And now a word from our cynics…
I’m finding that I have absolutely zero faith in the current crop of politicians to actually govern. Instead, they’re all just hell-bent on proving the other side wrong and defeating them in the media and in the coming election.
Liberals–mostly Democrats–go out of their way to prove to their constituency that they’re still liberal and holding to those ideals. And conservatives–mostly Republicans–go out of their way to do the same for their base. It serves no purpose than to posture and prove that they’ve lived up to the promises they campaigned on, regardless of how incomprehensible, stupid, inane, or impossible those positions may be.
The thing is that both sides have stopped dealing in real-world solutions or governance. It’s all about image these days, even if that image includes the “talking points” you make, or who you choose to have a photo op with.
Let’s take, as a case study, yesterday’s blockbuster pizza dinner between Donald Trump and Sarah Palin. In case you haven’t seen pictures, you can look here. But let’s consider this for a moment…Why would a billionaire real estate mogul and reality TV star meet with a former Alaska governor and Fox News commentator over pizza (of all things) in a restaurant in Times Square (of all places)?
Or…To rephrase: Why would a high-profile, much-listened-to potential presidential candidate and favorite of the Tea Party meet with a high-profile, much-listened-to potential presidential candidate and favorite of the Tea Party?
Now we’re getting somewhere. That question practically answers itself. Then there’s the follow up: why a pizza place in Times Square? That one also answers itself: glass windows, and one of the most popular tourist stops in New York…Hence the picture and news coverage. Someone announced the meeting and so the journos had to be there to cover it because even though they’ve either not declared, or declared that they’re not running, it’s an image thing. Probably to see how the two of them rated together in the polls.
It seems so easy now to run a campaign and to run a political party: all you have to do is show as much negativity as possible toward the opponent or opposing side. Don’t like Obama? That’s easy to run against: pick a few key issues that you can get people behind and just argue you’re against it. If people ask why, tell them it’s un-American or will cost jobs or tax dollars or grow government. Don’t like the Republican majority? All you have to do is show that they’re trying to cut government and place the costs of balancing the budget on the backs of the middle class. Show that they don’t want everyone to have health care.
See? Simple. But completely wrong and irresponsible by both sides. It seems on every level of government now in this country we have both sides standing opposite each other with their heels firmly dug in. Neither side is willing to make a move toward compromise, regardless of how much they claim to be willing or already compromising on some of their principles. And almost in the same breath, they tell the media just how much the opposing side refuses to work with them.
In the state, this means that so far, the most notable accomplishments to come out of the legislative session are a bill allowing breweries to sell beer on site, and for an amendment to be put to voters next year to declare marriage as a union between a man and a woman (more on that one tomorrow). No budget agreement. No bill attempting to create jobs, or anything that either side promised when they campaigned. And what’s worse is that there have been even fewer accomplishments on the national level.
What’s maddening is that all of this has been scripted from the national party leadership on down: stick to the message and stick to the platform points. Don’t waver. Don’t go outside of the box, lest we cut you off from future support. The end result is that an odd collection of people have emerged as the voices of reason: Arne Carlson; Mark Dayton, who has managed to go off script a bit and sound surprisingly confident while doing it; and a freshman state legislator named John Kriesel, who broke from the Republican line on a few occasions to ask why his party is getting derailed from its promises by pushing through the gay marriage amendment, and won’t even consider other options for the budget.
I’ve said it before: it used to be that the center was a political safe-haven. And I still think that’s where people want their politicians to be. But whoever’s pulling the strings for both parties won’t let that happen: apparently there can no longer be any agreement on any issue in the platforms for the parties, and there will never be compromise. The current crop of Republicans make Ronald Reagan look like a socialist; and there are times that Obama makes Jimmy Carter look like a libertarian. It’s terrifying.
Here’s the thing: the country and states are screwed right now. And the firm, decisive leadership that I think everyone wanted has crumbled into chaos. Get it together, guys. Do something. Make some moves. Prove to all of us that you actually have governance on your mind and not the 2012 election.
See you tomorrow.