Tuesday, October 2, 2012

In preparation for the Wednesday Presidential debate

I'm going to begin with a little bit of a confession here, a baring of the soul. Here's the truth: I'm a nerd when it comes to the American political system of government. I read profusely (from a variety of sources) the arguments and plans of all politicians. I like to watch debates on TV. I generally watch the President of the United States address the nation, like the State of the Union, out of respect for the office. I admit, I sometimes talk back to the TV. OK, let's be real, sometimes I yell.

Tomorrow is the first debate for President between Mitt Romney and Barak Obama. I'll be tuned in. And I thought that tonight would be fitting to write in preparation for tomorrow.

While I'm being a truth-teller, I'll disclose that I'm a registered Democrat. I know in writing this, I'm being judged by everyone's perception of what a "Democrat" is to them in their mind. When you tell someone you are a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or Independent, certain judgements are automatically made about you. Something about this is slightly unfortunate. So I'll also share (for, I  guess, maybe, a bit of credibility) that I've voted for Republicans.

For a little more credibility, here is the breakdown in our household:
  • Me - registered Democrat
  • Michelle - registered Independent
  • Charlie - (he tells me he is a strict Republican, always has been)
I'm concerned how both sides (because, let's face it, there are only two sides right now, as there are no other voices strong enough to overcome our two-party system) characterize the other, oftentimes with unfair generalizations. Because of this, there is little true discussion about what really matters. All one has to do is look at what is being posted on Facebook.

Here's one:
I do think that we have a personal and moral obligation to individually help others through good-will and charity. This is ideal. Being compassionate and understanding with others is also favorable.  However, I'm not sure that our government holds people hostage (I'm guessing through taxes is the message here) at gunpoint to give poor people money. Education is not charity or compassion. Neither is a home. Or nourishment. Or affordable health care. Rather, these things are what people need to live free, productive lives. Let's discuss that.

Here's another one:

Everyone is talking about budgets, endless spending, debt, and deficits. I think we need to be fiscally responsible. We need to take care of our fiscal crisis. We need to do it without talking about "class warfare". War is war. Soldiers serve and sacrifice. And people die. Let's drop the class warfare rhetoric and dig for rational solutions. There is a need to cut wastefulness. There is also a need to be responsible and reasonable. Patriotism is paying your taxes without complaining because they get us roads, clean air and water, cheap reliable energy, education, safety and security (a military), and a stable society. Patriotism is also about demanding a balanced approach with solutions, requiring sacrifice, investment, and a true look at what we can really afford (what we can afford to cut and what we can afford NOT to cut). Let's discuss that.

Real discussion is not happening.

We're all pretty much to blame. Read why: Voters Angry At Washington Gridlock May Want To Look In The Mirror

Voters are becoming entrenched in their views, so much so that they are even unwilling to listen and consider another point of view. Many (not all) politicians move toward more extreme views to get elected and many (not all) refuse to compromise--on absolutely anything--as a result. And those are the politicians who get elected.

Sadly, the politicians who sometimes would cross the political aisle are being replaced by those politicians who pander to the extreme side of either the right of the left of the political spectrum.

And now we suffer with the effects.

Part of the polarization and "do nothing" Congress has much to do with the polarization of America. If the populace wants it's government to actually do something productive for everyone then maybe they need to be more willing to be civil. This doesn't mean we have to agree on everything. Opposing viewpoints are necessary. That's democracy.

Civility means this: what must happen is a demand for more from our politicians (and ourselves)--a willingness to listen and, yes (oh my gosh), actually come to compromise and common ground.

What can't happen are continued overly simplified arguments containing glowing rhetoric without reason, those lacking contextualization, decency, and sound logic that only reduces complexities to simplistic theoretical notions which have nothing to do with the reality of the world and the people who live in it.

There. I feel better now that I got that out. I'm ready for the debate tomorrow night.

1 comment:

  1. My wife and I have talked often about the tendency for Democrats to view Republicans as idiots, and Republicans to view Democrats as evil. The thing is, we're all just people who want to fix this country but have different ideas on how to make it happen. Thanks for a reminder about civility, Todd, and I hope people can learn to cast aside their binary views of politics and start to find common ground or, at least, a way to disagree but still be nice to each other.