America loses

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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23 Responses

  1. StB says:

    I like your wife’s comment, “We need real statesmen!” When someone does come in and truly speaks for the people they represent, they are quickly marginalize by the opposition and eventually, their own party. The opposition is quick to call them extreme (see Rand Paul or Ron Johnson). If they do not fall in line of their party, they lose opportunities or chairs (likely to happen to Joe Manchin). All because is is easier to play the blame game (guilty here!) than come with real solutions. Then when you have real solutions, they are ignored because you have played the blame game. Damn you Heller!

  2. NT says:

    I think the frustrated need to human-up and get themselves and their friends and their friends friends to the polls. For local and national elections.

    For better or worse, real change in America happens through the ballot box (and the courts that the ballot box stocks).

    We have to become activists. I don’t want to, but if I don’t participate, all my moaning and wailing is a hypocritical waste of breath.

    Get out the vote. The demographics will, eventually I believe, lead to greater sanity.

  3. e says:

    I’ve got to say I don’t think frustrated means non-voter. I don’t want to speak for a whole group, but in my case frustration is intensified by the fact that I do actively participate in government. I cast ballots in big and small elections. I keep a fairly close watch on what my representatives are doing (partially because of the business I’m in), and I still feel like I’m not being represented.

    I absolutely agree that getting people to participate is important. I just don’t think it’s fair to assume frustration equals inaction.

  4. e says:

    Want to add – really well done on this post. It’s awesome to see such varied responses. Any time spent even trying to come up with an answer to the original question has to be a positive move toward bridging that gap.

  5. iggy says:

    excellent discussion and really enjoyed your summation.

    that being said, i’m now fully stuck on the grizzly versus silverback debate.

  6. AgSweep says:

    I have begun to reply to all those who send me those slanted, blame mongering links and e-mails that perhaps their time might be better spent working toward solutions to our problems. And because I made a personal resolution to be constructively critical I send along suggestions on how they could pitch in and work toward solutions. This could also be construed as a way to narrow down that ol’ facebook and twitter’s followers list.

  7. Stuey says:

    I’m serious, break up the USA.

  8. Kat says:

    Nicely compiled Brad. You forgot the disbelieving observers, the ones who yelled, “wait, they can DO that?!?” and “c’mon America, you can pull it together!”, and then turned off the internets and went outside.

    Oh wait. Never mind. The D.O.’s (i.e. me) never actually responded to anything because they have been dismissed in the past by drunken republicans as “not being from around here” and have gotten in the habit of keeping quiet in international debates.

    I personally tend to agree with your neighbour who said “Time to think of others first. We have created a society wholly focused on getting ours first”, about creating a culture where the focus is off the individual and on the group. United we stand, divided we fall, etc.

    But what do I know. I’m just a socialist feminist from the 6th happiest country in the world.

    Oh, and
    1) George Thoroughgood- I’ve seen both live and at least Steve Miller can pull a show out of his ass.
    2) Silverback gorilla because I think they’re just close enough to humans to be really mean and dirty in a fight.
    3) 100 duck-sided horses as I’ve been bitten by a regular size duck and the thought of just how big the bill on a horse-sized duck would be frankly scares the shit out of me.

  9. Chilly says:

    1. Miller>George. “Take the Money and Run” is better than anything in Thorogood’s catalog.
    2. Silverback. A Silverback has intelligence, speed, agility, climbing abilities and unparalleled strength. The bear is a lumbering oaf. It’s Butterbean vs a Heavy Weight MMA Champ. Sure, the Bean might connect once or twice, but its not going to end well.
    3. 100 duck size horses. Ducks are mean. You don’t want any of that.

  10. TeamScottSmith says:

    After your initial post, I hovered over the comment window for 20 minutes. I wrote stuff. I erased it. Repeat. Finally I gave up and moved on. The problem is simply too daunting.

    But a few things I retracted could possibly help in some small way.
    1. All politicians should be held to something similar to inside-trader laws. It should be illegal for them to receive any kind of kickbacks, corporate favors, payola, or anything of the kind not only for their personal money, but also for their campaign funds. Straight political donations only, with no promises of favor. Maybe all donations should be required to be anonymous. Breaking these rules means time in jail and expulsion from office.
    2. All bills submitted for approval should be short enough to read cover to cover in two hours, with a zero tolerance for pork-barrelling. If it is not directly related to the subject of the bill, it gets removed.
    3. Politicians should have all of their own benefits and pay affected by things like governmental shutdowns or Obamacare. They shut down the government, they don’t get paid. They create health care legislation for America, they use that plan.
    4. Thorogood is nowhere near the talent of Steve Miller. I’m not a Steve Miller fan, but The Joker was a great album.
    5. A Grizzly Bear would slaughter a Gorilla in direct combat. The gorilla could escape into a draw, but never win. I’d also enjoy the Grizzly/Alligator match-up. Or Grizzly/Polar bear – which has to have actually happened, since we now have the Pizzly bear in existence.
    6. Ducks are mean. You do NOT want a Horse sized duck anywhere near you. A horse sized swan would be even worse.
    7. I think a horse sized duck could beat a grizzly bear/gorilla tag team match.
    8. You are right, we are all screwed.

  11. grumpy says:

    Brad I have read and enjoyed many of your contemplations, but I rank this the top. for a long time I was deeply interested in politics, and disapponted in much of it.but thought a person could make a difference. if you study histolry you see many great civilisations have a 200 yr lifespan-we have passed that. I hate to think we cant negotiate through that, but I find it hard to see how we shall as polarized as its becoming-the corruption. the expectations of entitlement. the price a vote/politician can be bought for, the monetary favoritism. all I have is reduce politics/politicians, and increase the caring among our fellow man.

  12. Special K says:

    Let me take a moment to look at where we’ve moved in the past 30-50 years:
    Racial Justice: Better by every measure
    Nutrition: Better by every measure
    Medical Care: More confusing now, but still much better on average.
    Housing: Equality is better, houses are bigger on average. I’d count that as better.
    Income: Flat recently, but far better than 30-50 years ago on average
    Death by accident: Way down per captia
    Death by murder: Way down per captia
    Death by firearms: Way down
    Death by cancer: down

    You get the idea and maybe you don’t agree that all of these are better. Certainly there are horror stories in each of those areas, but things are still better than ever.

    Have we peaked? Maybe. Are we doomed? I don’t think so. I think the various forms of media are louder than ever and only the sensational gets notice. Don’t let it get to you so much that you give up. Look up and hang in there.

  13. Astin says:

    Other options, one of which I suggested after hoping for the old guard’s death:

    – Mandatory civics lessons and volunteer work among the poorest in their districts

    – Term limits to avoid the 90% incumbency that inexplicably goes with 10% approval.

    – And that youth movement? It needs to be sweeping. It needs to happen over the course of a few elections, before the new leaders get turned to the dark side by the old guard.

    – Every representative should have to take a Turing test to prove they’re not a robot.

  14. Astin says:

    Special K:

    Racial Justice: Sure, but still a long way to go.

    Nutrition: Debatable. America’s fatter than ever. More food is not the same as healthier food or better eating habits.

    Medical Care: Sure, medical science has advanced, but access and affordability are terrible in the States.

    Housing: Tell that to the millions who are still underwater or who once had a house. Bigger doesn’t equal better by a long shot.

    Income: The bottom 80% of the population has been generally flat since the 60’s in real terms (had grown, but has since dropped back), and their share of overall wealth has dropped dramatically. Considering most other prices have increased while income has stayed the same, that means people have very little left over.

    Firearms deaths: From the 90’s, but about the same as the 70’s, unless you mean per capita still. Still an embarrassment when compared to every other wealthy nation in the world.

    Murder rate: Among whites it’s been mostly stable (and relatively low). It has dropped among minorities.

    On top of all of this, you have to realize that there are those in power who are actively trying to dismantle advances. Stripping away voter protection, fighting against reasonable gun laws, cutting funding to welfare and food programs, hurting education, attacking healthcare reform, attacking science, fighting against environmental protection — the list goes on and on. So what improvements have been seen are being chipped away at. In the service of what?

  15. Special K says:


    I get your point. When I wrote “better”, I just meant better. Not best. Not done. I’d say that we mostly agree on the items I listed.

    However, your reply does demonstrate one of the main themes that Brad has raised through this entire exercise, and that others have voiced. Nowhere in your response to you signal that you got my point! Only that you were eager to rebut my list even though we mostly agree. You were talking past me without hearing what I really said. Maybe you did get it, but there’s no sign of it. Getting it doesn’t mean you agree necessarily, but it does validate that we are having a conversation instead of a debate. That, in my mind, is a big part of the problem. My protest sign of the day now reads “More Conversation, Less Debate”.

    Still love you anyway. 🙂

  16. Astin says:


    Fair enough, there is no judging panel awarding scores here (although one could argue that the voters fill that role in politics). But a conversation begins by finding a baseline of understanding. This usually means a real conversation begins with a small debate to figure out where each person is coming from. Then, once you’ve got an agreement on the problem at hand, discussion can move forward.

    If one states “people are making more money now.” and someone else says “in what terms? $30k doesn’t go as far today as $8k did in the 60’s.”, then terms can be defined. Is the conversation about absolute dollar value? Real wage increase? Poverty? Government support? A particular income group? Mutli-income households? It certainly makes for a better talk than two people arguing over the value of a dollar.

    Sadly, this seems to be something that is lacking in today’s politics (not only in the US). Reagan, Clinton, Gorbachev, Churchill, Trudeau, Mulroney, and pretty much any other leader of decades past knew how to publicly fight and privately negotiate. These days? That skill appears endangered at best. Again, I think we’re agreeing here.

  17. Astin says:

    Oh, and Brad:

    1) Thorogood is worse by a mile.
    2) Grizzly because Canadians are always better.
    3) 100 duck-sized horses because cute.

  18. G-Rob says:

    I think my positions on the important issues are well known.

    1) Thorogood is terrible. Steve Miller is the music played in hell.
    2) Grizzly. Seriously. Jesus this isn’t close..and while it would be staggeringly inhumane to stage this fight…if it happened naturally and you just happened to have a camera and then put it on pay-per-view I’d pay $19.99.
    3) Easiest one by far. A horse sized duck is a legitimately terrifying concept.

  19. RedxBranch says:


    1) Throw the bums out! Every representative and senator needs to be defeated in their next election as follows: If you are democrat elect/vote for a new democrat. If you are republican elect/vote for a new republican. I’m not asking you to change your personal ideology. Just make sure that the new ones did not take any funding from unverifiable/secret sources (the kind of funding that Citizens United allowed).

    2) The people of America need to wake up and realize that it isn’t really Democrats v. Republicans or Liberals v. Conservatives. Both of these groups serve the same masters. Those masters are the HAVES and they do whatever is necessary to keep their foot on the neck of the HAVE NOTS. This sounds like class warfare. Guess what….the HAVES have been practicing class warfare for generations. It’s time to fight back.

    Would this work? I don’t know. I think it would be a good start.

  20. Special K says:


    My money references were all in real dollars which adjusts for inflation. My population reference were per captia. Most people don’t know I have an MBA, but I have studied time value of money and such. I just don’t like it clouding my writing when I’m making a larger point.

    I’m sure you will find something in those statements that you’ll feel the need to correct. Send it directly to me. We’ve junked up Brad’s blog enough.

  21. teamscottsmith says:

    So I asked an expert. Dr. Patrick McMillan, Biologist, wildlife expert, and Host of (Emmy award winning) “Expeditions with Patrick McMillan” about the Gorilla vs Grizzly scenario. He agreed that if the Grizzly were to be able to get hold of the gorilla or get in one good hit with claw or tooth, that the gorilla is done for – BUT that he thinks the gorilla would most likely win the fight. It is partly a matter of maneuverability, but largely reach that tips it in favor of the gorilla. The gorilla has significant reach advantage and is very strong. He would run around the less mobile bear, and pummel him senseless. He just better not screw up and get hit by the bear, even once.

    So there you have it.

  22. KenP says:

    I listened to LBJ’s “Great Society” speech and even drank the Kool-aid.

    Go listen to it. It is timeless and still the order of the day.

    One description of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results.

    Media, schools, attention have altered the landscape — old ideas ingrained in modern thinking without viable results.

    You can flip this view to the other side and only the names change and you hear it on Fox.

    America’s greatness doesn’t come from Washington and never will. It comes from hard working people who do that for the promise of better. Government will never provide better. We have to look to ourselves and that gets harder and harder to do.

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