I, a lifelong Republican, voted for Barack Obama. And, I did so because I believed he had the ability to reverse the incivility that had been growing in fervor and now dominates the political environment, especially at the presidential level.
FDR was our president when I was born, but the first presidential campaign I was able to follow with a modicum of understanding was between Dwight D. Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson. With increasing levels of enthusiasm and political understanding, I’ve followed every one of them since then.
And, HOW things have changed, particularly over the past 25-years or so! Today, it’s become a matter of defeating the other side no matter WHAT. All the talk on BOTH sides concerning the good of the country has become pure bafflegab spun by armies of clueless partisan myrmidons.
In my mind, reducing the level of incivility, alone, would have paved the way to a far more collegial political environment capable of addressing concerns common to America’s general good than just defeating the opposition at all costs.
No, it wouldn’t have eliminated the cultural differences between the two parties, but that’s neither desirable nor practical. Philosophically, it’s very important for Republicans to remain Republicans and Democrats to remain Democrats.
But, for whichever reasons, the levels of viciousness aimed at both, the President’s policies AND Mr. Obama himself, have reached unprecedented proportions. So, I’m giving him a pass, at least for now, on his failure to put a dent in the matter of political and social incivility.
The Republican Party tends to be more organized than Democrats are and they focus on fewer, but much more attainable goals. They set their sights on winning an election FIRST, and leaving the internal bickering for later.
The Democrats, on the other hand, tend to be much more public with their positional disagreements. As well, their goals are vastly more ideologically encompassing. The desired ends are laudable but often not financially realistic.
I’ve often gotten the impression that, as a political party, they’d rather lose an election than compromise on ANY position, no matter how unreasonable.
Nevertheless, Liberal/Conservative balance, supported by well-reasoned and workable compromise, is still the blood supply of an effective representative democracy.
But, it can’t long work if the electorate is not issue-informed and fails to participate in the political process. Otherwise, we end up fostering long-term job security for career politicians.
Also, an uninformed public seriously strengthens the influence wielded by omnipresent pundit TV and “issue-oriented” talk radio.
These people, with the help of money-laden special interest groups and that digital wonder called the Internet—a simultaneous wonder and a curse—do nothing more than intensify political dysfunction.
Informed debate is dead. Gut-feel is the new reality; entertainment is now a new media directive.
And, since nothing entertains the clueless as steadily as populism, absurd hissy-fitting, tempered by passing off conjecture based on subjective drivel is now in the preponderance.
Both political extremes, Left and Right, aided by a growing national political apathy, have elevated “getting elected” to the status of IMPERATIVE, while reducing the truth to a mere OPTION.
If it continues, the country is doomed to a sure, but ever so slow death. And, its chief architect is not associated with either of the political wings, but rather an ever-increasing propensity of the national electorate for letting itself be ruled primarily by its aggregate gut instead of its intellect.
If I’m right, I’m one of the lucky ones. My age puts me much closer to life’s freeway off-ramp than many of you. So, I won’t have deal with the consequences of this nonsense.
For sure, this country’s very young children may well have to deal with the consequences of our current behavior. And, I shudder at the thought of the way millions of yet-to-be-born grandchildren WILL have to live if we don’t stop this crap and SOON.
Mr. Obama has been in office only a year and already political undertakers are lining up to conduct his political wake. They’ve begun writing his political obituary. But, count me out.
Admittedly, he (Obama) faces many problems, most not of his own creation. But, he faces a GLARING one that he DID create, even though it was the fateful result of pure political naivety.
Like it or not, it remains a primary function of the faculty at the University of Hard Knocks to make sure that its unwary graduates feel the pain caused by unintended consequences and on-the-job training.
Being a United States Senator is different from being its President in the same light that RUNNING for President is a cakewalk compared to BEING the President.
Hopefully, Mr. Obama has finally realized that a loyal opposition that plays to ideological obstinacy for the sake of it is not going to “work” WITH him to achieve ANYTHING but his and his party’s defeat.
Astute but affable candidates are experts at combining two skill-sets: setting a short, reasonably attainable To-do list and mastering the art of ambiguity. The Politician’s How-to Manual clearly explains the process.
Those who ignore it do so at their own peril. American voters tend to “hear” what they want to hear, no matter what the candidates actually say.
Unambiguous promises with too many details often amount to political suicide. Those that make them find out, first hand, the devastation wrought by the term, “fat chance” as it applies to following through on promises.
Unfortunately, it seems that Mr. Obama skimmed the chapter too quickly. His To-do list was too long from the beginning and he promised things that he’d not be able to deliver because he could not control the circumstances needed to do so.
And, while honest consensus building is a laudable goal, its pursuit is wasted effort when the opposition, not only the extremes on the Republican side, but also the extremes within HIS OWN party, is simply not interested.
The number of registered Democrats is higher than is the number of registered Republicans. If the entire constituencies of both parties turned out for elections, the Republicans would be the losers.
But, there is a voting bloc in this country that decides the ultimate outcome. It’s called INDEPENDENT. And, THIS is the group that tends to discount pundit TV and “issue-oriented” radio windbaggery, choosing to look at real issues instead.
If Mr. Obama has truly heard the “word” and decides to play “politics” in the image of past, powerful Democrats—and this includes Robert Byrd who’s actually dead but refuses to lie down—that knew how to instill the fear of God into their own party's detractors, ALL bets against a second term are OFF.
This, of course, will not be any more beneficial to the country than the persistent ideological hissy-fitting that’s currently the case, but it will be interesting to watch and may well result in a second term for President Obama.
The purple-state residents—neither red nor blue—have had it. They don’t give a damn about party affiliation. They’re sick of the status-quo garbage coming from Washington, DC. They want results. Hopefully they’ve begun sending the ultimatum memos.
Joe Walther is a freelance writer and publisher of The True Facts. You may comment on his column by clicking here.