David Hamilton


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How to run a winning campaign... in any democracy.

As the elections come to a close in my nation... The politicians of the future, are building their campaign for 2014, and 2016. Most of them, already hold office, and simply want a larger one, so they will spend most of their time, meeting with people who can help them accomplish that goal, and crafting a series of platforms, positions, and arguments for and against legislation already on the docket, in a way that will appeal to the largest number of voters in their district.

Some will also write legislation, and attempt to make changes, through governance... but for the most part, this is the accepted way of gaining popularity, and moving into a higher position of power... I propose a different way.

You wish to be elected to the United States Congress, in your district, and you promise to do x, y, and z… Well… Who’s stopping you? You want a better local education system… What’s your model? Build a school. When it works better, then maybe I’ll trust you to fix education. You want to be head of the water board… Well, what are they doing wrong? Do you have a well? How do you filter your water? How many people in the community does it serve?

The campaign of the future... Should be perpetual. If you want to hold office in 2014, your quest should begin now. Create a volunteer network, designed around creating a stronger connection between citizens in your district, fixing problems, not when you get elected... NOW. Your network will not cold call, or buy advertising, it will inspire citizens to take action fixing broken aspects of their community.

How? You create a charity organization, or super pac, I know I hate them too. A charity infused with your political platform, which you use to fund raise, and solve problems in the area you wish to govern. The only advertising you do, is on the ground helping people, fixing problems, and creating social work jobs, in the district you wish to govern. Then try to stop people from voting for you.

  • Oct 21 2012: As a very young politician (student's council president) I will give my opinion. I just try to do what is best for my school and to "follow" what I proposed I would do when I got elected. What happens? Most People just don't understand most things I do, others don't agree with what I do, most of them don't understand that long run policies will only be visible in the long run and the vast majority just don't care.I think that it is about perception as well. It is about communication and the way news are presented to you. My personal experience at school is at a much lower scale what happens in governments. So, I think that it would be great if we all got to be presidents for a day and try to see how hard it is to govern.

    Most people just criticize that things are not done. But why? Maybe congress is not passing the laws, maybe there is not enough budget, maybe there were some other things that turned out to be priorities in the middle of the way. I think that something that needs to be taken into account are the WHYS.

    My utopian view about government is one where humans are not in power. If you don't like something or you want to put something forward, you'll go to your local "government machine" and submit your complaint, idea whatever. The machine processes the information, and if there is a vast majority of people asking for more streetlights it is done. The machine automatically balances the budget and evaluates what is feasible and what is not.

    This way we would get rid of emotional, self interested, money driven, liar, unfair, and even stupid humans that are just that, too human to govern.
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      Oct 22 2012: My main point, is simply, that if you can get enough people to rally around your good ideas, and vote for you to implement them in government.... Shouldn't you then, be just as capable of encouraging those volunteers to actually implement some of your programs and solutions. There are 1,000s of people sitting in a phone bank somewhere, calling people at random, trying to convince them to vote... Probably hundreds of thousands... Why aren't they volunteering at schools, or volunteering to help the EPA, or farming food for the hungry?

      I think we can do better. The same would be true at a small level in student council. You have a great idea to help the school. Get a few people who agree with you to actually implement that change... Without any help, or vote, etc, just gather the resources to accomplish your goal. If someone running for president next year was doing that... I'd lay good odds on them to win that election.

      I'm not a fan of the idea of a machine governing my life... A machine would certainly outlaw vice, and... good luck with that.
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    Oct 15 2012: I think we all crave politicians that fit our individual mold. We all have different opinions on what values a "real American" has. It's funny that we all assume our beliefs are universal when this planet is full of choices and an abundance of diversity. The only real focus we can all agree on is forward progress in relation to humanitarian actions and systems.

    Our government has a responsibility to foresee potential conflict. If we intend to base our countries choices on what we want right now...we fail to consider what our children's children may need. Our government is a very sensitive organism. Its power is only present through cooperation of the people. We vote and obey laws to facilitate organization and progress.

    The creation of laws is not usually a tool for campaigns. Legislation can have unforeseeable long-term impacts. Therefore, it is risky to create laws as a means of boosting your credibility. Unless of course you created a law that actually worked. Then you would definitely take credit for it.

    Our government isn't meant to be flexible. We do use precedent in our courts and in the creation or application of laws. However, we also have politicians that spend hours debating word-usage and the ramifications of a proposed bill twenty years from now. Therefore, changing anything about our government is rather difficult.

    The real problem with elections is nobody pays attention. People base their views on the media and have no real grasp on local elections. We fill our congress with people elected by lobbyists in each state. We do not make an attempt to educate our youth on the importance of local and state elections.

    It is our fault. The politicians are feeding us what we ask for. They are elected officials. That means they are a direct reflection of you and me. Our government is primed for change. We just haven't figured out the correct way to do it.

    We live in a world of cause and effect. How do you change our government?

    Elect the right people.
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      Oct 15 2012: I do not believe that "we all assume our beliefs are universal." I think it is more typical to believe that there are vast seas of others whose beliefs are different and wrong.
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      Oct 19 2012: I agree with your description of the situation, I am proposing my vision for a solution. We should begin to require action from our politicians, before electing them. Society should seek out leaders changing things... Rather than listening to nonsense. I think if you set up the right organization, people will follow it.
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    Oct 13 2012: So they'd be applying for an actual job, not a hideout?
  • Oct 12 2012: This is a very good idea and I wish more politicians would adopt this model however I think the system is simply incompatible for this kind of action. People who are dedicated enough to create and maintain community-changing projects such as the ones you suggest usually do so because they simply have a yearning to help people. I personally don't believe that any politician who is "political" enough to be considered for a major election is doing so because they want to directly help people.
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      Oct 13 2012: Well... That's our fault then, and we need to fix that problem. No one who hasn't solved community problems, deserves a position of power in our community... It is that simple in my mind, that's why all of our leaders are so horrible.
  • Oct 27 2012: Is there anyone normal who doesn`t want to start own campaign ?
  • Oct 19 2012: Excuse me!
    You need food, medical, housing, education, etc.
    Can you wait a few years more for food? I promise if elected I will then build a model that I have already begun building in my head to solve this most pressing problem. Promise. If all goes well and according to plan, you'll have food and clean water to drink even though no one is doing anything about the water. On that issue I just trust in God and have faith that all will work out.

    Quote from Andres Aullet: " Main problem with politicians is that they don't really know how to "do" the things that ultimately help or affect the electorate."

    That is so correct and that is why politicians are irrelevant to solving the problems of America. They not only do not know how to, are not trained to, they also have no intention of doing so. Frothy appeal, pleading and even demanding does not, has not, and will not, work.

    One should ditch what is irrelevant and doesn't work. Actually, hasn't worked for decades.
    You cannot get what you want here with a system that is primed and tilted for unethical, dishonest, greedy, selfish and evil behavior. You just can't.

    Quote from Henry Woeltjen: "The real problem with elections is nobody pays attention."
    Wrong. The real problem with elections is that voting doesn't work. It too is irrelevant in that regard. To continue to believe that voting works, is to continue to see the truth right before your eyes and then to deny it to yourself.

    Henry also went on to say, "Elect the right people." The right people rarely come along and are truly part of the electoral/debate process. If someone comes along, they are marginalized, pushed aside and kept out of the mainstream media except as a punch line. And if there is a third choice that could be taken or written in, Americans never take the chance because they prefer lies and the fear that goes with those lies as their all too comforting security blanket.
    A blanket they will sorely need when more lose all they have to the rich.
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      Oct 22 2012: I am proposing a new model... One in which politicians first solve problems through volunteer networks... Then run for office... I am proposing an end to the promises. Thus, I don't know who your comment is directed at.
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    Oct 19 2012: David,

    You are correct. Main problem with politicians is that they don't really know how to "do" the things that ultimately help or affect the electorate.

    Their main function nowadays is to channel money they collect from people into projects that may or may not even have merit

    But here is a different proposal for your consideration:

    Let the politicians do what they do today, namely create budgets with estimated costs of certain projects, and propose legislation initiatives

    But now, build a voting and collection system by which each voting individual can decide which legislation initiatives they support, as well as which budget items they want their taxes applied to.

    That would not only streamline the politicians agenda (large scale lobbying would lose some power, for example), but it would also encourage real individual involvement in the decision making process

    yes i know... too idealistic... but hey! it is past midnight, i am allowed to dream!

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      Oct 22 2012: It's a nice idea... but I think mine is a bit simpler. At least 20% of Americans are completely fed up with the electoral process in general... I think we just need those people to start running for office, by creating volunteer networks designed to solve problems. Once they have proven solutions, the people who currently "represent" us, will simply look obsolete and incompetent... The people did a better job of solving the problem without them. It's certainly not simple, or easy, but still it may be the path of least resistance.
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    Oct 14 2012: As a politician the most important thing is to be in touch with the electorate. Know their needs and aspirations, and prepare yourself to meet the needs; then, your plans should be presented to them via the available communication platforms.
    As John Smith has rightly stated, there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
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      Oct 15 2012: I think you point to the key problem I'm getting at Feyisayo... but it lies below the surface... No where, in your definition of what is important to a politician, do you say anything about the actual acts of engaging in the labor to help people in your local community. Nowhere do you talk about a politician spending his money in the local area employing people implementing the actual reforms, and yet often, these people have the money and free time to engage in these activities "on the ground", if you will. The generals no longer ride in with the troops, so to speak.

      To be a bit tangential... We often, in my country, and others hear of Christian politicians... Yet I have never met one who started as a carpenter... Not one who feeds the poor, or builds parks with their own hands. The disconnect which exists between politics, wealth, and actual labor doing good deeds, is enormous... and my country is not alone in this problem. I think it has been so long, since we've seen a wealthy and powerful person, truly dedicate themself to spending 40 hours a week laboring to help the community, we have forgotten what a leader of citizens should look like...
  • Oct 13 2012: If the question is about "any democracy", not just the US, then there is no one size fits all answer. Many countries have public campaign funding, some don't, some allow super PACs, some don't, some require disclosure of all funding and its sources, some don't, some societies just want stability, some want radical change, some are heavily polarized, some vote based on ethnic or religious lines, some vote based on socio-economic class, some respect politicians a great deal, some want anti-establishment loud mouths, some countries have winner-takes-all systems, many have a popular vote, some have an elected head of state, some don't, etc...
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      Oct 13 2012: I don't think there are any nations that have completely outlawed private charities contributing to the health and well being of the people. If there are such democracies... Step 1, change that.

      Anywhere private charity is legal, this could be used as winning philosophy, though obviously one must be wary of the legal issues involving being the head of both the charity and the campaign... but still... I'm not describing the type of activities which many democracies would prohibit.

      This is the type of thing, that I think would work best, for a mildly successful member of a small community. If you live in a small town, and can get the ball rolling with a few thousand dollars, I think you could easily take a run at local politicians through charitable action in the community. In building a network of people valued by the community, volunteering at the schools, filling in pothole, teaching prisoners how to read etc... you will create an image which is not based on rhetoric, or promises, and will be almost impossible to defeat using modern political strategy.

      I think it could work on a larger scale as well, but obviously it becomes more difficult, as the scale of charity to have an impact on the common person becomes much greater.
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    Oct 13 2012: I would add... If you want to run for office, and create a legitimate political change in the modern world... You need to create the type of active, engaged, and involved citizenship in your community, that should already exist. From that, will stem your election.
  • Oct 13 2012: Perhaps, 3 lessons for any politicians in any countries.

    1. Be smooth when it comes to dealing with what you’ve missed or what you've lied.
    2. With lots of promises, make a good impression that would last for a while—in the mean time, you'd prepare another plan for making your images more trustworthy without lifting your finger to keep those promises.
    3. Lastly, try to look better than your rivals. See if you can find out their other weak points.

    Which all shouldn't be what they keep in mind in the first place if we look forward to some changes...
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      Oct 13 2012: One lesson for the people of any country... You don't need to put up with that anymore.
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    Oct 13 2012: Tell the people what they want to hear. Then live with the consequences of a tyranny of democracy. OR learn the voters some stuff in fact make it a prerequisite to vote.

    Fund raising is almost non stop for most politicians. Which has it's obvious problems.
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      Oct 13 2012: I think that actions are better advertising, than TV ads... It's a risky bet in the modern world, I know, but I truly believe that, especially at the local level, you could better spend your money helping the community now, than showing them how you're going to help them in four years. I think if some young, open minded, politicians willing to break a sweat, take this advice... They could win office in 2016, maybe even 2014.
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        Oct 13 2012: You are talking about using Public Relations and of course politicians use PR but when O spent a billion dollars on advertising to get elected PR just isn't going to do the job.

        IMO we need a better educated constituency even here on TED most are ignorant to the economics of what they espouse. The problem is that most people are asleep with no real desire to wake up. The bigger problem is that when the United States falls the entire world is going to fail with it.
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          Oct 13 2012: I am saying, that Barack Obama, in total, brought together over 2 million volunteers around the world... Imagine if he had continued fundraising, and given them actual direction, as a not for profit organization, building schools, and green makovering government buildings to save money... Imagine if the millions of Americans who enjoyed his speech, continued to volunteer for the community, in a directed way for the last 4 years... This election wouldn't even be close.

          If someone really wants to do good for their community, they need to do it... The election should be an afterthought. The most important task is bringing together volunteers who believe in your solutions to problems and are willing to help you experiment with them... That is real leadership. Someone who can do that, will dominate modern political strategy, in almost any nation... Is what I'd bet on.
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        Oct 13 2012: How many does any candidate bring together? I'm sure O brought more than most as he was a novelty at the time. I contend that novelty is over and he cannot bring that many volunteers together this time especially after some of the shenanigans of ACORN have been exposed.
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          Oct 13 2012: How many does any candidate bring together? Way less... No one has brought together the volunteers Barack did, since Bobby and John.

          As you suggest, it has shrunk dramatically, though the NDAA, and no public option for health insurance, have far more to do with it than ACORN. How that's even on your radar as important, is a bit beyond me, but to each their own. This is neither a plug for, nor a dig on the President of the United States.

          My point is very simple, someone who can mobillize volunteers and donations, on that level, has incredible potential to actually fix problems, without ever obtaining the instrument of government power. No one currently uses their volunteers in the manner I describe. With the right money, and organization however, I believe this is a winning strategy, especially in the local square. Start fixing problems with people of like mind, then run on your success.
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        Oct 13 2012: Any organization has to have a purpose. A volunteer program without purpose will not work. If your only answer is to do good and fix problems that is not good enough and already done by many volunteer organizations. The reason the candidate organizations exist is to get the candidate elected, once the election is over so is the need for the organization.
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          Oct 13 2012: "The reason the candidate organizations exist is to get the candidate elected, once the election is over so is the need for the organization. "

          You have stated the problem quite elegantly... I am suggesting the solution. What if the people who wanted a public option, and education reform, just started showing up at hospitals, and schools, to volunteer on behalf of their candidate? I think that would be a positive change. Right now those volunteers call you at dinner and say "are you planning to support x"... Seems like a waste of their time.
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        Oct 13 2012: I'm not trying to piss on your parade but it just won't work it violates the way organizations are made.

        Use the TED conversations for example, how many people come and go from this site? IMO most, meaning very few come back for any length of time. How many visit the videos? 50 k to a million each how many go to conversation linked to the site? a handful.

        How come? because the videos align with the purpose of TED the conversations don't.

        The purpose is to teach and learn something which occurs when you have experts discussing the subject. It does not when you just have a soap box for someone to opine. There are some people on the TED conversations who I have learned a lot from but they are the minority.
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          Oct 14 2012: I agree, Pat, that people learn most reliably from experts, provided those experts express themselves in understandable ways. But people can also learn from those who know more than they do about a subject even if the person is not an expert.
          Many discussions, then, have such potential.
          What is tricky and either takes some education or a "good nose" is to recognize who actually does have a solid understanding in an area and who actually doesn't. It is the same issue people confront in examining published sources to distinguish expertise and sound evidence from something that isn't there yet or is actually only marketing.

          I know, David, this is off the course of your discussion. Forgive me for that.
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          Oct 15 2012: I understand your sentiment... but... you're incorrect on the "it violates the way organizations are made"... I am suggesting a new model for campaigning, one in which you start a private sector charity, dedicated to improving your local community through civic involvement. Your charities goal is to create a stronger community, and distribute volunteership to various sectors of the public works with very simple universal principles.

          You then run for office on the same platform... Nothing illegal about it. In fact, most societies would love it.
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        Oct 14 2012: Your point about them being a good teacher is well taken.

        I'm not sure that most people have the good nose that you speak of.

        The good nose imo would come from the touch stone of conceptual understanding and how to use the ideas in application.
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        Oct 15 2012: David

        I disagree. I have said all that I have to say about this.
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    Oct 13 2012: Main problem with the idea as I see it is that the assumption is being made that the candidate's actions would be able to be assessed with NO possibility of outside influence taken place. Won't happen, even with the ideology that a "totally impartial assessment authority" could be put it place to make the judgment of the candidate's "actions" and "results" in the past. You aren't talking about forming an organization like Consumer's Reports that judge the validity of a product-producer's claims about their product. The type of organization being proposed would be subject to much criticism of it's judgements itself.

    I agree with Fritzie...actions speak louder than words.

    But words can also make the most successful actions look like the implementor of those actions was a moron, as long as the general public is succeptable to propaganda. That's the way all political campaigns are conducted today. Regardless of how good an opponant's previous actions may have been, their opponant is going to "say" (use words) whatever is necessary to make those actions look like they ended up as disasters.

    I'm not convinced any "judgement organization" could maintain total impartiality in the judgement process. They would be just as succeptable to outside influence. Or at the least, the ACCUSATION of outside influence (propaganda if the accusations were not factual), just like many politicians today are accused of being influenced by lobbyists and/or special interest groups (which can and does happen).
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      Oct 13 2012: I don't propose any judgement organization... I am saying, that if you can solve community problems, and help people, right now, they will vote for you when you run for office... If you build it... They will come.
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        Oct 13 2012: David, my bad on the location of my post. I meant it to be a reply to Roberto Garcia's post where he recommended it. I didn't notice where it got placed in the thread after I posted it. It's out of sequence in the thread and wasn't directed at your original topic.
  • Oct 13 2012: We are seeing several different models in America.With modern advertising - Who knows? However, I've always wondered about coalitions and different viewpoints. Multiple views may merely become two party negotiations See Raiffa. I am wondering - If we want the Parate Party in the U.S. maybe it could be something like the Tea Party. Would it become part of the Dems. or Reps.? Now that's politics.
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      Oct 13 2012: Eww... Why would anyone ever listen to a Democrat or a Republican again after the last 12 years?
  • Oct 13 2012: I would propose, a set of "Accomplishment Standards". And it goes like this:
    Candidate A wants to run for president, during his campaign Mr. A proposes a major change in the school system, proposes building roads bridges, better salaries etc..
    well according to the Accomplishment Standards System i am proposing.
    Candidate A must certify his set of proposals.
    if Candidate A is elected he will go through constant auditing. To check if he is accomplishing what he promises before being elected. If after a fixed period of time President A has not made what he promised. The Accomplishment Standards Committee has the authority to remove President A from the White House and call for new elections. I know this sounds weird and even funny. But when a politician wins a seat he knows he will stay there for the next 4 or n of his period if nothing bad happens. Even if he does not accomplishes even 1 of his campaign promises he will stay there. But what if there is a legal way to take out the Politicians that don't stand for the promises they gave to the voters?
    There are sets of standards for everything ISO, ANSI, ASTM, IEC, And the world of politics works like an underground organization under no standards.
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      Oct 13 2012: I like the sentiment... but that sounds like a government board that would have way too much power. I simply think humanity should no longer tolerate "community leaders"... who have not yet accomplished anything of meaning for the community. I think we need to encourage people who already know how to solve problems to run for office, to move their solutions to a larger scale. Otherwise we might as well be electing people for "Best Actor in a Drama".
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    Oct 12 2012: Many people would give the same advice to job seekers. Rather than polishing up how you describe what you can do, show something relevant and of consequence that you have done recently. Actions speak louder than words.
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      Oct 13 2012: Yet, for some reason, in this country... We expect less of politicians, than we do of the unemployed, hehe.
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        Oct 13 2012: There is a thought. What if we all decided to expect much more of ourselves than we do of others and were objective in how we assessed our own potential and contributions compared to that of others?

        I absolutely hear what you are saying about the general view of politicians, that resigned acceptance/tolerance many of us have and, along with that, the serious consideration of engaging instead in bottom-up interventions to make positive changes in the environments where we believe we have potential to make a difference.
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          Oct 13 2012: That's a great idea... I do it... I hold myself to an intensely high moral standard. I have picked my personal candidate who I will volunteer for in 2014... Richard Aguirre, running for governor of California, on a platform of desalination, and solar investment. If he raises enough money, I will surely encourage him to actually build some test facilities, but that's a governors race, and serious money.

          Also, if Buck McKeon, wins my district again, which he likely will... I'm going to begin fundraising to do exactly what I'm describing, to take a run at him in 2 years... I don't think I have the credentials, or will have the name recognition/money to build a school, but maybe a small aquaculture farm. I'm going to lose, badly... He is very well financed, but yes, I believe people should hold themselves to exactly the same standard they hold others.

          Being unwilling to make enough money to pay taxes, does not excuse inaction.
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          Oct 13 2012: Good on you David just don't fall prey to those triple A agencies and their faulty models, You have a good brain, don't worry about credentials, your brain and your nose is all you need and the basic plan that you have been trialling on us.
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        Oct 13 2012: I am always glad to see people taking thoughtful action rather than only commenting from the sidelines.

        I believe you, David, that you hold yourself to high standards. I think many people, though, believe they hold themselves to high standards while actually viewing themselves through rosy glasses and viewing others through mucky ones.
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          Oct 13 2012: I agree with you... I just think we have different solutions for that problem. I think you might prefer, for people to see everyone through the rosy glasses, they use to view themselves...

          I would prefer we learn to view ourselves through the muck... and work hard to clean our lens. I have as much disgust for my own complacency, lethargy, and cynicism, where it exists... as I do for those aspects of my culture, and leadership.

          I may have an incorrect perspective, on exactly how dirty the lens is... but it is fair, in its own way.
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        Oct 13 2012: I have a positive view about human potential. I think this is accurate rather than rosy. My view comes not from theory but from the many people from all walks of life I have taught or with whom I have worked. I hold myself to high standards and hold students to high standards as well.

        I also understand how easy it is for people to lose their way in life's confusions and that the challenges we all face are not the same.
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          Oct 13 2012: Ahh, but it is out of my infinite love and respect for human potential, that is born my frustration and disappointment with our current conflicts... It's not that that things are terrible, but simply that we are capable of making it so much better, which drives my often harsh rhetoric. Peace and love friend.
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        Oct 13 2012: I assume you meant what you say and that you are not making fun of me. And yes, there are plenty of tie-died t-shirts in this house.
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          Oct 15 2012: "Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era—the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run… but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant.…

          History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of "history" it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.

          There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda.… You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning.…

          And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn't need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave.…

          So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back."

          Hunter S Thompson
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        Oct 15 2012: I was there (SF Bay Area) a little later, not being a baby boomer myself, but I recognized the quote from the first line.
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          Oct 19 2012: Just wanted to point out that there are numerous different kinds of hippies... And, I'm just a bit more gonzo than your average. My central values are still pretty much the same as yours. I just often find difficulty discerning human being from lizard in the modern age.