How to find leadership and courage in today’s political world | Livingston

What happens when we as residents of this community and great nation fail to realize that we are being managed in ways to make false choices that jeopardize the future of our community and nation?

Each election cycle generates tons of nasty false claims, propaganda and record distortions designed to stoke fear.

I am glad the current election cycle is over. But at the same time, I feel less informed and more worried about this country’s general direction. Collectively, our behavior as adults would fail the basic expectations of a preschool teacher trying to wrangle a bunch of three-year-olds.

If you want toddlers to behave badly, give them a daily or hourly dose of fear-stoking spiders and goblin stories or the equivalent of right-wing talk radio, Fox News, or the recent mangle of political ads designed to malign and fear-monger the opposing candidate. Watching or listening to misleading opinion-news, campaign ads and social media 24-7 does not mean you have done any research — it means you are being programmed to do someone’s bidding.

The creators of misinformation campaigns know their political rhetoric may get their candidate elected. The end result is that we are all becoming less safe, less knowledgeable about issues and no longer have any acceptable ideas or path for discussing best solutions. We need to grow up and quit being turned into lemmings by master manipulators.

Elected officials and candidates for office, locally and nationally, have been personally threatened based on their ideas, policy proposals, legislative achievements, gender, sexual orientation, as well as the color of their skin. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi’s husband was recently attacked in their San Francisco home by a deranged MAGA supporter. The political climate has become toxic for volunteers, staff, elected officials as well as their families. Unacceptable!

Plenty of cries of condemnation from mainstream media outlets but verbal dithering from right-wing media. Maybe we all need to go back to preschool to learn manners, good behavior, truth telling skills, how to share, and kindness.

Politics is sadly a blood sport about control, money, who gets to be included or excluded. Our nation has always had elements of being in a culture war controlled by the outcome of each election cycle. Our political contestants align around the idea of either wanting to improve lives for the greater good of all, or those who strive for power by manipulating the idea that they are the ones working for the greater good while disguising that their efforts generally accrue to those who work to manage our lives as a political capitalist Ponzi scheme.

The Jan. 6 hearings showed how cunning these master manipulators can be when they are operating with their entitled — “end justifies the means” philosophy. Democracy is under threat.

Our current state of politics is making us more dystopian as a nation, dysfunctional locally, and each of us are becoming more ignorant about policies, laws, what the facts are, and losing the ability to work together to solve anything. As a municipality, state and nation we are failing to navigate the choppiest of waters due to a Republican party willing to pursue power at all cost to appease the big lie propagated by our twice impeached former president.

Courage on the national stage is hard to find. Courage locally is equally hard to find. Maybe the pandemic rewired our notions of fairness, honesty, and respect for one another. We’d rather wait on the entertainment value of what Trump and his conspiratorial minions did today. Being the head of an angry mob does not make you a worthy leader of the free world.

Getting mad at MAGA republicans will not solve any of our nation’s ills — they believe the other half is the problem. They believe in the cult of personality, that truth and facts don’t matter, and the notion that somehow they will benefit directly from a more fascist style government as they impose their beliefs on the rest of us.

We have become a nation that is a collective cabal of ignorance arguing over misconceptions and half-truths. Adding to our information demise is the reality that 8 in 10 of us are getting our news from social media. We are as dumb as the current tweet or Russian trojan horse Facebook post and think we are now journalists or thought influencers because we added a comment or shared the feed.

Where does this stop? It stops when each and every one of us starts asking for the truth – substantiated by facts from each and every one of our politicians, news media providers, as well as holding ourselves to a standard of ethical accountability. We are the problem when we no longer have an open, caring and cautiously skeptical mind.

Our politicians get away with cheating us every day because we choose to abdicate our responsibility for learning history, not understanding how policy changes affect us and not questioning who really benefits. Case-in-point, we all know Trump lost the election so why do many of our politicians pander to the lie? Why do we let them?

Why didn’t our city council and mayor take a stand for election results integrity and pass a resolution against the “Big Lie” and the Jan. 6 assault on our democracy? Not one of them chose to be leaders and none of us asked them to, so like many municipalities across our nation it was easy to be silent. It would not have been a meaningless gesture – it would have been a gesture for assuring our democracy will survive with accountability and live up to its ideals as well as continue being a nation of laws.

Shame on us for not challenging our city council and mayor to lead. Integrity starts on the local level by confronting silence. Protecting our democracy and building a community that serves all starts with us.

Keith Livingston is a retired municipal management professional, lifelong artist and Federal Way resident. He can be reached at