Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Political Hangover

I've been doing a lot of thinking about the mid-term elections as I try to get the taste of the political hangover washed out of my mouth. It's been a brutal season, with campaign spending at an all-time high, and campaign messages at an all-time low, but I came to a couple of conclusions.

First, the bulk of the country doesn't really want to think about real issues. That's the only explanation I can find for voting for politicians who deliver messages so internally schizophrenic that they're barely coherent. Make no mistake: promised obstructionism is not a policy that moves anything forward.

Second, the American people should be outraged and shamed that they have willingly surrendered the political conversation not to any one party, but to the news media. The media, whether you think they're liberal or conservative, are interested in a story, not in issues. The more conflict in the story, the better the story. That is a different goal from the way the branches of government are supposed to work. "Checks and balances" does not imply shoving a spanner into anything just to keep it from moving forward; that's a conflict that brings a great story, but no progress. If you don't believe the media is shaping things, ask yourself why Christine O'Donnell got so much airtime. It's not because she had any real qualifications, nor because she had any chance of even coming close in the election, it was because she made a good story. Kind of like a freak show.

Third and finally, the Republicans and their Tea Party subset make a lot of noise about being "real people." They may want me to be a figment of their imagination, but I'd simply ask, what is it about me that's unreal? I have a nuclear family, my wife and I both work full-time jobs to make ends almost meet, we attend a church of our choice, and are active in our community. One of the great things about living in America is that I can disagree with you and still be entitled to the liberties that come with citizenship. You can't dismiss me because you wish I wasn't real, because this is America, and my vote counts and my voice has every right to be heard.

I could go on in this vein, but perhaps I should simply point out that with the switch of power in the House, now the Republicans get their chance to rework the country in a way that will meet the unrealistic expectations of a very impatient electorate. The ball's in your court. You wanted it, so here it is. The clock is ticking.