Political solutions: When rational thinking just won’t do

Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin. (Via Wikipedia)

RANCHO SANTA FE, Calif., July 21, 2014 — From the apparent shooting down of Malaysian flight MH17 to the flood of immigrants across our southern border, only one thing is certain: Our response will be random rather than strategic.

Since we have divorced ourselves from the concept of being a “Nation of Laws” and replaced it with an ad hoc approach that allows for more “flexibility” when it comes to addressing crises, the world may “like” us more when times are good but it can no longer count on us when times are bad. We need a definitive foundation upon which to base our decisions, and we need to become far more consistent in setting an example rather than merely advocating one.

Our political leaders have demonstrated their proclivity for condemning someone or something whenever a crisis arises and then distancing themselves from the responsibility of having been caught by surprise. They apparently could not have anticipated civilian casualties in the conflict between Ukrainian forces and Russian-separatist rebels. No one could foresee any renewed fighting between Israel and Hamas. Who could have possibly predicted any terrorist organization’s attempt to disrupt the newly-formed “democratic” regime in Iraq? You can almost be assured the Administration will be dutifully shocked if there is any change in the status quo in Afghanistan after our scheduled troop withdrawal.

Our leaders evidently could not even envision an acceleration of illegal immigration attempts across our southern border when we announced that we would not be enforcing the letter of the law.

What if we were to demand exceptional results from our leaders rather merely accept incremental improvement, embrace the status quo, or even endure a decline in the quality of our Nation’s performance and the opportunities it offers? That would require a transformational change from where we are today.

To quote R. Douglass Carter (an outstanding behaviorist and professional trainer), “Transformational change doesn’t come from doing things bigger, better or faster. It comes from starting from a different place.” Mr. Carter is absolutely correct, and it is time we began to examine a different “starting place” for our Government’s actions.

Returning to the precept of being a “Nation of Laws” might be a good place to commence. Every individual who is elected to Federal office or appointed to the Judiciary either swears to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States” (as is the case with the President) or to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Let’s start there since it establishes common ground among our leaders who have otherwise degenerated into hyper-partisan activists.

The Constitution establishes a clear separation of powers between the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches of Government. If we assiduously adhere to allowing only the Legislative Branch to create laws, then we absolutely know who to hold accountable if the laws fail to “provide for the common Defence (sic) and general Welfare of the United States” as is their mandate under Article I, Section 8.

Correspondingly, if such laws become impossible to enforce by the Executive Branch (Article II), they should be resubmitted to Congress for reconsideration (i.e., amendment, replacement, or abandonment). Congress may follow a similar course with respect to any law that is deemed to be unconstitutional by the Judicial Branch (Article III).

The Executive Branch should remain focused almost singularly on the effective and efficient enforcement of the law under Article II. It has no constitutional authority to legislate or selectively administer the law. Perhaps it would not be challenged by suits it deems to be “stunts” nor would it have lost 20 Supreme Court decisions by 9-0 votes if it were to simply comply with the Constitution in this way.

If the members of the Legislative and Executive Branches honored their Oaths, the Judicial Branch might feel compelled to honor its Oath as well and restrain its actions to the directives contained within Article III.

If technological or societal shifts required a change in the Constitution, Article V provides the means for passing such Amendments. All other rights would be reserved to the States under the Tenth Amendment or to the People under the Ninth Amendment.

See how easy that approach would be?

Now, let’s improve it with one more commitment that would eliminate the hypocrisy that seems to have infected our Government.

On March 20th during the 2012 Presidential campaign, I wrote an article entitled Foreign Policy: A rational approach for the U.S. In it, I posed three questions followed by a clear statement:

“What if all that time, money and effort (spent in “nation building” abroad where we are not particularly welcomed) were redirected at resolving our own economic challenges rather than attempting to influence the political environments of other countries?

“What if we concentrated on reducing unemployment, poverty and illiteracy in the United States (areas in which our performance has markedly worsened over the past few years)?

“What if we created a model of excellence that inspired other nations to look to us for guidance rather than trying to impose our ideals on them through our purported “nation building” efforts?

“That is the United States of America that I envision: a country that presents such a robust model of success that every nation aspires to learn from our model; a country that engages in the affairs of other nations upon invitation rather than by dictate.

If we “started” from there, we might be able to take a more rational approach to the current crises.


Earlier this year, we supported “rebels” in the Ukraine. At the time, that term applied to citizens of Ukraine who favored stronger relations with Europe and the United States rather than with Russia. When those “rebels” were successful and overthrew the pro-Russian government that previously was in power, the roles shifted.

Now, we oppose the new “rebels” in Ukraine. They are Ukrainian citizens just like their predecessors. However, they have been renamed “pro-Russia separatists” because they favor re-alignment with that country.

Russia has provided the “pro-Russia separatists” with weapons while Europe has been selling arms to Ukraine and Russia. The United States has only provided “non-lethal” assistance to Ukraine, but it has stepped up military aid to neighboring Poland and nearby Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.

The situation escalated recently when the pro-Russia separatists allegedly used a sophisticated Russian surface-to-air missile to shoot down a commercial airliner. The attack killed 298 innocent victims. As a result, the pro-Russia separatists have been re-branded “terrorists.”

Contrast this to the fact that the new Ukrainian regime has only killed other Ukrainians with less-sophisticated weapons during the internal conflict; although to the victims, that may not seem to be much of a distinction.

The United States quickly and appropriately condemned the attack on MH17. Breaking from the protocol the Administration applies to internal issues, President Obama said, “Our immediate focus is on… investigating exactly what happened and putting forward the facts. We have to make sure that the truth is out and that accountability exists.”

With regard to the latter, many have blamed Russia as if it fired the missiles; asserting that it should be held accountable because it provided weapons and training to the “terrorists.” The Administration might be well-advised to shoot down that reasoning rather than allowing it to “drone on.”

Some have called for strong action to be taken against Russia “like Reagan would have.” Those who had the pleasure of knowing President Reagan rather doubt that he would have reacted irresponsibly. He was focused upon stopping the Cold War rather than starting a new one.

What solution are some leaders suggesting? Possibly providing more direct military aid to the Ukrainian regime. That should fix everything.

Israel, Hamas, Syria, ISIS and Iraq

Let’s simplify this discussion. We provide weapons to Israel. We also provide them to Egypt, which serves as a supply pipeline for Hamas in the Gaza strip.

We also provided weapons to Libyan rebels to assist them with the overthrow of Muammar al-Gaddafi. Some of those weapons made their way into Syria to assist the rebels in that country’s civil war.

After we were bailed out of our “Red Line in the sand” fiasco with Syria (by Russia of all countries), we decided to more directly support the Syrian rebels in their effort to overthrow Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Naturally, we began supplying them with weapons; some of which drifted into the control of the ISIL, which used them to attack Iraq’s democratically-elected and US-armed-and-trained regime.

Are you detecting an irrational and hypocritical trend yet?


Meanwhile, while we are contributing to the unrest throughout the rest of the world as best we can, our own southern border is under attack in a certain sense.

Congress is compelled by Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution to “establish an (sic) uniform Rule of Naturalization,” which it has done. However, the Obama Administration elected to ignore, or at least selectively apply such laws. It even admonished and sued Border States that attempted to fill the void. Simultaneously, it tacitly endorsed flaunting violations of the same law by so-called “Sanctuary Cities.”

Somehow, our leaders failed to realize that this might be interpreted as an open invitation to ignore the rule of law when it comes to crossing our borders. Citizens living in countries with more wide-spread violence and poverty than the United States began to view our Nation as a viable and highly accessible alternative.

Luckily, the President has a phone and a pen. He recently called upon Congress to approve a $3.7 billion request to address the influx of illegal immigrants. While his “solution” allowed him to politically address “an urgent humanitarian problem” (as he described it) and shift the burden to Congress, his bill ineffectively masks the problem rather than solves it.

As was stated in last week’s article, the United Nations weighed in as well. It declared the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors, who flooded the United States, to be refugees based upon their flight from gang-violence in their countries. To date, the U.N. has been silent as to why this is singularly a problem for the United States as opposed to an issue for its 193 member nations to resolve. It will be interesting to see what resources the U.N. allocates to the crisis beyond words.

Correspondingly, since the President was willing to immediately request $3.7 billion to assist these “refugees” who were fleeing violence, can help be far behind for U.S. citizens who live in similar environments? For example, over 82 Americans were shot (14 killed) in Chicago over the recent 4th of July weekend.

Need a little extra money? Foster a foreign refugee child. An organization is advertising tax-free reimbursements ranging from an average of $1009 up to $6045 per month per “refugee.” Just as a level set, our country has approximately 400,000 foster children of its own and over 100,000 orphans who are American citizens and would like a home. Where does the old phrase say that charity begins?

In summation

What if we started from a different place?

What if we returned to being a “Nation of Laws”?

What if our elected and appointed officials were to honor their Oaths of Office?

What if we stopped supplying weapons to hostile groups in unstable nations in the interest of establishing “democracies”?

What if we focused on reducing unemployment, poverty and illiteracy in the United States rather than immediately adding to it?

What if we were to become “such a robust model of success that every nation aspired to learn from our model”?

What if we were to become “a country that engages in the affairs of other nations upon invitation rather than by dictate?

Then again, that might just exacerbate the immigration problem … but at least by then, we might actually have a rational strategy in place to address it.


A Civil Assessment has been designed to serve as an Op-Ed forum for you. You are invited to offer your opinion and to discuss your position in the Comment Section. Please be sure that your “assessments” remain “civil” so that they may earn the respect of others.


TJ O’Hara provides nonpartisan political commentary every Tuesday on The Daily Ledger, one of One America News Network’s featured shows (check local cable listings for the channel in your area or watch online at 8:00 PM and Midnight PM Eastern / 5:00 and 9:00 PM Pacific. His segment appears about 35 minutes into the program.

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2014 Communities Digital News

• The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors or management of Communities Digital News.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities Digital News, LLC. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

Correspondingly, Communities Digital News, LLC uses its best efforts to operate in accordance with the Fair Use Doctrine under US Copyright Law and always tries to provide proper attribution. If you have reason to believe that any written material or image has been innocently infringed, please bring it to the immediate attention of CDN via the e-mail address or phone number listed on the Contact page so that it can be resolved expeditiously.

Previous articleUnderstanding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Next articleINTERVIEW: Mike Shea, founder of Alternative Press Magazine
TJ OHara
T.J. O'Hara is an internationally recognized author, speaker and strategic consultant in the private and public sectors. In 2012, he emerged as the leading independent candidate for the Office of President of the United States. Along the way, he earned the first Presidential endorsement of the Whig Party since the 1850s, his website was archived by the Library of Congress for its historic significance, and he won the first on-line “virtual” Presidential election (conducted by We Want You) by a commanding 72.1% and 72.7% over Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, respectively. His column explores our Nation’s most pressing issues, challenges conventional thinking, and provides an open forum for civil discussion. Learn more about TJ at his website and connect with him on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter (@tjohara2012). To order his books, go to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords or Sony Reader.
  • Eric N Keya Erickson

    I was thinking, as I read, that perhaps this crisis of leadership is a symptom of a crisis of personal responsibility in the country at large. Why would we expect our leaders to obey the law when most people can’t obey the speed limit laws? Why would we expect politicians to spend taxpayer money wisely when most Americans don’t budget, use debt to buy luxury items, and don’t plan for retirement? Why would we expect a coherent foreign policy strategy when many of us can’t get along with the people next door, or people who worship a different sports team, or attend a different church? Why would we expect an elected official’s words to match his actions when he knows nobody is paying attention and will hold him accountable?

    If we’re talking about starting from a different place, maybe that different place needs to be in the hearts and minds of average American citizens.

    • Thank you for your comment, Mr. Erickson.

      As a friend of mine posted on Twitter yesterday, “It only takes one person to change your life … YOU!” Just as you have suggested, if each of us were to take responsibility for living more responsibly, many of our problems would be resolved.

      That being said, with regard to your last question (“Why would we expect an elected official’s words to match his actions when he knows nobody is paying attention and will hold him accountable?’), I would offer a one word answer: Integrity. Our elected officials should expect it of themselves. Unfortunately, “Integrity” seems to be a characteristic that is sorely lacking in our current political environment.

      One of the reasons I was flattered to have earned the Whig Party’s endorsement during the 2012 Presidential election was because “Integrity” is one of the three fundamental pillars of that Party’s philosophy. It was a considerable honor to know that the Whigs felt that I had clearly demonstrated that characteristic in the past as well as within the context of my campaign.

      In my opinion, “Integrity” should be a personal commitment without which candidates should not run. For a related discussion, you may wish to read an article I wrote on July 30, 2013 (“Filner, Spitzer, Weiner: War on women or ethics?”). It suggests the advantage of demanding that our elected officials be willing to sign a Code of Ethics. Then, we would have the right to “expect” them to behave with “Integrity.”

      Thank you again for your comment.

      • Eric N Keya Erickson

        I agree that Integrity is the key. I suppose what I was trying to say, in a roundabout way, is that the overall integrity level of Americans is in the toilet, and we therefore get elected officials who reflect that. I’ve seen this lack of integrity first hand in many places, from education to business. Many don’t even care if people know they’re being dishonest, it’s “the way things are.” Personally, my parents always taught me about the importance of integrity and the Air Force further impressed their core value of integrity on me. Many people do not have any form of moral guidance or education however, and the result is, in my opinion, a dangerous moral relativism that allows people to do whatever they want as long as they personally feel it’s ok.

        Another aspect of integrity that is lacking, and one you’ve been hitting hard on this month, is the way in which people shelve their integrity for their political party. Or, even worse, they hand their integrity over to their political party by doing and saying whatever the party says. The party then becomes their moral compass, whether they would normally agree or disagree with the party’s stance.

  • Benjamin Dover

    Despite seductive illusions and promises of equality, the spoils of collectivism’s plunder are practically available only to the collective’s masters.

    • Thank you for your comment, Mr. Dover. It succinctly summarizes a problem that many either do not see or choose to ignore.