Wednesday, June 16, 2010

On Being American

When I am in a decent frame of mind, I am amused by the political rhetoric in this country. But other times, I am saddened, or appalled.

I just saw Newt Gingrich's new book, "To Save America: Stopping Obama's Secular-Socialist Machine."

I don't want to just pick on Republicans, because Democrats are just as bad. In fact, some of the reviews on Amazon, presumably posted by Democrats, helpfully point out that they consider Newt to be "pure evil."

Both sides, apparently, are convinced that they represent the "true, mainstream" America, and that the other side represents "the values of Nazi Germany."

Both sides, apparently, are convinced that it is helpful to their causes to call the other side stupid and evil.

Both sides, apparently, believe that apocolyptic fear is an effective persuasive device.

And both sides spend their years in office trying to "undo the damage" caused by the other side. Before they overreach and lose. And this cycling between rhetorical extremes happens over and over again.

Only when we stop rewarding this behavior will it stop. Only when we ask for informed, well-reasoned debate (and incremental progress) will we get it. And only when we are willing to spend time thinking about the issues rather than the sound bites, and to vote based on our own reasoned views rather than what we are told, will we get the democracy that our founding fathers envisioned, rather than the one we apparently deserve.


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