Neither of today's major parties reflects the aspirations, fears or will of the majority of Americans. Both have polarized and alienated the people. Both are unduly influenced by single-issue groups. Both are excessively dominated by money. ... The two major parties are today simply neither relevant to the issues and challenges of the 21st Century nor effective in addressing them.Ron wishes he had written that (really!).
In his second column, In Search of Unity, Ron reports on the hoards of letters he received about the first article and includes quotes from a few. One writer excited about Norway's collecting seeds against a future cataclysm wonders, "Why isn't my government doing cool things like that?" Another wishing the Federal Reserve was more concerned about jobs than inflation exclaims, "This government just doesn't know or is unwilling or unable to address what is really important."
I don't know what else Norway could be doing. When you think of AIDS research, feeding starving Africans, funding the United Nations, providing disaster relief to tsunami and earthquake victims, or ending a world war Norway isn't at the top of the list. And though the priorities of the Federal Reserve may be one person's most important issue, it's not everyone's.
Most interesting is Ron's quote near the end of his article:
ABC News did a special report last month on "A Country Divided," showing how polarization is feeding on itself and spreading as people talk only with the like-minded and pay attention only to things that reinforce their views. Moderates, middle-grounders, have become political freaks.Several weeks ago a neighbor I've been mailing my essays to asked to be taken off the list. A fair request since they'd never asked to be on it. They said the articles were well written but they didn't agree with anything I said and were too busy to comment on them. I believe it.
A few months ago I attended a birthday party at a swanky Ferndale restaurant with as eclectic a gathering of people as their could be (a compliment to the birthday boy). Anything that could be discussed was discussed except for politics. After spending a few hours with these intelligent and well educated people I left the party not knowing any of them better than I know whomever designs the window displays in Birmingham.
Whoever suggested religion and politics should be avoided in polite conversation did America a great disservice. Whoever repeats that phrase suffocates the discourse our country desperately needs to prosper as a nation.
Much is said about the search for moderate politicians and the political middle ground. This, supposedly, is where Unity08 thinks the seeds of its ideas may find purchase. But on many topics there simply isn't a middle ground. We speak as though there's political wisdom in splitting the baby, but Unity08's goal is more like the two mothers' from the Old Testament than it is King Solomon's.
If Americans are willing to vote without debating the issues why should candidates debate the issues?
Free Press editors asked readers if it was proper for newspapers to endorse candidates. The propriety of endorsements is less an issue than the need for endorsements. Endorsements from organizations we respect saves us the time and effort of researching, debating, and forming our own opinions. Why risk forming an opinion when we can borrow the opinions of others? Why hold ourselves responsible for electing bums when we can blame others?
This was the attraction of term-limits. Rather than being responsible for voting a bum out of state office they'd be forced out after two terms. We delegated our responsibility to an amendment to take care of it for us. Unfortunately, term-limits don't distinguish between good elected officials and bad ones so the quality of our lawmakers cannot improve with successive elections. How would hockey fans have felt if Steve Yzerman was forced to leave the Red Wings after only two seasons?
This election year let your decisions be deliberate. Don't let any of your votes be accidental. Decide to vote your favorite color or not. Decide to let newspapers tell you who to vote for or do it yourself. Let The League of Women Voters ask questions or ask them yourself. Believe what you hear on television and radio commercials or read the proposals and debate them with your neighbors.
You're always welcome to debate them here.