John Pryor

John Pryor, CPCU, is a risk management consultant and adjunct professor of risk management and insurance at CSU Bakersfield.

Current friendships need to be nurtured. Long-term friendships need to be perpetuated.

Such was the case with a friend who also grew up in Bakersfield. We were fraternity brothers in college and together in Navy Officer Candidate School. Once commissioned, orders took us to very different, far reaches of the world.

Yet our friendship endured.

After Navy duty, I returned to Bakersfield to join our local business community. My friend served in management for California agri-business companies and ultimately as CEO of a major agri-business corporation in New York state. Then he returned to San Francisco to retire.

Today, our connection is principally by e-mail. In a recent “e-pistle,” I included a quote by one of my heroes, Valley farmer and Stanford Hoover Institution historian, Victor Davis Hanson. It was a lengthy comparison and (mostly) contrast of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

A small sample is:

Clinton was a creature of government, Trump often at war with it.

Her essence was predicated on the approval of an elite; he thrived on its disdain.

Hillary’s misdeeds were far worse than her reputation; the Donald’s reputation far worse than his misdeeds.

You get the idea.

My friend responded by saying he recently changed his voter registration to Independent because “Both political parties are totally incompetent!’

I said, “You are SO correct!” and then added the following comments.

Despite incompetence of most (but not all) “professional” politicians of all stripes, a rank amateur politician, yet highly competent, performance-driven businessman, quickly accomplished what his four POTUS predecessors promised but never delivered.

Despite Trump’s poor personality performance, he’s leading our country’s political performance in the right direction. As we say in business, it’s KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that matter! Not Key Personality Indicators.

  • Examples include record-setting performance improvements in our economy:
  • Higher employment levels for all segments of our culture
  • Tax reductions for individuals
  • Manufacturing firms returning their facilities to our soil from overseas
  • Impressive stock market performance
  • Refreshing removal of punitive business regulations

Performance improvement in international relations:

  • Improving trade despite presumably temporary tariffs to set the stage for ultimate negotiation (from strength) for free trade that’s also fair trade
  • The move of our embassy to Jerusalem
  • The return of prisoners and military remains
  • Border security is in process as is denuclearization of North Korea

And much more, of course!

Many voted for Trump “while holding their nose” (myself included) solely because of his potential for appointing a constitution-focused Supreme Court Justice. Now he has still another such SCOTUS appointment!

This is history-changing for the better because he’s helping our country return to its fundamental constitutional principles, not more “watering down” of our Constitution, a descriptive term former Congressman Bill Thomas correctly used in a conversation with me.

I’m not convinced that improvements will continue unless we persist in voting out incompetent Coastal Elitists, as Hanson correctly characterizes the actual battle. It’s neither Republicans versus Democrats nor Liberals versus Conservatives. The true battle is Coastal Elites (the Establishment) versus Populists (the rest of us).

This is especially true within our California legislature.

Elites also are found in higher education. Universities are so elitist today, the notion of free speech (as prevailed in Berkeley in the 1960s) is virtually non-existent today. Civil discourse has disappeared. Personal attacks – verbal and physical – prevail.

Hanson commented recently, “I am blessed by living on a farm part of the week, and at Stanford the other few days. It gives one a scale by which to calibrate academic madness. In comparison to academics, farmers are mostly sane.”

Old friends agree – yet can still disagree without being disagreeable. They do so without personal attacks, vandalism, and property destruction, or worse. 

Civil political discourse can be restored to its former statesmanship level of agreement or disagreement – just as if we all are old friends – but only if opponents will talk civilly about genuine issues, not personality idiosyncrasies.

John Pryor, CPCU, ARM, is management consultant for CSU Bakersfield’s Small Business Development Center.