Sunday, November 14, 2010

Okay, So Why The Hangover?

I have had, like many people I encounter on a daily basis, a growing mistrust of the political party system in the United States. Indeed, I have come to question the entire process by which individuals are selected and thrust to the forefront as candidate for elected office, as well as the means by which they are frequently discredited & driven from their candidacies.

What made me want to speak out, in the form of a blog, is a disturbing, and growing disassociation between political discourse and the truth. The previous election cycle brought numerous flyers to my mailbox – from both sides, I might add – disseminating distorted, out-of-context, or patently falsified statements about opposing candidates.  The past few election cycles have brought about the rise of ‘fact-check’ websites, devoted to debunking the many factual distortions of our elected officials. More disturbingly, to me at least, have been numerous encounters with friends, co-workers & acquaintances who bemoan the lies of an opposing partisan while resolutely repeating – and with unwavering conviction - the distortions of those they support.

Never before in the history of man, has a society possessed so many tools for collaboration. Never before have we had unfettered access to such a breadth of ideas, information and knowledge, and yet it is difficult to find a time in our nation’s history when it has been more deeply-divided, more poorly-engaged, and more misinformed. Rather than being a people, united in the purpose of advancing the interests of our nation and solving the problems we face, we have been divided into camps, unable even to agree on what the problems are, much less upon the methods by which to solve them. We look to Washington, to resolve the problems & issues which divide us, but they are as much the cause of our divisions as a potential solution.

Given that ours – and truth be told, everybody else’s; even the most brutal despotism is an acquiescence of the many to the few – is a government by the people, for the people and of the people, it is incumbent upon us to inform ourselves, to discuss what we have learned, and to think. We need to send men and women forth to our halls of government & justice to execute our wishes, with regard to their statements and beliefs, and not their party affiliations. Our news outlets need to reclaim their duty of providing information to the people, rather than being the ultimate multi-billion-dollar financial beneficiaries of a political system which has become more tailored towards intrigue than leadership. We cannot look to Washington to fix our political system; they have to fundamentally be participants of that system in order to become a member of it.

 I cannot count the number of times I have heard otherwise-intelligent individuals bemoan the fact that they disagree with both candidates in an election, and express their intention to vote for ‘the lesser of two evils.’ In a time of unprecedented access to one another, in an age of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter (to say nothing of Blogger), to eschew our constitutionally-granted right to cast our vote for someone we would actually want to send to Washington is simply a sign that we have given up the search. Is it really not possible, in a nation of nearly 300 Million people, to find a handful of cogent, intelligent, principled individuals to entrust with our nation’s leadership? Claims such as, ‘voting for a third-party or unaffiliated candidate only helps the ‘other side’ win’ is simply a case of the tail attempting to wag the dog.

This blog is my personal attempt to follow my own advice to inform myself, to discuss what I’ve learned, and to think. To that end, I invite commentary from any of my visitors; this is a site to gather ideas, not simply for me to pontificate. I wish, above all in this blog, to discuss ideas not as a Democrat, nor as a Republican nor Libertarian, but as an American. The only agenda or platform I value is one of leaving my son a citizen of a stronger, more secure, more prosperous and more influential nation than the one he was born into. Within that framework, there is a lot of grist for postings, debate (and disagreements), which is why I decided to turn this into a blog. Again, leave your donkey or your elephant at the door, and feel welcomed here as an American. I look forward to sharing my thoughts, hearing yours, and the discussion that ensues. ♦

Kenneth L. Head