Home Commentary Op-ed Source Manager’s Journal: Visions

Source Manager’s Journal: Visions


Frank Schneiger.The Republican campaign for the party’s nomination is winding down. The string of primaries, caucuses and debates has been a spirit-killing affair. Aside from the stunning mediocrity of the candidates, we have endured the normalization of the following: attack as the dominant campaign tool as each candidate has tried to appeal to an ever more extreme base; the easy acceptance of lies and misstatements of fact; and unchallenged contempt and hatred for our government.

There is something even more profound. It is what is totally absent from the Republican race, and what we can expect to be missing when the general election campaign starts as well. It is the absence of any vision for our country’s future.

What is crystal clear is that the Republican Party and its reactionary base have a view of the America that they want. But it is a view through the rear-view mirror. It is the America that existed in the 1920s, before the New Deal and the civil rights revolution of the 1960s.

In this retro-America, white people, specifically white men, are right back on top (as if they had ever left), business calls the shots, minorities, especially African-Americans have been put “back in their place,” Bible-thumping hypocrites are given a respectful hearing, abortions continue to be performed, but they are again done in the back alley.

And the country is essentially owned by corporations and the wealthiest people. They are pretty much able to buy any institution of government in which they have an interest. Thanks, in large part, to a far-right Supreme Court majority.

As for those in need, they are pretty much on their own. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps and hope that you don’t get sick. As the cheering Republican debate audience made clear, you don’t have to require everyone to have insurance if you are wiling to allow those who show up at the emergency room without coverage to die.

It should come as no surprise that there is a reluctance to spell out a vision. The last American leader to do so was Ronald Reagan, the all-but canonized saint of Republican America. All of the Republican candidates worship at the altar of Reagan and try to draft off the fumes of his vision. What they cannot afford to do is spell out the disastrous consequences that Reagan’s vision had for the country.

Reagan’s vision was straightforward. The United States was unique, the “shining city on the hill.” By being unique, we were exceptions to all of the rules that applied to other countries. In Reagan’s vision, what made America great was the ability to get very rich in this country. Individual wealth was the measure of our greatness. Next, the barrier to ultimate greatness and the source of most of our problems was government, except for the military. And the best way to deal with this problem was to starve it by constantly cutting taxes.

Finally, it was white people who had made us so great, and they should not feel guilty about any unpleasantness in the past, especially in the Deep South. To avoid these guilty feelings, they should be made comfortable with all of their prejudices. With Reagan, the process of “otherizing” the others got into full swing.

Reagan’s vision has governed the United States for more than three decades, in Republican and Democratic administrations alike. Clinton and Obama have simply offered a watered down version of it.

The catastrophic results are everywhere to be seen: extreme inequality, disappearing opportunity, ever more entrenched poverty, domination of life by a tiny extremely wealthy (and soon to be hereditary) elite and by large corporations, and infrastructure that is an increasingly difficult to hide embarrassment.

Hatred of government and taxes is now the bedrock of Republicanism, the exception being Reagan’s favorite of vast military spending and, in our times, government surveillance of the “others.”

In many ways, the Virgin Islands has been spared this “vision.” It has largely gone its own way, operating under the radar. But – big but – it also lacks a vision for a better future and for healthier communities.

From time to time, Virgin Islands groups or business sectors work to define a vision for themselves or their industries, and this is all to the good. For example, the Health commissioner has opened the door to the territory engaging in the healthy communities movement.

But there is also a need for an overall vision, or, more likely, individual visions for the three islands and the communities that make them up. This vision would not be “soft” in the tradition of “the children are our future” school of cliché-mongering. Instead it would be a description of what Virgin Islanders would like their communities to look like five or ten years from now.

It would be clear and concrete. It would include descriptions of a revived economy, better schools, the physical and natural environment and local society defined by peace and cooperative efforts rather than violence.

Developing such a vision has at least three major benefits. First, it provides the emotional commitment that is needed to bring about any real change. People can see what they are trying to achieve and buy into it. It is the best possible antidote for pervasive pessimism.

Second, the vision brings diverse people together and mobilizes them to take action rather than just talk. Rather than “celebrating” diversity, it engages diversity.

And finally, the vision becomes the basis for real action plans. The “action agenda” consists of the things that will keep us from achieving our vision. The action plans are the path to overcoming those challenges and promises.

The Virgin Islands has taken several body blows in the past several years. The sharp recession and the Hovensa refinery closing are only the biggest of these. Businesses are struggling, the territory’s hospitals are in trouble, and public and private agencies serving those in need are badly stretched.

Some people might say that this is no time for a visioning exercise. But, in fact, such an effort is more needed in times like this than in good times. And that vision must be a platform for action if it is not to breed more pessimism.

As the author Georges Bernanos once said, “A thought that does not result in an action is nothing much, and an action that does not proceed from a thought is nothing at all.”


  1. Excellent commentary, Sir!

    I sincerely hope that the people of the VI can understand this and get behind it with the appropriate actions. Fortunately, our local arm of the Republican joke is less than even a fingernail so we don’t have that handicap – we just have to overcome our inertia and our demonstrated tendency to defecate in our own punchbowl and we might just make it. Electing some Senators who actually want to do the right thing for a change would be a good starting point, don’t you think?

  2. A child minded view of America which is breathtaking in its warped and blatantly incorrect assumptions of a nation that has done so much for so many. There’s another ole saying, Frank, and that is that some of us grow up while others, like yourself, just grow old. How you could get to be a man of age and be this socially and politically lost is a testament to the childish liberal hate that is ruining the fabric of this nation. Like a spoiled and petulant child sitting in the hall, you are conceited and prideful in your ability to take the wall clock apart without a clue or care as to how to put it back together. Nary a thought or clue as to how it was made or assembled. When exposed to this kind of wrong headed gumb flap one should always remember that the truth to a child minded liberal, like yourself, is like a crucifix thrown into the face of a Vampire: Intolerable.

  3. Interesting that you resort to a scurrilous ad hominem attack. I guess you have no facts to support your position or you would have raised them.

  4. Yea, blah, blah, blah,. . . Facts? Did you read the article? Look around you. Doing great? Life’s a ball, right? This feckless liar in the White House has borrowed YOU into trillions of dollars of more debt than all the presidents before him. . . and he’s not done. You want some facts? Well here’s a fact: He just gave 1.5 Billion dollars to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. They are a terrorist organization. I got a clue for you: Maybe, just maybe he could have spent some of that money here. When the Republicans get back in office in November, then things will turn around because this cluelesss “Jerry Lewis” in the White House knows nothing about the economy or how it works or how business works. All he seems to know is how to point at rich people to divide us. Ever hear so much “them against us” before? No. Oh yes, they do that in communist countries to divide the people. Get a clue. And when the economy does turn around, with Mitt Romney, you’ll be the first to say “It was Obummer’s policies that finally kicked in.” Why would you say that? Because “Truth to a child minded liberal is like a crucifix thrown into the face of a Vampire: Intolerable.”

    Just for the record (google stuff) this faker has failed at just about everything he’s tried. Jobs, Green Jobs, . . . and here’s one promise that he kept: He closed GITMO . . . just like he promised he would. Always know that he loves you and those who think like you.

  5. “He just gave 1.5 Billion dollars to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.”

    Surely you jest – you’re just parroting nonsense hype from the Drudge Report or some other fanatical right-wing rag. In fact, that $1.5B, if it happens, will be aid to Egypt – not the Brotherhood in particular. It will be appropriated by Congress – the President cannot do it alone.

  6. Listen, I understand your shock and aw, if you’ll pardon the term, but I know that a terrible truth like this is like a crucifix thrown into the face of a Vampire: Intolerable. Or if we go back into the history of sports: “Say it ain’t so, Joe,” However, be that as it may – it IS so. The Muslim Brotherhood is taking control of Egypt along with 1.5 Billion of our tax dollars. I know that for a liberal that means almost nothing or may be hard to believe if it did mean something but do your own research/homework if it matters that much to you. Oh, here is the “nonsense” that you may have been referring to:

    You can do your own sourcing if you like there’s plenty out there. Now, I should mention that to a child minded liberal searching for a clue, you may find that the youtube video is blank, or the articles may appear to be blank as you are predisposed to NOT accept the truth when it is placed before you. Good Luck. BTW, where is the outrage from our delegate to congress? Oh, sorry, she’s fawning for an opportunity to meet the faker. Hey Donna, we could use some of that dinero here in the VI and I’m not talking Robert De niro. Can’t wait for the Adults to come home.

  7. Well said cgtstx! Next they will be tearing you down because they, the Liberals, can’t stand that you are right!!!!


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