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Political Aikido: Transcending the 2024 Presidential Debates
Let’s Create a New Reality
After the Democratic National Committee (DNC) undemocratically crowned President Biden as their nominee, many are justifiably decrying the DNC’s shameless and shameful decree to cancel the Democratic presidential debates in 2024. I welcome this arrogant authoritarian move as an unintended gift.
Instead of fighting the DNC’s power grab, it would be far better to go with the flow and play the cards they dealt us intelligently. Let them show their true colors and use this opportunity to outshine them.
In the spirit of Aikido, we can flip their force against democracy to nonviolently elevate democracy. We can vibrate at a higher frequency that will be more appealing and compelling. Let’s create something far, far superior to the usual boring debates with rules, selected moderators and questions designed to control and limit what the public gets to witness.
The “law of opposites” can play out, allowing the DNC to create what they are trying to prevent so that “what they resist persists,” and evolves.
If the DNC thought that Biden would shine in the debates, they would eagerly promote them. The DNC is revealing their unstated intentions, as is FOX News in firing Tucker Carlson, and the RNC with its infighting, These archaic systems are decaying. Let’s not stand in their way.
"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change
something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."
"The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the
old, but on building the new." —Dan Millman
We don’t have to let the DNC dictate what they permit us to do. What kind of leadership is that?
Rather than oppose the DNC, let’s transcend money-driven, power politics as usual. Let’s create a vibrant new reality that allows the public to experience new leaders in new formats, who talk honestly and openly for a change.
How about Bobby Kennedy Jr. and Marianne Williamson having their own debates? They don’t have to appear on a stage next to Biden for the public to notice the contrast.
Why even constrain them to a debate? A deep dialogue on the state of our country and the world would be even more valuable. Both speak truth, agree on much and rise above mindless partisan thinking.
Let’s remember that the League of Women Voters Education Fund (LWVEF) sponsored higher quality debates every four years from 1976 until 1984. Then they were sabotaged by the new Commission on Presidential Debates which exercised party control with new rules and restrictions, untenable to the LWV.
We could resurrect the superior LWVEF debates, or better yet, create a new model that does not stuff candidates into a box that pits them against each other. Instead of manipulating candidates with gotcha questions, candidates can be allowed to shine and illuminate their visions, intellect and policies. Candidates can even be allowed to agree, to respond to each other, to brainstorm solutions, and show how they will serve the country whether they win or not.
We can attract even more attention than the antiquated debates of the past. A new model could feature enlightened, independent, post partisan, truly democratic processes. We can create a new format with new rules, different styles of questioning and selection of moderators that will give the public a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of the candidates, their policies and their humanity.
In addition to Democratic Party debates they could invite independent, Libertarian, Republican, Green, People’s Party and other candidates. Let creativity abound!
This would be a paradigm shift and help raise us out of our simplistic, dualistic, antagonistic national mindset and our national sport of compulsory mutual disparagement.
”The soft and the pliable will defeat the hard and strong” --- Lao Tsu, Founder of Taoism
A basic principle of Aikido, as well as Tai Chi and other martial arts is taking the force of a bigger and more powerful opponent and turning it to one’s own advantage in a way that is nonviolent. (See more on Aikido in the Addendum below)
Let’s not fret over the fact that the DNC cancelled presidential debates. It is not a loss but a potential gain. Do we really think those contrived, rigged debates are the best way to help the public decide who would be the best president?
Let’s welcome this small-minded, embarrassing dictate and not fight it. We don’t have to discredit them -- they are doing a pretty good job of it themselves.
Let’s create something new, better, higher, deeper, wider, refreshing, enlightening, stimulating, and even fun, and yes, beautiful.
"When I am working on a problem I never think about beauty. I only think about how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong. " - Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983)
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ADDENDUM – More on AIKIDO
Here are some excerpts from Duck Duck, Go (I boycott Google).
Aikido means the “Way of Unifying,” It is composed of three words.
Ay – Harmony
Ki – Energy
Do – Path
· Self-discipline, high moral character and self-development.
· Do not meet brute force with brute force. The attacker’s energy and momentum are redirected to use the opponent’s strength against them.
· Focus on one’s personal virtue to achieve universal harmony
· Use opponent’s actions to determine response
· Use principles of physics like balance, angles, and momentum to take full advantage of the opponent.
· Save the body, roll safely when thrown, and minimize exposure to injury.
· Use efficiency and leverage natural body movements. Use opponent’s energy, not force on force
· Extend love and compassion to others.
· The aim is to leave both the defender and the attacker unharmed.
· A small well-trained fighter can win over a larger, stronger opponent
· There are no offensive moves in aikido.
· Disarm the attacker.
· Aikido uses flowing, beautiful moves.
· Aikido practitioners train to subdue, rather than maim or kill
Aikido and tai chi are “soft” martial arts that use principles from physics such as momentum and weight to counter the intentions of potential aggressors. They are considered peaceful arts because training includes becoming acutely attuned to the surroundings and acting in response to any changes. The response, even to an aggressor, aims to neutralize and bring harmony back to the situation.
The Oomoto Religion made world harmony and peace a central focus of their new doctrine. They believe that achieving universal harmony would be achieved by each individual focusing on their own personal virtue.
They saw that force should be applied with the minimal necessary amount with the goal of self-preservation and neutralizing the situation. They also saw how martial skill and internal harmony could be developed simultaneously.
…. O-Sensei (Morihei Ueshiba, Founder) conceived of Aikido as not only a means of vanquishing a foe, but as a means of promoting the positive character of the ideal warrior and ultimately of transcending dualistic conflict. For O-Sensei, Aikido was a path of self-development. He believed that it could be a means for anyone, of any nation, to follow the same path. Aikido is shugyo: an intense physical and spiritual training to perfect human character and develop true wisdom.
Rather than primarily linear motions, Aikido is comprised of blending, turning, pivoting, circling, and spiraling. We are learning to deal not only with our own energy, but with that of an attacker or another person (or people) as well.
The ability to maintain physical center and mental calm helps us in meeting stressful situations or in resolving conflict in a variety of situations in the dojo, on the street, at school, in a business meeting, or at home. Most martial arts can help us improve physical things like balance, timing, and reaction. One of the purposes of repeated training is to move these things from conscious processing to automatic reflex. Aikido also helps us develop our spirit, sense of well-being, awareness and compassion. The multi-faceted approach to Aikido training makes us stronger and more complete human beings, better able to diffuse or defend against negative situations.
 Acknowledgement and gratitude to David Schonbrunn for help with editing
 After 1984, the Democratic and Republican national parties decided to shift debate sponsorship to go under the control of the parties. In 1987, they created the Commission on Presidential Debates.
“The Commission chose LWVEF to sponsor the last presidential debate of 1988, but placed so many rules and restrictions on the possible format of the debate that the LWVEF was finally unable to agree to participate. In a press release at the time, Nancy Neuman, then LWVUS President, stated that the League had “no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public.”