose to keep assault weapons available to our huddled masses? Cha-ching. Need to attend to the physical and psychological effects of war, everyday violence, and active shooter drills for school children? Cha-ching. Need to make sure none of this changes? Have more lobbyists in D.C. (more than 700) than there are members of Congress (currently 535 when all seats are filled).

The above are selected, limited examples, painted with broad brush strokes. For more specific information, see Healing America’s Narratives: The Feminine, the Masculine, & Our Collective National Shadow.


  1. Briefly: 1619 (initial delivery of enslaved Africans to what is now Virginia by the British); 1776 (U.S. Declaration of Independence); 1787 (U.S. Constitution); 1830 (Congress passes “Indian Removal” Act); 1865 (Civil War ends; 13th Amendment passed); 1868 (14th Amendment passed; Second Fort Laramie Treaty); 1920 (19th Amendment passed); 1945 (U.S. drops two atomic bombs on Japan; World War II ends); 1964 (Civil Rights Act passed); 2001 (September 11 terrorist attacks on U.S.); 2003 (U.S. preemptively attacks Iraq).
  2. Neil Sheehan, A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam, (New York: Random House, 1988), 689–90.
  3. Lauren Boebert (R-Colorado) and Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky): https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/christmas-card-guns-lauren-boebert-thomas-massie-start-new-culture-ncna1285709
  4. For younger readers: Christmas began as a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and had nothing to do with retail sales, garishly decorated real and fake trees, and assault weapons.