Writing

Piece 54 – The Presidency Unhinged By. Raimondo Graziano

                                                         The Presidency Unhinged

                                                           By. Raimondo Graziano

            The American Presidency occupies but only a small portion of the Constitution, the strong yet oft tested guardrails of our republican democracy. The executive has over many decades and nearing three centuries now gradually expanded its powers, authority, reach, and influence. Many presidents have used the executive branch to propel their agenda forward, cement their legacy and undermine the other branches of government meant to be coequal in their distribution of power and authority.

            From Andrew Jackson to Franklin Roosevelt and to Donald J. Trump, those at the helm of American democracy have steadily expanded the ‘imperial authority of the Presidency.’ As we venture further into the next century and as partisan divisions grow ever entrenched, the dangers that are posed by a Presidency unhinged, unrestricted in the exercise of its perceived and unspoken powers, grows ever stronger. With each passing day of apathy from the American public and dereliction of duty by the Congress and the threats of partisanship within our courts, we teeter closer toward elected dictatorship.

            The influence of the two parties within the country have helped to elevate their standard bearers, their leaders of the party, to a powerful evocative symbol – a dangerous symbol. A unflinching loyalty to not a man, but to an idea. The man as an idea. But the inherent danger is to, in our blind pursuit of personal and ideological agendas, elevate dangerous demagogic figures with their own personal agendas to the heights of power, because we believe they represent more than simply the man. We are allowing the festering of an unhinged Presidency disseminate amongst us.

            In short – we forgive the once unforgivable, we accept the once unacceptable, we endorse the once impeachable. In short, we have given the Presidency, and the man who occupies its office, an endorsement to pursue an agenda at any cost. Today it is the Republicans, tomorrow perhaps the Democrats. Though the day after? Perhaps Julius Caesar himself, seizing the authority of Rome and ceding its powers to one man veiled with the veneer of a populist fury, promising to liberate the people. In our continued longing for a savior, we will bring about the degradation of our liberties and the utter dismantling and destruction of our democracy.

Writing

Piece 53 – A Condemnation of Congress By. Raimondo Graziano

                                                     A Condemnation of Congress

                                                        By. Raimondo Graziano

            If there is any American institution which stokes ire and contempt from the public it is Congress. Congress has become a woefully partisan gymnasium, full of hacks and political lackeys for their respective parties and interests as well as lobbying groups and a whole cacophony of dirty phony patriots, apologists and agitators of the highest order. These representatives that we have put into office are beholden not to the voters but to those who cut the checks that line their pockets, and fill their campaign coffers. It goes without mentioning that Congress rarely passes pieces of legislation that have any major bearing to what it is the American public is seeking. The American public longs for systematic institutional change to address the harrowing issues that they face. They mask themselves in a facetious love of the country, yet they do nothing for the people and the nation that afforded them the highest opportunity to serve the public. They serve themselves.

            This deformation of patriotism, this false love of country is borderline treasonous, and most certainly negligent and a dereliction of duty. They are ardent apologists for themselves, blaming their inability to do what is right on obstruction that they themselves have caused. They are hacks and lackeys because they perpetuate lies, and they peddle talking points fed to them by their national committees, and of course the special interests and lobbying firms that feed to them the policies that they know little to nothing about. They are bought and paid for by both foreign and domestic entities all with competing interests – none of them, the interest of the American people.

            They serve themselves, enrich themselves and blame the constituency for not being informed about the issues, they blame everyone but themselves. Their hubris and their blatant malice towards the American people is dually noted in the hearts and minds of many. It reflects in the discourse, and the American people know that those whom they send to Washington on the taxpayer’s dime, are frauds – they feel as though they have no true power or say in the political process. And of course, they don’t – Republicans work to suppress the vote, disenfranchising millions from voicing their truths, and Democrats work to suppress dissenting opinion, they suppress anything that works to move them closer to a progressive stance. In truth – Republicans and Democrats alike are cut from the same political cloth soaked in blood, a disengaged, out of touch political class of elites licking the boots of industry and anyone or anything which can keep them clothed in the black sackcloth that is American power.

            Congress has routinely failed to live up to its constitutional duties to serve, protect and defend the American public – let alone our founding documents, and our guiding principles. To the congress, these things are simply trivialities, things to be referred to rhetorically, or used as a nod to principles which they lack wholeheartedly. Governing is the duty bestowed upon these men and women, and they skirt this moral responsibility habitually. Why not, when accountability is neither an issue nor a concern – when the media on either side bolsters the arguments of these bonafide talking heads who perpetuate falsity, after falsity and continually undermine the American people. It is a vast understatement to say that reforms are needed – to campaign finance, to term limits, in regards to accountability and in regards to very premise and foundations of what it means to be a member of what is meant to the greatest deliberative body in the world.

            The corruption and rot within the hallowed halls of Congress runs deep, and if the American public does not wake up to the siege laid upon them then The United States of America will befall the same fate as the Roman Republic. In these times of trials and tribulations and with no stern captain at the helm of our democracy, of our republic, with no statesmen left and with no leaders to lead it is up to the people to keep their republic, it is up to the people to shake the shackles of corporate oligarchy that besets this country, it is up to the people to refresh the tree of liberty for all Americans. It is, and shall always be, up to the people. One can only hope, that the fickle hand of fate is on our side.

Writing

Piece 52 – Trumpian Foreign Policy

Trumpian Foreign Policy
By. Raimondo Graziano

The last few years of American foreign policy have been astoundingly dismal. In truth, the rot within the American diplomatic corps, the policies that have been put forth by the intelligentsia of the United States have been guided by faulty premises, a lack of a coherent national vision and have been held hostage by the whims of the ever changing administrations that occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue – these failures in American leadership have been piling up for decades. Those at the top, have a vague understanding of what the national interest ought to be. They are guided by misjudgments, corruption and a lack of direction.

The same can be said of the President today. While the man, and unlike other administrations who’ve worked collaboratively on policy, dictates his policies to be enacted in what seems to be a whimsical manner – he still touches upon issues which are relevant, and perhaps have been pushed to the wayside by the mainstay politicians of Washington. From immigration reform, to the depleted nature of our nation’s military, then on to Washington’s corruption and the reluctance of our allies to share the load in regards to the maintenance of the international order. Yet when he goes about pursuing his talking points and turning them into policy, often there is a divide between results and rhetoric.

There is a propensity to pursue an independent American foreign policy, pushing aside our allies and the decades of built up relationship building. While a strong rhetoric is something to be admired, especially in a world marked by consistent challenges to the order we have established. Then there is the insistence on following through on campaign promises, even when the national security and national interests of the country might be threatened. What is most glaring is the withdrawals of troops throughout the Middle East; which leaves room for other nations – Iran, Turkey, Russia and other non-state actors to fill the gap in American leadership. The pulling back from multilateral agreements which the President argues undermine American sovereignty and self-determination has not always been the right course. The critiques leveled at Iran and the deal struck just four years ago are valid. The agreement did push the issues down the road, and did not address the missile capabilities of Iran. While with the trade agreement struck between the United Stated and the Pacific nations would’ve been a boon to the country in combating China.

The President may touch upon the surface issues, on the pulse so to speak of the times; but the nuance and complexity of the issues, the need to rope together differing alliances and competing interests to pursue grand strategy is lost on this administration. The opportunity to boldly lead in tackling corruption, holding our allies accountable, and standing up to the worse rogues that plague this world is there. But in many ways, the administration is guided by the impulses of a man, who is guided by conflicting personal interests and a pride unlike no other. In the end, in this era of Trumpian policy, the people are yet again let down. Perhaps in the years to come, the revolutionary ideas of the Presidents brand of politics will translate into something truly transformative and bring about top down change, and sweep away the ever-rising tide of apathy, corruption and dereliction of duty. But for now, the same old persists under the veneer of change, under the guise of bringing America back to greatness.

Writing

Piece 51 – The Current State of the American Body Politic By. Raimondo Graziano

The Current State of the American Body Politic

By. Raimondo Graziano

While from my humble station in this life I may not have the great means to illicit a groundswell of change, being that much of the messaging of the day is scripted as is, portrayed as such on the media, and the movements of the day seem to have their leaders, or rather, lack thereof as a deliberate detail of design, I still hold my opinions and beliefs on how the world is today. As an American, I look outward to the world with an inquisitive, often inquisitorial stern eye. I often lay my critiques of foreign governments and foreign nationals pointedly, and have no qualms regarding criticizing others. As an American, regardless of administration, there are certain values, duties, obligations and so forth, that are uniquely American in their character and that each citizen whether they fully understand the nuances of being an American act upon and exemplify. While I may inhabit a very humble position, one quite frankly, at this juncture, I am very grateful for given the partisan nature of our society today, let alone our politics, I still remain unabashedly forthright with my denunciations of the ills committed, and feckless direction with which other nations take their countries in, as if their actions don’t effect the wider world. As if the leadership of the United States, aid in the form of military, economic and humanitarian hasn’t shaped the very foundations of the modern world. Our nation is one that is vigorously lambasted the world over. In spite, of all that it is this country has done.

With the current administration, we as Americans, have been admonished further. While the one man, may not represent the ideals and values that this country has held dearly, we as Americans, are forgetting them while the rest of the world admonishes us for being just like the man who occupies the bully pulpit. We the people, are pushing them, these fundamental values, to the wayside due to a number of reasons. The spineless politicians who represent us, who can’t get a sliver of work done in the slightest, the vast hoarding of great wealth by the captains of industry today, the illusory belief in the strength of our economy peddled by pundits. Americans are struggling to survive, and it is making us angry, violent, demoralized and impoverished; with all these great stressors weighing on the mind of the average American it is no surprise that we as a people cant live up to our highest ideals and speak greatly on what it means to be an American, what it means to be a nation of immigrants united – what that revolutionary concept means for the world. We aren’t taking care of our basic needs, and it is making us consume one another. We are goaded by the media, who seek to divide for profit, goaded by the politicians who entrench themselves in their power by seeking to divide, goaded by the peoples of the world who call us stupid and ignorant despite our exportation of nearly all the good that the world pleasures itself with today from freedom and democracy to television and the very idea of property for the common man. We are goaded by industry, celebrity and influencers who seek to profit off of our anxieties and desire for comfort and peace. We are goaded, nearly daily, by an arrogant, narcissistic President who seeks to enrich himself, and while in one breath does something one could reasonably argue is right, in the other eviscerates any moderate gains made, throwing the country into whiplash.

The American body politic today is broken, and tattered, our unity is held together by a thin thread with the name: Seeking security for our families, trying to survive, grinding, getting bread – in layman’s terms – making money. We have become a slave to it, because with it, is the means to literally survive. The means to be accepted as normal, and one with the crowd. Its not that we want it this way, it’s a flaw of design. Have you seen the way they treat the homeless in the country – men, women, and children, veterans even – who in god’s name wouldn’t sell their soul to earn a dollar, so that they wouldn’t be subjected to the same disgusting treatment that humans are subjected to when they are destitute. For god’s sake, we can’t even open a shelter for these people without the throng of the masses bellowing out “Burn it down”! But no cries of “Burn it down” when the Congress passes tax reform that benefits the wealthiest Americans, no cries of “Burn it down” when the largest companies in the country move overseas to not pay their fair share, no cries of “Burn it down” when children are murdered in schools by madmen disillusioned by society. No, we the American people goaded by everyone choose to eat one another, when in our union together we can build a better world for Americans, by Americans. The American body politics is disgustingly broken, when we can see that we are being played by everyone, who seeks to see us suffer, our families, our values trampled in the mud – when we can see that clear as spring water, then we will all rise up and with a thunderous revolutionary call to arms, we will say as true Americans do, “Burn it down”.

Writing

Piece 50 – The Promise & Perils of New York City By. Raimondo Graziano

The Promise & Perils of New York City

By. Raimondo Graziano

 

New York City is one of the most diverse and wealthy cities in the world. Wealth in it’s people, and their character and the stories they hold. And wealth in the sheer abundance of opportunity and promise it holds. Though here there is wealth, monetary and material wealth which abounds in a great thunderous exchange of goods, services, luxury and great inequality. Great, terrible inequality.

This city has a history of corruption and governmental neglect and negligence at the hands of those the people dually elected. In some cases democracy does not always work to the favor of the people of this city. As rent rises to highs not seen before in this cities history, the wealthy move in and supplant neighborhoods and peoples who have had roots here for generations. Our elected officials do little to nothing to mitigate this. Often they are in the pockets of those they are meant to protect the people from.

Often it is the power of political parties and the monied interests of Wall St. And the Real Estate industry who hold our elected officials hostage with exorbitant campaign contributions. These in the hands of the powerful, the movers of the levers of government though not elected, are a dangerous tool acting as near as can be though skirting the gray moral line that divides contributions and bribes. It is not this city rejects wealth and chastises it. Rather welcome it with open arms. We must take a cautioned, measured and practical approach to the wealth that enters this city uninhibited.

If those that seek to come in look to benefit from the promise this city has, from its story and its trials – then they need to invest in these communities which have been here for generations. That’s individuals and corporations alike! No one ought to get a free ride and welcome mat laid out simply because they have a fat wallet. What message are we then sending our children? The stewards of this city in the years to come? As our mayor returns from his quixotic campaign for the Presidency, as he flies in, and prepares to get back to the job he was elected for let him be reminded of the issues facing this city.

Firstly, a housing crisis in affrodabilty, while countless tens of thousands of New Yorkers remain homeless, and a shelter system that many outright avoid. Secondly, a crisis in our wellbeing and health. I’m talking about the Overdose Crisis, where we have lost thousands of New Yorkers to a preventable overdose and countless more the horrors of addiction and the stigma that comes with it. Thirdly, a mayor who cannot work effectively with his Police Department to ensure that they receive the support they need while at the same time holding them accountable for their actions and in many cases negligence. Fourthly, educational disparities within our school system, disparities in opportunity.

The way we tackle this is not through ending programs for gifted students, but rather expanding access and resources to the people of New York, to those who don’t have access to begin with. To tackle a nuanced problem we needn’t follow the recommendations of the mayors bureaucratic commission, to penalize those who do well, but to gove opportunity to those who haven’t been given the chance to succeed!

Fourthly, the lack of expanded economic opportunities to smaller business which are struggling to compete with larger and often aggressive chains and other corporations. Let’s empower the people, and unleash the untapped potential in many cases lying dormant in this great city. We needn’t demonize corporations but rather, we can say to them – You have had your fill, let the people profit from the well too. We can reward responsible corporate practices, and those which are sustainable and empower workers by encouraging the growth of unions, while scrutinizing those who face no such oversight.

In other words, what this city deserves, what it’s people deserve and what is long overdue is a city government that works for the benefit of the people, responsible progressive and pragmatic governance for the benefit of all New Yorkers, those here for generations and those who seek to plant their roots. We can achieve this together, it is our hope that together this vision for a truly progressive, responsible and action oriented city government can become our reality. That is the hope of this city, that reason and justice, and personal responsibility projected outward can uplift and transform this city into a model for responsibility and duty and honor the world over.