What do you think?

This is a huge departure from my usual posts, and it is one that I hope generates lots of comments, not because I want the traffic meter to crash into the stratosphere — I have, I assure you, an insurmountable distance to achieve that feat! — but because I want to have a discussion on this with others. To participate, you only need to feel free to speak your mind in a reasoned, rational manner without ad hominem attacks on those who disagree with you. In other words, if you call someone stupid or ignorant, or treasonous because of their beliefs; if you curse or stereotype or stick your fingers in your ears and eyes rather than consider respectfully their point of view; if you suggest that someone shouldn’t comment or has no right to his or her own opinion, just stop reading right now. Come back another time when I’m posting about a book, a new recipe, a pretty photograph, marveling about something wonderous I’ve found in the natural world or reveling in some piece of optimism or a kind act of a fellow human being. I don’t care if you’re a writer or an artist; a runner, a vegan or a mommy blogger; a city dweller or a country liver; live on the East Coast, or the West Coast or somewhere in the spaces in between the coasts; a conservative or a liberal; an atheist, a Christian, a Muslim, a Zoroastrian, a seeker or a doubter; a progressive or a libertarian or anarchist.  I only care that you choose to participate in this discussion using reasonable, rational, calm, non-inflammatory discourse. Heck, I don’t even care if you are an American, although this is an American issue. In fact, I’d also like to know what those of you who are NOT Americans think of this as well (and I hope you don’t  jump to conclusions that we Americans are all crazies!)

As some of you may have gathered from other posts, I live in Indiana. Although Indiana’s electoral votes in the 2008 Presidential election went to Obama, that was likely an anomaly. Indiana is a very conservative state. Even our Democratic Party officials are far more conservative than the national Democratic party. The Hoosier state has always been that way as long as I’ve lived here (for > 4 decades). Yesterday, in the Indiana Primary, the incumbent Senator, The Honorable Richard Lugar, was overwhelmingly defeated by a “tea party” challenger, Richard Mourdock.

Senator Lugar, in comments following his defeat, stated the following:

‎”Too often bipartisanship is equated with centrism or deal cutting. Bipartisanship is not the opposite of principle. One can be very conservative or very liberal and still have a bipartisan mindset. Such a mindset acknowledges that the other party is also patriotic and may have some good ideas. It acknowledges that national unity is important, and that aggressive partisanship deepens cynicism, sharpens political vendettas, and depletes the national reserve of good will that is critical to our survival in hard times. Certainly this was understood by President Reagan, who worked with Democrats frequently and showed flexibility that would be ridiculed today — from assenting to tax increases in the 1983 Social Security fix, to compromising on landmark tax reform legislation in 1986, to advancing arms control agreements in his second term.”

You can read Lugar’s full remarks here.

So, what do you think?  Do you agree with Lugar?  Or should the victorious majority get to set all of the rules according to their agenda, without compromise? If you agree with Lugar, what does the citizenry need to do to move our elected officials towards bipartisanship?

In my opinion, both the Democrats and the Republicans are equally guilty of being entrenched in their own positions, wishing to remain at their own extreme ends of the political spectrum, and unwilling to work together to solve problems. “Purity” tests to determine if one is a “real” D or a “real” R appear to exist in both parties — and they only seem intended to placate big-money special interest groups, not individual voters. As a taxpayer, as a citizen, I resent this, but I don’t have the answers as to what needs to happen to change course.

Ready? Set? Remember, trolling and similar nastiness will not be tolerated and such comments will be deleted without remorse.

Go; Comment! 🙂

8 responses to “What do you think?

  1. I agree with Senator Lugar. I am tempted to say that any reasonable person would.

    I attended a church that claimed to value open-mindedness and respecting individual beliefs yet apparently it was okay to belittle Southerners and conservative republicans. They justified their behavior by saying that they had a strong social conscience. I suspect that the individuals involved have personal reasons for being unhappy and rage at others to distract themselves from feeling their sadness or fear. It is similar to an addiction. Perhaps this is also true of some politicians.

  2. I’d like the media held to stricter standards of programming, and non-inflammatory programs lauded for their work. I expect advertising dollars or public support (in the case of PBS) would be the only way to regulate this, as in the recent example of the public response to Mr. Limbaugh’s comments.

    I’d like journalists and programmers to be more responsible for holding people accountable to facts, peaceful dialogue, listening, respectful consideration and openness. I’d like comments that do not stick to respectful dialogue deleted from online posts.

    I’m aware that “Civics” was emphasized in public education at one time (it seemed to be waning during my schooling, in the 1960’s) and it underscored what expectations a democracy needed to place upon its citizens. Maybe it would be a good time to bring this back and couple it with a greater, renewed emphasis on the qualities and practices of healthy dialogue and debate: listening, respectful argument, etc., and also reinforce the need to remain engaged and informed by well-rounded exploration of issues and one’s vote. (I have been canvassing, door-to-door the past two months and surprised by the number of people who said they do not vote. Ever.)

    Problem-solving skills are emphasized in education, but I’m not sure they’re always taught in conjunction with basic etiquette and the ways one can concede to an improved idea or marry one’s view with another’s to make the solution more elegant; the emphasis in our schools, from pre-school on, seems always to be about competition and defeating the “other,” rather than creating, together, mutually satisfying solutions. (I do blame the testosterone-fueled “need to win” of organized sports for some of this nastiness. While the arts are quick to be cut due to budget constraints, athletics never are. Sportsmanship seems also to be a thing of the past.)

    It would be lovely to see role models who live and practice healthy diplomacy lauded, and less coverage given to celebrity and sensational deviations from healing and fruitful discourse.

    “Feminine energy” skills like listening, collaboration, creativity, apology and forgiveness, seem to be lacking in this country; this is not a man/woman issue, but one concerning the imbalanced energy our society increasingly suffers from; we are not balanced; therefore our behaviors and their “products” (to speak in the language that functions best in our marketing-driven world) are increasingly imbalanced.

    We must examine the influence of special-interest money and desires and their provision of financial support for political candidates and those already in office, and curtail/eliminate it. It has not served us well. At all.

    I’d like the rubrics and expectations of basic etiquette, logic, dialogue and argument taught and reinforced throughout the school years and then frequently presented in our media, and a review of logic/illogic to be posted on forums. I’d like a familiarity with these “basics” required of television producers, anchors, moderators, print journalists, high school and college students—all of us—so they might be studied, reviewed and “incorporated” throughout our lives. (Actually, I wish it were required as an “exam” for any elected official to pass before s/he could take office .)

    Here’s a simple review from Mr. Gunnar’s class in Conifer, CO, that I found online. It’s excellent! http://www.mrgunnar.net/ap.cfm?subpage=348991

    Thank you for the opportunity to address this; I suppose all of us could write all day regarding these issues, but it’s helpful to share even a fragment of what we’re thinking about their effects on our society and its true “political” health. My hopes that we can return or progress to intelligent and informed civility—and I’ve always been an inveterate optimist—are dimming; the embers’ glow is fading. This helps to kindle the fire, even a bit.

  3. We live in a democracy (at least we did the last time I checked) and although I think partisanship is a bunch of crap (difficult problems should be discussed, solutions proposed, and the most reasonable solution to solve the problem voted for) the reality of today’s politics has become vote your self-interest. We all know that money buys and determines one’s self-interest (if you don’t believe me listen to any media outlet–money is telling you what your self-interest ought to be all of the time). Bottom line is, as Thomas Jefferson once said (I believe he was responsible for making a good education available to all–regardless of status, wealth, and privilege) “without a good education democracy will not survive.” Let democracy play itself out and if, in the end, money is the stake in the heart of democracy then so be it. We only have ourselves to blame.

  4. I’ll steer clear of this one. I don’t follow politics as I am one of the disenfranchised citizens who has lost ALL faith in the ability of politicians to achieve anything beneficial for society. Sorry.

  5. Oh my. I will pull out the Outsider Card here, since I am not a natural born American and I am such a new American at that.

    I think that adhering so strictly to party lines, all the time, is not healthy for the country as a whole. Above the party ideals should be the good of the country which sometimes does not call for a strictly Republican or strictly Democratic stand. However, the time when party lines should be crossed should also be judged on a case by case basis. Just as I think that certain issues need to be threshed out by BOTH parties, there are issues where one party should just stick to its ideals.

    Well, I come from a country where political parties are indistinguishable from each other. members of a party can ‘freely’ join or leave a party as required by his interests. Principles and platforms are reduced to mere sloganeering. Most of the times, I am horrified by that system but grudgingly admire the freedom it allows a politician (especially of he has the money) to move or argue. I also like the fact that anyone can ideally run for office even when he has no major political backing.

    I am saying this because, after closely observing the political exercise in this country for years, I often think that the two party system is detrimental to this country since: (1) It limits the freedom of people to run for office and their choices of leaders and political platforms; (2) collusion between the two parties to bully any political start-up is highly probable.

  6. Oh, this is a touchy subject. Although I’ve always exercised my right to vote, I’ve never been one to get involved in politics…until recently. I am a conservative! I’m very disappointed with what’s happening to our government (both parties). I believe it’s too big and too corrupt. I try not to discuss it too much because it just frustrates me to no end. All I can say is that we need change, or we’ll become another country in the brink of financial & moral collapse. Just my humble opinion.

    • Thank you, Jeannie for commenting. I’ve tried to stay away too, and certainly haven’t done anything political on my blog this election season (at least, not that I can recall!). I was posting lots of stuff on Facebook, some of it, I admit was vitriolic. But when two of my friends — two of my MOST conservative friends — started arguing with each other and calling each other spiteful names, I was just tied in knots. I’ve limited what I’ve said, and when I have, have insisted on gracious, reasonable, respectful discourse. And I’ve ticked off friends by doing that!

      Yet, I think that things have become so belligerent recently that I think we need to do something and I don’t want to remain quiet or disengaged. But, I don’t want shouting matches. I don’t want gimmicky labels, and I don’t want horrible attack ads from ANYBODY. We spent January in Florida and were inundated with negativity for 3 weeks before the election. It was horrible and you usually didn’t know who/what an ad was for — only what it was opposing. I remarked as we left that at least we wouldn’t have that by the time Indiana’s May primary rolled around. Little did I know that it would be even worse. There were no winners in this and I think it is the public who is hurt most of all. I agree with what Lugar said, but I have been deeply disappointed in him for several months now that he has not stepped up to call out several of the people who have been engaging in name calling and digging in their heels when it is good for “the party”, not good for the country and its citizens.