It seems to me…
“Politics, noun. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.” ~ Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary.
The founding fathers of our nation – John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington – did not like each other but were able to put their personal differences aside and cooperate in the creation of our nation.
They were aware of potential problems similar to those now confronting us. As John Adams said[i], “We may please ourselves with the prospect of free and popular governments, but there is great danger that these governments will not make us happy. God grant they may! But I fear that in every Assembly members will obtain an influence by noise, not sense; by meanness, not greatness; by ignorance, not learning; by contracted hearts, not large souls. I fear, too, that it will be impossible to convince and persuade people to establish wise regulations.”
Now, opposing political parties are engaged in a conflict harmful to our nation where both sides engage in ever increasing hurling of mendacious statements, opprobrious invective, and wasteful costly campaign advertising whose sole goal is to characterize their opponents as evil, uncaring, and unpatriotic. Where is the spirit of compromise we need? How can personal differences and beliefs be set aside so our country can once again look forward to a better future rather to the problems of the past?
Our political system does not seem able to form broad coalitions necessary to resolve complex issues. We need to implement meaningful reforms, reduce wasteful spending and subsidies, increase savings, expand STEM education and technology, reform our tax code, correct immigration policies, develop a comprehensive energy plan, make adjustments to our health and welfare programs, etc…
Progress on any of these issues will require compromise and long-term perspective on all sides – something difficult to achieve given the current divisive political environment. Any politician that advocates for compromise or sensible solutions is marginalized by their party leadership, loses special-interest support, and publicly attacked by members of their own party.
I have some advice for political candidates: don’t tell me you are a Liberal or Conservative. Tell me how you are going to represent the people of our country. Don’t bind yourself to someone else’s narrow ideology. I’m old enough to have seen too many of them come and go. Extremism is exactly that – extreme. In that sense, conservatism and liberalism are just “…ism”s – no different than communism, fascism or any other similar ideology. Political rigidity does not serve our country; especially now when there is a need to heal the divide separating us and work together on the problems facing us.
While I generally consider myself an Independent equally critical of all political parties, I have become increasingly captious of Conservatives in this election cycle. Basic differences between the major political parties have become significantly larger during this current campaign. It is difficult to identify exactly why but Republicans are considerably more dour, less optimistic, much more negative than their Democratic counterparts. Perhaps it is that Republicans tend to look back to a golden age of our country that never actually was while Democrats are more inclined to live in a fantasy world imagining possibilities that never will be. While everyone occasionally is nostalgic for once was, it seems far better to live in the present rather than the past.
It seems as though every conservative is angry at our country. Regardless of what they might believe, now is the very best time to be alive in all previous history – and it will only get better if we do not permit negativity to prevent us from moving forward.
Conservatives have developed a severe case of sclerosis of vision. The two most destructive emotions we experience are regret and fear of the unknown. Republicans suffer from both. They regret the changes they see taking place: demographics (older, minorities…), social values (marriage, sexual…), and other changes from when they were younger. They believe our values of hard work, thrift, and obedience to the law have been eroded. They deeply resent immigrants, female equality, gays, government programs, open trade, and non-English language options[ii].
Might advice to them is – Get A Life…
That’s what I think, what about you?