America Isn't Easy
As a writer who composes poetry, short stories and human interest articles, I normally give national politics a wide berth. Quite simply, political dissertations are not my thing, and other hubbers are far more adept at writing about this subject than I. Nevertheless, after observing events that have troubled me for some time, I am compelled to take pen in hand for a few minutes to express why it is time for many Americans to wake up and smell the proverbial coffee.
Civility in political discourse has always been a bit shaky at times. Nevertheless, I have never witnessed the bitter divisiveness that not only grips America’s halls of governance, but has polarized a portion of our citizens as well.
One need only make a solitary comment in passing to run the risk of being labeled by some as a “dirty lib,” “cold-blooded repubgnant,” or other such nonsense. It is not unusual for certain people to repeat political buzz words like squabbling parrots, nor for media talking heads to deliberately aim rude and snarking comments at others. Labels are also used as crude and judgmental index-cards -- as if this diminutive expediency could possibly qualify who we are and what we think as individuals. Is this the new social norm? I wonder if this has in any way influenced the manner in which some of the youth in our schools systems bullies and belittles others.
Equally disconcerting is the fact that objective reasoning, systematic research, and critical thinking skills seem to be giving way to the fast food approach of being spoon fed everything we need to know and how to think by the hyper-connectivity of the internet and social media. Television news is regularly compressed into 60-second bites of information, as if viewers had the attention span and IQ levels of a gnat. Drama-laden media sound bites are interpreted as knowledge. Reporting political scandals is often more significant than reporting facts.
Campaigning for power and the corporate/financial services lobbyists rather than helping this country appears to be the current philosophy of Congress. Intelligent and effective compromise has become tantamount to conspiracy and defection. This has made the politics of today tragically incompatible with strong, effective leadership. Such leadership is paramount if this nation is to deal with the skyrocketing deficit, and continue to develop the industries, technologies, environmental ethics and higher education standards it needs in order to compete and to survive. Not next month or next year – now.
America isn’t easy. Neither are the solutions to the overwhelming challenges we now face. As a nation, we lived beyond our means for years. Fate has inevitably handed us the check. As an Independent, I will not insult the intelligence and integrity of readers by falsely asserting we are the only group of voters that believes in strong fiscal responsibility, as well as intelligent responsiveness to those in need. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are all aware that we cannot blindly throw money at a situation and then walk away, hoping for the best. Nor can we just walk away. Both scenarios are synonymous with ignorance and indifference.
Amidst all of the posturing of “us versus them,” one thing remains certain: Politicians will rise to the level of voter expectations. Unfortunately, hollow political slogans and empty promises have become mantras of quick fixes that are non-existent. Too often, self-serving opinions and convenience thinking usurp facts. It is no longer a matter of which politician lies or is uninformed; for most, it is simply a question as to what degree. Political debates, presentations, interviews and speeches need crews of fact checkers working feverishly behind the scenes to identify and correct false and/or questionable claims.
We can no longer gauge a candidate’s or incumbent’s understanding of an issue and the intricacies involved until we first educate ourselves. This is not easy an easy task…it requires work, discipline and commitment. “Tell them what they want to hear,” is no longer acceptable. Voters need facts, details, and assurances of knowledgeable and strategic planning. We are paying their government salaries and benefits -- or are about to -- at both federal and local levels, and deserve the same respect and confidence we afford them.
Lawful protests and demonstrations are as American as apple pie, and are among the freedoms we treasure. It is our duty to speak out and to demand the truth. Nevertheless, we should not intentionally disrupt political dialogue at formal debates or meetings by continually yelling and pounding the air with our fists as if we were delinquent adolescents. We need to consider both sides of an argument or debate carefully and objectively as adults, and require those involved in the discussion to do the same. We should also hold the media to a higher level of standards that require more thorough and accurate reporting with less bias.
In the final analysis, the American dream defines far more than what one seeks in terms of opportunities or material possessions. It defines who we are. Although certain individuals may not educate themselves on the issues because they feel their vote won’t make any difference, each voice matters. Each citizen needs to become more informed and engaged to help make this nation healthy and whole.
I, for one, do not believe that our best days are behind us. As a nation and leader of the global community, we have extraordinary possibilities. We have only to give ourselves a chance.
© 2011 Genna East All Rights Reserved