Politics and uh…Politics

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The following piece got me thinking.  Ruben Navarrette of the Washington Post Writer’s Group wrote: Disagree with Cornel West, but don’t silence him,  which appeared in the Tri-City Herald on June 8, 2011.  [Background for those of you like me who are not familiar with Dr. West – He is a noted Black author and Princeton Professor, apparently quite adept at throwing darts at Republicans and the Right.]  In this piece Mr. Navarrette describes and discusses the recent series of verbal attacks on Dr. West.  These atacks are not coming from the Far Right or the Republican Party for being too “Left” which would be typical.  These attacks are coming form his “allies”, both black and white liberals.  Dr. West’s sin? – criticizing President Obama for being a puppet of Wall Street.  Isn’t “soft on Wall Street” a typical complaint of liberals?  But now it’s coming from one of their own and must be stopped.  In other words it isn’t the message, but the messenger.

Typical for Politics!

Per the American Heritage Dictonary, Politics: 3. a. The conducting of or engaging in political affairs…5. Partisan or factional intrigue within a given group: office politics.

Here are a few more examples and then I’ll get to my point.

Wall Street Journal, June 1, 2011, The Schumer Three-Step, “How to vote for a law and then raise money deploring its results”

Tri-City Herald, June, 3,2011, political cartoon by Matson shows two congressmen.  The first is saying ”Actually, I’m voting against it before I vote for it when a Republican is back in the White House.” The second is holding the “Clean Debt Ceiling Bill” and saying, “Well, I’m voting for it after I voted against it back when you voted for it when a Republican was in the White House.”

Tri-City Herald, June 10, 2011, Democratic women dodge call on Weiner.  “The scandal presents a maddening choice for these female leaders, [women in politics] none shy, between speaking out or keeping quiet about behavior that, at best, is disrespectful of women….’You’re right, I don’t like questions about Weiner, ‘ Sen. Dianne Feinstein [D-California] said with a smile.…Does she think Weiner should resign? ‘I’m not getting into that,’ she said.”   My question, if Weiner were a Republican would she be willing to “get into that”?

The last example is from history:  The “Monica Lewinsky Affair.”  My intuition would have told me that a large number of congressmen would have been inclined to down play the event, “Boys will be boys”, while the congresswomen would have been outraged .  But as you who are old enough remember, the “outrage” was essentially along party lines.  Republicans outraged, wanting President Clinton’s head, but Democrats, including ladies, were “disappointed.”

Now to my point  – Hard core partisan politics are bad for our Grandchildren’s future.

The problem is our leaders don’t care WHAT the idea is; they only care WHO has the idea.  (And lest we think our politicians are alone in caring more about WHO than WHAT, review definition 5, above and its example: office politics.)  The political teams (R’s & D’s) have been set, and our elected officials are practicing a zero sum game.  Anything that the other team supports must be opposed, especially if it appears to be a good idea, because that will make “THEM” look good to the American people.  Further, anything that makes “THEM” look bad must make “US” look good. 

Clearly it is good for the country to have political parties with differences of philosophy and approach to solving problems. Both parties have smart people with good opinions.  They need to blend and combine those opinions to produce sound, practical solutions.  This present tactic of drawing hard lines in the sand and then vilifying the other side does not produce the good solutions needed to hand off a better world to our grandchildren.

So what can we, the American People, do to influence/pressure our elected officials into putting America first and their political party second?  I believe two things: 1) Write letters to congress sharing our opinions especially on which compromises we can live with, e.g. the deficit, can we live with higher taxes, fewer benefits, or both?     2) Make it absolutely clear to all incumbents that pointing the finger at “Those guys” will not get them re-elected, solutions will.  A lack of progress will mean votes for the challengers.  Period.

We CAN hand off an excellent world to our Grandchildren if we roll up our sleeves and work at it.  We made sacrifices while we were raising our children, now we need to make some additional sacrifices for our Grandchildren’s future.

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