Writing about politics is a strange thing. For one, ongoing events make your work obsolete the minute you type the last period. This has certainly been true for John (H. John Lyke) and me, the co-authors of Political Straight Talk: A Prescription for Healing Our Broken System of Government. In fact, the book started (before I even got involved with it) as a blog that John used to keep his previous book, What Would Our Founding Fathers Say?—How Today’s Leaders Have Lost Their Way, current and relevant. Once what was being called “gridlock” in Washington, DC, was clearly not going to loosen up, he knew he had to put those blogs into a new book. Now we find ourselves scrambling with blogs again, trying to keep PST current and relevant.
Because of this terrible speed of being in our time (apologies to Milan Kundera), we don’t approach political writing in quite the same way as other news junkies tend to do. We focus on what John calls “the simple truths of life,” those values that make up a human being’s integrity—virtue, empathy–compassion, and being of service—as well as the psychology of the players and the electorate. These things are universal truths. These things our Founding Fathers held in the forefront in their dealings with one another, though they submerged them in their dealings with those they saw as different: the Native Peoples, the enslaved people abducted from Africa, white men who did not own property or worked for others, and all women in general. As the new government got settled and we developed as a country, the struggles of these groups, as well as the immigrants arriving in waves from all over the world, to achieve the same status of liberty and justice that was promised to all, in the Constitution, would become the history of the progressive movements.
That brings us to today. Events impact these things, but these things don’t themselves change. So that’s how we approach our political writing. We look at the values written down by the Founders and promulgated (or opposed) by today’s politicians and contrast them with the subtext, what values are actually being promoted by the actions of our past and present leaders. Consequently, we find ourselves digging into a complex web of psychological process that affect all of us—how we might think we believe one thing but actually believe something else, as revealed in our behavior.
When we started writing like this—for John, over 15 years ago, and for me when I started working with John around five years ago—no one else was doing it. Now we see the words we use—ego defense mechanisms, narcissism, cognitive dissonance, empathy, compassion, public service, and the like—becoming more and more common. We hope we helped to add that piece of awareness to the national discussion of what keeps the country running well for everyone—or doesn’t, as the case may be.
Please visit the book’s website at www.lykeablebooks4u.com
to see what’s happening now. You can find our blogs there as well. And please join us in the discussion to make this a country we can become proud of if you have never been or again if you once were. Mind you, we will ask you to reflect deeply into your thoughts and report honorably on how you feel and why.