Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I Voted

No Hanging Chads Permitted in 2010.
Apparently these are important elections in 2010 and in Pennsylvania. Above and beyond the usual, local noise and funk, we had our choice of new Governor replacing Ed Rendell and new Senator replacing the flip-flopped then forfeited seat of Arlen Spector. Rendell out on term limits, the Spector vacancy is sign of changed times.

I had a long chat with my old man last night, who lived through the optimism of the 1950s and came of age in the disillusioning 1960s and has thus seen all kinds of political turmoil. He said he hadn't seen politics as vitriolic as the current Tea Party campaigning by loud, fringe elements of the Republican Party.

The most astonishing thing from his perspective is how the only thing this group of charlatans seems to stand for is opposition to Barack Obama and that this seems like thinly veiled racism. Beyond that, where is the semblance of a plan for making things better? Is there a platform? Any policy?

This kind of campaigning is made to appeal to one selfish sentiment: keeping money in your pocket; and to one end: getting the candidate elected. But the hidden danger is in only knowing what someone is against, you have no understanding of what they are for. Why put that level of dubious intent in Congress?

It's not a popular platform, but we need something to the effect of old British austerity measures to get the country back on track, that is spending less and raising taxes. Ouch. But it's got to hurt if it's going to heal.

The problem is nobody seems ready to take the high road. I'm not seeing a lot of strength in the Democratic corner either. Lots of the moderate Democratic campaigning seems to be about distancing one's self from the dirty-word liberal Obama administration stimulus and healthcare bills, even though the former had to be done and nobody understands yet the provisions or effects of the healthcare legislation. It's too early to put a stamp on these initiatives, but at least they are action. I'd rather err on the side of doing something, than railing against everything.

But it's disappointing all the same that the Democrats have let the Tea Party movement set the terms of the debate. As one sign of how sad this is, consider the story of my sister-in-law, who's living on a conservative island in one of the Main Line's most liberal neighborhoods, Bala Cynwyd.

It's her Constitutional right to display yard signs for the Republican candidates she supports. But this year she's engaged in a saboteur's war with some anonymous liberal in her neighborhood who keeps stealing her Pat Toomey and Tom Corbett signs. Each day she replaces them, and after the 2nd or 3rd theft, added a little direct communication of her own, an additional, hand-made sign baring a threat to donate additional dollars each time a sign is stolen to the Republican cause in the name of the Democratic thief. It's low-blow politics right down to the Grassroots level.

Which still leaves me wondering, if people obviously care so much, why are they so focused on the wrong things? That's not to say that  D or R are the wrong things, because I don't think anyone's getting it right. But rather a plea that we start demanding a higher calling out of our elected officials and supporting those who bring solutions rather than criticism, open-minded cooperation rather than partisan group think.

This will likely be my only political screed of the year, but I hope it makes people think, vote and start paying a little more attention.

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