Tomorrow (probably today by the time you read this) the primaries will happen in New Hampshire. If you don't know what I'm talking about, well, feel embarrassed. I've got the Presidential Election on my mind tonight, and since all the commentators have already told me that Obama and McCain will win easily, I thought I'd blog.
I'm reading a book by Ronald Brownstein called "The Second Civil War: How Extreme Partisanship Has Paralyzed Washington and Polarized America." I haven't finished the whole thing, but the premise is obvious enough from the title. And it's hard to argue with. Over time, beginning in the 80s probably, people and circumstances have pushed our political system into two, very combative, corners. You're either red or blue, and there's not much in between. I have respect for our current president, but he's made those matters worse. I have a deep fear that the "paralysis" has made most Americans utterly apathetic about government's ability to make things better. I feel that way sometimes, and there's plenty of evidence to support it.
Somewhere though, I think that regardless of the party we say we belong to, there's a longing for our government to truly lead and do things to make our country and our world better. That doesn't mean that the end-game is simply beating the guy on the other side of the issue. I'm not even talking about issues. One thing history has taught us is that we have no idea what the next President will face. I remember electing GW 8 years ago - who would've thought we'd be where we are now? What's important is that we pick a leader with vision, intelligence, and a connection to the people who elected him/her. I don't care that much about their stance on certain divisive issues (abortion, gun control, tax laws, gay marriage . . . etc.) Too much of the electorate is stupidly focused on those. I want someone who isn't a career politician. And also someone who shares most of my values, but it sure doesn't have to be ALL of them. I don't care about something they said years ago or that got misrepresented by a media trying tirelessly to create stories.
I am disappointed that so many of the people who vote in my country are focused on the wrong things, or at least that's what the media and polls are telling me. For instance, I learned last week that people in Iowa and all around the country won't vote for someone who goes to the same Christian church that I do. I still don't know how to reconcile the feelings of bewilderment, anger, and even a bit of fear from knowing that. Mitt Romney would be the nominee if he went to a different Christian church. But if he's not the next President so be it. Whomever it is will be elected because people want CHANGE - that's the word that keeps dropping out of their mouths every few seconds. Anybody who says they don't want change is lying. That's what elections are kind of about. But I think more than being frustrated with stuff the government is doing, we're beside ourselves about the things government isn't doing. Here's some stuff I dream the next President and Congress would tackle:
- 47 million uninsured Americans with health care costs rising much faster than income
- One in four kids live in poverty in the wealthiest country the world's ever seen
- Our education system becomes more backwards and antiquated every day
- Why can't we just agree to do whatever it takes to be energy independent within 10 years? (the only people against this have PURELY SELFISH motives)
- Quit spending so much of my money on stuff we don't need!! I don't mind paying taxes, and I'm not asking for a break, but please think harder about what you're doing with my money.
- Also, don't spend money you don't have. If you need more, ask us for it and tell us why!
Oh, I could go on and on. I'm blabbering at this point. All I'm saying is that I hope so much that whomever we all pick as President won't be the President of only half of us. That's part of the reason I'm hoping that more folks pay attention to what's going on in the primaries. Unfortunately, the folks at the far ends of the political spectrum, who can't agree on anything, are the ones pushing the agendas and making the noise. I'm looking for a guy/gal who will see through that and pull people together. I think Mitt's that person. Whomever it is will have to deal with . . . well, we don't know. But I hope that whatever he has to deal with, he brings as many of us as he can with him, because I still believe that we can work together to get past our selfishness and do things for the greater good rather than to score political points. I'm just waiting for someone to ask . . .