Political Alzheimer’s

Every year around the time of the Winter Solstice the Pope gets together with the leaders of his ‘party’, the Roman Curia.

This year Pope Francis spiced up the proceedings by outlining fifteen failings, or ailments, he’d like to see addressed.

Many of these can be applied equally well to our own San Diego County Democratic Party and are worth considering as we look to elect new leadership early in the New Year.

As we prepare to start the pre-2016 election year, now’s the time to make necessary changes or corrections, to paraphrase the Pope – speaking the truth, we can grow up, when each member works together the Democratic Party grows and builds itself.

With credit, and apology, to the Vatican’s news office.

  1. “The sickness of considering oneself ‘immortal’, ‘immune’ or ‘indispensable’, neglecting the necessary and habitual controls. A Party that is not self-critical, that does not stay up-to-date, that does not seek to better itself, is an ailing party. … It is the sickness of the rich fool who thinks she will live for all eternity, and of those who transform themselves into leaders and believe themselves superior to others, rather than at their service”.
  2. “‘Martha-ism’, or excessive industriousness; the sickness of those who immerse themselves in work, inevitably neglecting ‘the better part’ of sitting with the grassroots. Therefore, the Democratic Party requires its members to rest a little, as neglecting the necessary rest leads to stress and agitation. Rest, once one who has brought her mission to a close, is a necessary duty and must be taken seriously: in spending a little time with relatives and respecting the holidays as a time for spiritual and physical replenishment, it is necessary to learn that ‘there is a time for everything’.”
  3. “The sickness of mental and political hardening: that of those who, along the way, lose their inner serenity, vivacity and boldness and conceal themselves behind paper, becoming working machines rather than members of the Democratic Party. … It is dangerous to lose the human sensibility necessary to be able to weep with those who weep and to rejoice with those who rejoice! It is the sickness of those who lose those sentiments that are present in the Democratic Party”.
  4. “The ailment of excessive planning and functionalism: this is when the members plan everything in detail and believe that, by perfect planning things effectively progress, thus becoming a sort of accountant. … One falls prey to this sickness because it is easier and more convenient to settle into static and unchanging positions. Indeed, the Democratic Party shows itself to be faithful to Democratic principles to the extent that it does not seek to regulate or domesticate them. The soul of the Democratic Party is freshness, imagination and innovation”
  5. “Sickness of poor coordination develops when communication between members is lost, and the Democratic Party loses its harmonious functionality and its temperance, becoming an orchestra of cacophony because the members do not collaborate and do not work together as a team.”
  6. “Political Alzheimer’s disease, or rather forgetfulness of principles, of the personal history with the Democratic Party, of the ‘first love’: this is a progressive decline of political faculties, that over a period of time causes serious handicaps, making one incapable of carrying out certain activities autonomously, living in a state of absolute dependence on one’s own often imaginary views. We see this is those who have lost their recollection of their encounter with the Democratic Party … in those who build walls around themselves and who increasingly transform into slaves to the false values they have sculpted with their own hands”.
  7. “The ailment of rivalry and vainglory: when appearances, the color of one’s robes, insignia and honors become the most important aim in life. … It is the disorder that leads us to become false men and women, living a false ‘politics’ and expressing false ‘values’.”
  8. “Existential schizophrenia: the sickness of those who live a double life, fruit of the hypocrisy typical of the mediocre and the political emptiness that cannot be filled by degrees or academic honors. This ailment particularly afflicts those who, abandon grassroots organizing, limit themselves to bureaucratic matters, thus losing contact with reality and with real people. They create a parallel world of their own, where they set aside everything they teach with severity to others and live a hidden, often dissolute life.”
  9. “Chatter, grumbling and gossip: this is a serious illness that begins simply, often just in the form of having a chat, and takes people over, turning them into sowers of discord, like Republicans, and in many cases cold-blooded murderers of the reputations of their colleagues and brethren. It is the sickness of the cowardly who, not having the courage to speak directly to the people involved, instead speak behind their backs”.
  10. “The sickness of deifying leaders is typical of those who court their superiors, with the hope of receiving their benevolence. They are victims of careerism and opportunism, honoring people rather than Policy. They are people who experience service thinking only of what they might obtain and not of what they should give. They are mean, unhappy and inspired only by their fatal selfishness.”
  11. “The disease of indifference towards others arises when each person thinks only of herself, and loses the sincerity and warmth of personal relationships. When the most expert does not put her knowledge to the service of less expert colleagues; when out of jealousy … one experiences joy in seeing another person demoted instead of lifting her up or encouraging her.”
  12. “The illness of the funereal face: or rather, that of the gruff and the grim, those who believe that in order to be serious it is necessary to paint their faces with melancholy and severity, and to treat others – especially those they consider inferior – with rigidity, hardness and arrogance. In reality, theatrical severity and sterile pessimism are often symptoms of fear and insecurity.”
  13. “The disease of accumulation: when the member seeks to fill an existential emptiness of ideology by accumulating material goods, not out of necessity but simply to feel secure. … Accumulation only burdens and inexorably slows down our progress.”
  14. “The ailment of closed circles: when belonging to a group becomes stronger than belonging to the Democratic Party and, in some situations, to Democratic principles. This sickness too may start from good intentions but, as time passes, enslaves members and becomes a ‘cancer’ that threatens the harmony of the Democratic Party and causes a great deal of harm – scandals – especially to our grassroots members.”
  15. The “disease of worldly profit and exhibitionism: when the member transforms her service into power, and her power into goods to obtain worldly profits or more power. This is the disease of those who seek insatiably to multiply their power and are therefore capable of slandering, defaming and discrediting others, even in newspapers and magazines, naturally in order to brag and to show they are more capable than others.”

John Loughlin, Chair Communications CommitteeEthnically Catholic, Born Again Atheist

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Point Loma Democratic Club of which he is a member.

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