Richard Elfers

The last freedom is the choice of one’s attitude | Rich Elfers

Recently one of my courses at Green River College was dropped due to lack of enrollment. I wasn’t happy about it but there was nothing I could do. That left me with a choice: to mourn the loss, or to appreciate that I had enjoyed the benefit for five years. I chose to appreciate what I had.

Thoughts of death shape our politics | Rich Elfers

Does this apply to you? “More than 250 experiments in more than a dozen countries have demonstrated that reminding people of their mortality – activating networks about the fear of death – tends to tilt our brains to the right” (Drew Westen, “The Political Brain”).

The pursuit of happiness | Rich Elfers

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness….” These words make up the heart of who and what America is as a nation. But what is this pursuit of happiness? What does it mean?

Let’s get ready for a tumultuous 2016 | Rich Elfers

After the 9/11/2001 attacks al-Qaeda became our terrorist enemy. Today it is ISIS. If the pattern continues and we are able to weaken ISIS as we have al-Qaeda, another terrorist group will rise like “whack a mole” to take its place.

Issues change, but attitudes endure | Rich Elfers

The opposing visions of the Federalists and Anti-Federalists have battled and continue to battle each other since the U.S. Constitution was ratified (passed) between 1787 and 1790. These political parties have switched roles at differing times in American history.

‘Anti-immigrant’ is an American tradition | Rich Elfers

“This refugee stance is so un-American,” wrote Karen Morris in a News Tribune letter to the editor on Nov. 12, 2015.

Inflexible nationalism and beliefs a danger | Richard Elfers

World War II era German theologian Paul Althaus noted, “We Lutherans see Hitler as a gift and a miracle from God.” Why did most German Lutherans follow Hitler and not pastors like Dietrich Bonheoffer?

A historical perspective of Islamic State | Rich Elfers

I cringed as I watched the bloodbath claimed by ISIS in Paris in the news recently and wondered, “Why Paris?” The world was shocked by the wanton murder of at least 129 people while they ate their dinners, drove down the street and entered a soccer stadium.

The fourth estate and its responsibilities | Rich Elfers

Have you ever been asked “Gotcha!” questions in a public forum? This is what happened to Republican presidential candidates in the third debate recently. A few of the candidates called the moderators out on this behavior. It’s no wonder Republicans have listed “the liberal media bias” as one of their key talking points.

Human nature is a balancing act | Rich Elfers

This is Google’s core philosophy about human beings, according to Laslo Bock, Google’s head of people operation (human relations) in his recent book, “Work Rules!”

What goes around comes around | Rich Elfers

History has a way of repeating itself, but never in exactly the same way. After Chinese President Xi Jin Ping visited the Pacific Northwest and Washington, D.C., he flew to London where he was given a lavish red carpet treatment by the British government.

Freedom without order is chaos | Rich Elfers

Freedom! What a wonderful power—or is it? I considered that paradox after speaking with one of my Chinese students from Shanghai. I had asked him what had struck him most about being in America. His answer was, "all the freedom we enjoy in this country." It was such a contrast to his country's control under "socialist capitalism".

Campaigns are not for faint of heart | Rich Elfers

‘Tis the season for charge and countercharge, smear for smear, for endorsing candidates through letters to the editor, for articles from pundits like me, pointing all this out. Usually, the tactics of character assassination and ethics violations are used at the state and national level, but this year’s local contests are following the higher levels of government at least in their viciousness.

On both sides, moderates will emerge | Rich Elfers

There are two key assumptions about human nature that help me predict who the next U.S. presidential candidates will be. Putting these two assumptions together will help determine who the candidates will be in 2016.

Voters pick honesty over personality | Rich Elfers

Americans are having a debate over what makes someone a good leader, according to George Friedman in a recent Stratfor article entitled, “The Crisis of the Well-Crafted Candidate”. The current debate over whether business experience matters much in politics was reinforced in A Christian Science Monitor article by Pieter Grier called, “Does Carly Fiorina’s Business Experience at HP Matter?” The current pool of presidential candidates demonstrates there is change in voter attitudes about what makes a good president.

Federalists and Anti-Federalists, past and present | Rich Elfers

Do you know that attitudes created in the 1787-88 ratification of the Constitution are still with us today in our two major parties? Back then they were called Federalists and Anti-Federalists. Today these two perspectives are alive and well within the Republican and Democratic parties.

A tale of two presidential libraries | Rich Elfers

It caught my attention when the second Republican presidential debate took place Sept. 15 at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. I, as part of a group of teachers, visited the library on a weekend break during the National Academy on Civics and Government in July.

Why do we need government anyway? | Rich Elfers

Why do we need government anyway? It seems we argue about how government should be – smaller if Republican, bigger for Democrats – but we seem to ignore the greater question about the need for government in the first place. History and philosophy provide some of the answers.

Old ideas a part of our national DNA | Rich Elfers

Can you fill in the blanks? “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created ______, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are _______, ________, and the __________ of_______________.”

Focus on flaws harmful human nature | Rich Elfers

It is always easy to point out flaws. To prove this, just look at whatever is hot in the news media right now: the police and race, terrorism, the job rating of the president or Congress, the Republican primary process, the Iran vote – the list can be nearly endless.