Why Can’t We Talk about Politics?

With the election newly over, passions are still running high. But, as one of the pundits pointed out last night, after all the hard campaigning, we are still pretty much where we started: with Washington gridlock. Some people blame the President and Democrats for the gridlock, some the Republicans. Some just want to sweep both current sides out of office and start over.

The fact of the matter is, we as a people are losing the ability to truly talk about the issues facing our country. Presidential debates have become nothing more than a series of pre-packaged messages bits and sarcastic jabs at the opponent. The media as a whole tends to give the megaphone to whoever has the most extreme views of each party, ignoring the vast majority of people in the middle. “Discourse” in America has become an exchange of negative ads, half-truths, and sound bites.

This has got to stop.

America faces huge issues—energy, immigration, and the debt, just to name a few. By the narrow margin in the popular vote, it is clear our nation is split down the middle. The problems America faces cannot be solved by one party ramming an agenda down the other’s throat, only to have it repealed when the opposing party comes to power. To enact real and lasting solutions, our politicians have to work together—and they are not.

We the people need to demand more. We need to demand that our politicians put the country first and their own re-election second. We need to demand that our media dig deep into the issues, giving us reliable facts, not spin and sound-bites. We need to demand that debates become a forum for true discussion, not “issue speed-dating” where you touch on these complicated issues for two minutes and then move on.

We the people can do this by setting the example. By learning to talk to each other without letting passions overcome our ability to listen to the other side. This year, a child went Trick Or Treating with his friend. They went together as Obama and Romney. There were actually people who refused to give the Obama child candy because of politics.

Is this who we want to be as a country?

Of course not. The majority of us, in both parties, are rational, intelligent people who simply want common-sense solutions. We understand that there may have to be some compromise to find a way forward, and that the compromise solution will likely only be a first step, not a final fix. We want to see all people treated equally, to see all children have an equal shot at attaining their dreams, to see America strong again.

We all want the same things. We disagree on how to get there. The popular vote numbers show this. But rather than despair that the roughly 50-50 split means more gridlock, we should accept it as a challenge to learn to communicate with one another. Our learning to talk across the divide and find common ground is not a luxury—it is an imperative. We must do this, or we will destroy our country from within. United we stand; divided we fall. This is more true now than ever.

The election may be over, but our role in our country’s future didn’t end when we cast our ballot. Going forward, we still have a voice. Use it to speak to your representatives. Use it to speak to the next generation. Use it to speak to your neighbor.

Just remember to listen, too.


UPDATE: Visit Don Lafferty’s blog to find out how YOU can get your voice heard and protest the gridlock in Washington. http://donaldlafferty.com/the-election-is-over-but-were-not-finished-end-government-gridlock/

Comments

  1. Caro Pastorius says:

    Great stuff as ever, Kerry… I shared it on FB A. Carolee

  2. Good stuff, Kerry. I’ve always had strong political opinions, although neither the Democratic nor Republican parties accurately reflect the way I feel across the board.

    Consequently, I’ve always felt like I had to compromise just to vote for somebody, and that I can empathize and disagree with the opinions of people on both sides of the aisle.

    There is often no perfect resolution to finding a middle ground when it comes to politics, but there must be a safe environment to share opinions, and people must maintain an open mind and be open to changing their mind, even if the change is a minor adjustment and not a flip-flop. The minute you think you know it all, you’re part of the problem.

    To quote a famous poet, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need.”

    • I’m right there with you, Don! I’m never in lock-step with either party, either. Discussion and decisions based on evidence rather than blind faith are vital to the continued success of our country.

      And that’s a great song, too.

  3. Hey Kerry –
    Nice post. The two-party system creates a catch-22 scenario. A non-partisan voter essentially throws away a vote if they cast their ballot for a third-party candidate, thus strengthening the position of the major party candidate they would prefer NOT to see in office. So then they are faced with a difficult choice: vote their ideology, or vote for what they see is the lesser of two evils. Maybe I’m wrong, but I figure given this choice most non-partisans would pick the lesser of their two evils. But this just further entrenches the two-party system.

    I agree that we as a people need to compromise on more issues. But when you have politicians who believe that raped women can’t get pregnant or who ignore economic realities and increase the debt by 50%, I don’t know how we’ll get there. Maybe the only way is what you suggest: open up the dialog more and engage in more robust debates more often. Make the politicians more accountable. The president can only serve two terms, why not impose that limit on other elected officials so they focus more on the job at hand rather than reelection?

    • I am all for term limits for all. New blood more often, and I think less likely to become allies with the special interests, because the special interests don’t have as many years to “woo” them. I am also in favor of limiting the campaign season to no more than a month before the election. Let them work rather than focus on campaigning. And keep us poor voters from being hammered with political ads for what feels like forever.

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