Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Boiled Down

The current political debate (if you can really call it that) in this country has stagnated to the point that nothing is really being discussed.

On the one hand you have the Republicans who, because of Karl Rove, have both a great strength and a great weakness in their present style of distilling everything into a literal "Good/Bad" terminology. For example, Taxes BAD! Small Government GOOD! Abortion BAD! Iraq War GOOD! Gays BAD! Well, you get the idea. It's a strong technique because it simplifies the discussion for those folks out there who really don't want to think much about anything. It's also a great weakness because it has reduced the discussion to the lowest level, a level that doesn't allow any real expansion of thought or maturity in dealing with the very real problems this society faces.

Do I like paying taxes? No more than then next guy. But taxes pay for the military, for the infrastructure (roads, sewage systems, etc.) and services that we've all come to depend upon. Get rid of all taxes and yes, we'll all be the richer for it for a short time, then we'll be complaining about having to pay a patchwork of private companies to do all the things that local, State and Federal governments do now (of course, maybe that's the real goal--privatize EVERYTHING!). Abortion also isn't my preferred way of keeping down the population and preventing unwanted pregnancies, but to simply say that no woman should ever have the right to abort a pregnancy for any reason is unrealistic and will simply create the same back-alley trade that existed before Roe v. Wade. The Iraq War did get rid of a brutal dictator, but it also created a power vacuum in Iraq that has allowed the growth of sectarian violence that will probably lead to a civil war, the way things are going lately. And NO, giving gays some rights in society to common ownership of property, among other things, will not cause the traditional family structure to fall apart.

But our Big Elephant friends will usually call anyone saying anything different either a LIBERAL or will say someone dissenting from the party line a "coward" or a "traitor". Our country was built on vigorous and lively debate, both verbal and in print, and any attempt to stifle that kind of discussion is both foolish and short-sighted. Rove and his disciples (and believe me, even in local elections, his style is being used by Republican candidates) have only succeeded in keeping Republicans, particularly the moderates, from presenting common-sense approaches to problems that might be acceptable to all sides.

But again, has my party, the Democrats, got anything better to present? Not lately, given the level of rhetoric. As most commentators point out, who knows exactly what the Democrats stand for? It's simple; they don't, because they are really two or three parties disguised as one that no longer has a single direction. You've got the traditional Northern Liberals with their positions, the Southern Conservatives with their positions and then the slightly muddle-headed Moderates like me who'd love to have a seperate party to run to if there was a chance in hell that someone with any national reputation would lead it. Nope, until the Dems either kiss and make up and let new leadership move the Party in one direction or split up and let the various factions go their own way, nothing much will happen.

Somehow, someway, the debate has got to move from the Republican side of the board.

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