Thanks for joining us today. Today marks the final stop on the Tom Ufert Political Craps blog tour. I hope you have enjoyed the tour so far. Whether this is your first stop or if you have followed us every step of the way, you support is very much appreciated.
Today we have the second and final interview with the man himself, Tom Ufert. Take it away Tom.
Q. How do you think the economic decline in recent years has impacted the US political scene?
A, Historically speaking, in times of economic strife the vast majority of people will turn to almost any voice that offers answers regardless of its incredulity. After two foreign wars that challenged the very soul of American patriotism, the resulting economic recession struck a devastating blow to the national sense of pride. After dedicating the nation to a war of reciprocity in Afghanistan for 9/11, America was then misled by faulty intelligence over Iraq’s supposed stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). This “betrayal” that cost thousands of lives and trillions of dollars served to undermine public trust in the government. Hence the stage was set for a populace yearning for a hopeful future. Campaign promises by Barak Obama of a more transparent government that would end the two foreign wars and rejuvenate American society for the new 21st century appealed to a nation in need of hope. Unfortunately the massive economic recession, the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s, derailed and distracted Obama’s message. Initiatives to counter this economic blow, such as the financial & auto industry bail outs as well as Obamacare, were prime fodder for fringe political voices to take center stage as viable alternatives. The economic woes have forced a detrimental polarization of the national political scene that is bereft with dysfunctional gridlock and the near disappearance of more moderate voices to bridge the gap.
Q. Do you think that the public really has a chance to make themselves heard, or is that just a lost ideal?
A, Call me an idealist or misguided fool, but I firmly believe that the American people can make themselves heard! I intentionally researched my new book, Political Craps, solely from the internet to prove that in this day and age citizens have access to more information than ever before. The vast resources and global outreach of social media communication through the internet make civic activism in politics more influential than any time in human history. Egypt during the Arab Spring is a prime example. Therefore, any assertion that the People’s voice has no effective influence is a fallacy perpetrated to dissuade voters from exercising their rightful power to make a difference. The internet has vastly expanded the freedom of speech, expression and an individual’s access to the corridors of power. The power of the People is not a lost ideal and the information age as enhanced by global computerized communications has multiplied their effective influence tenfold. We only need to realize it, utilize it and benefit from it.
Q. What needs to change?
A. The first thing that needs to change is the perilous misconception that “my vote doesn’t count.” Second, voters must re-assert their power over the electoral process. Third, a re-evaluation of the educational system must be conducted to eradicate flaws that have allowed core values in civic responsibility and the value therein to perpetuate a sense of voter inefficacy. Fourth, congress and both political parties must address campaign finance reform. Fifth, national debates about term limits, independent non-partisan redistricting, campaign expenditure limits and equitable public financing for all candidates must be vigorously initiated to allow the marketplace of ideas to sort out practical solutions. Sixth, a nationwide campaign to pass a constitutional amendment reversing recent Supreme Court decisions such as Citizens United must be pursued.
Q. How would you change it?
A. I would advocate a grassroots policy oriented campaign whose sole purpose would be to market these ideas through local, state and national candidates for public office. This will be no easy quick fix endeavour. It is impossible to reverse decades of conceptual decay and entrenched public opinion overnight. Citizens dedicated to meaningful change and reform have to unite as a coherent political advocacy group intent on holding potential candidates accountable for their positions on these issues. Legal, political, educational, intellectual, and economic luminaries have to actively participate through mass communication systems in a concerted effort to re-awaken the American mind. We the People can no longer afford to sit idly by in an apathetic stupor as well financed and influential special interests intentionally sectionalize the public into competing demographic groups. The old adage of “united we stand, divided we fall” has become a reality in America’s contemporary politics. This grassroots movement must exert its influence from the local level with school board/county representative/city council elections to state legislature campaigns all the way to federal congressional races. Citizens have to be personally responsible by regularly maintaining their voter registration enrolment, attending city council meetings and public hearings for all sorts of issues brought before the voting public. Failure to re-instil public pride in participatory democracy will surely witness America’s continued political dysfunction. In the end the People will have no one to blame but themselves!
Q. There is an ever widening gap between the upper and middle classes. What impact does this have on the political scene?
A. In recent years there has been an ongoing political debate between Democrats/Republicans, Conservatives/Liberals over the contention that the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the middle class is shrinking. Facts and statistics don’t lie. Income disparity and the growing inequity between Wall Street and Main Street have spurred an assertion that the “American dream” is rapidly becoming the “American scream.” Unfortunately this debate is being waged by fringe political schools of economic thought that argue for extreme positions of either “supply side economics” or “the welfare state.” In reality, a moderate balance of the two has historically maintained a thriving middle class where socio-economic mobility was the key to achieving the American dream for anyone willing to work for it. Contemporary political positions have allowed gross stereotypes to be applied for Democrats as the common man’s party and Republicans as the party of the rich. Neither description is entirely accurate, especially when both parties are subject to equal criticisms of corruption, scandal, and dysfunction. America’s economic woes and sluggish employment trends are the result of voters swinging from one end of the partisan pendulum to the other in search of a successful public policy agenda. This has been further complicated by the simultaneous emergence of a transitional economy from industrialization to Informationalization. This rapid transition has been completely unaccompanied by any long term strategic planning with regards to manufacturing, infrastructure, education or research & development (R&D). There’s plenty of blame to go around for this oversight!
Q. Do you think that more should be done to educate children on politics and ethics in school?
A. UNQUESTIONABLY! As society’s demand for engineers, mathematicians and scientists has increased due to the rapid transitioning of economic means of production, we have forgotten two primary components of a highly educated populace. First, popular sentiment has transformed from the concept of “yearn to learn” to the predominately held drive of “yearn to earn.” Second, there is no longer a driving national spirit to be well rounded and moulded in the model of a “Renaissance” education. Hence, priorities in social science curriculums giving equal value to the arts, literature, history and civics have fallen prey to the budgetary axe. Students today are no longer instilled with the noble American principles of patriotism, civic responsibility or humanitarianism. Rather, their educational aspirations are solely focused on financial gain which is indelibly clouded by apathetic mistrust of government and politics. Considering today’s leadership class, who can blame them? There are few political figures that engender a sense of heroic admiration. Besides when society idolizes get rich role models like sports superstars and entertainment industry celebrities over public servants, what incentive is there for our young people to dedicate their lives and careers to community service?
Q. Can people really make a difference as individuals or does it need to be a collective effort?
A. That’s a really tough distinction to make, especially today. As a modern society, we have gone to great lengths to emphasize the importance of the individual almost sacrificing the value of a collective conscience. Yes, people can and do make a difference as individuals. However, any successful individual worth their weight will be the first to acknowledge that they would have never achieved that success without the assistance of others. Furthermore, great leaders, “movers & shakers” or captains of industry are nothing more than individuals shaped by “the village.” Every influential movement in human history has had leaders and followers. The only difference between the two is vision. Nonetheless, without both leaders and followers working in tandem as a collective effort no movement can ever accomplish meaningful results. As human beings we are all unique individuals with common characteristics. As such, we each have the potential to achieve great things yet together we accomplish the greatest things!
Tom Ufert “is an inspirational voice in our troubled times.” He received his bachelor of arts in political science and history as a scholarship recipient from Centenary College of Louisiana. Tom is a former Rotary International graduate Fellow who attended Australian National University in Canberra, ACT, specializing in East Asian political affairs and was a White House Fellow nominee. He is a former Lyndon Baines Johnson Congressional Intern and constituency aid for two former United States members of Congress. His past services for 11 political campaigns on both sides of the aisle were highly valued by former Louisiana Governor Charles “Buddy” Roemer, Henson Moore the former assistant chief of staff to U.S. Vice President George H.W. Bush, and the recently retired U.S. Trade Ambassador, Ron Kirk.
At age 23 he was the youngest artistic Board Chairman in the United States as head of the Shreveport Summer Music Festival. Mr. Ufert has served as a member of two other 501(c) three charity boards including his beloved fraternity Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia as well as the community advisory board for his former rehabilitation hospital. Over the years he has acquired extensive customer service experience in the food and beverage, hotel, insurance, home security, and pharmaceutical industries. His professional memberships include Phi Alpha Theta, Sigma Tau Delta, and the Worldwide Who’s Who. In recent years he has worked tirelessly as a volunteer fundraiser for numerous AIDS charities in his community and served briefly as the community affairs liaison for Legacy Founders Cottage.
Tom Ufert, a native of Louisiana, now resides in Texas. He is an Amazon Best Selling Author for his second book On The Roll Again, his first book, Adversity Builds Character received high acclaim with numerous 5 Star reviews, as has his newest release Political Craps. In fact all three books and several of his essay booklets have garnered distinction as Amazon’s Top 20 Best Sellers. Perhaps Mr. Ufert’s greatest claim to fame is that every book he sells contributes directly to charity through his charitable book entity Stand Strong For Others.