Friday, September 08, 2006

Are Our Politicians/Leaders Stuck in a Rut?

Heeding Conservobabe’s comment to BDJ’s recent posts regarding the war, I’ve struggled to come up with anything interesting to write about. If it hasn’t been painfully obvious by now, that’s generally my criteria for posting; what is interesting to me. Thankfully, much of the time, though not always, what meets my criteria is also interesting to not only some of our readers, but also my co-bloggers as well. My recent silence, albeit also caused by a busy spell at work, is also due to my own general apathy about the state of our political landscape. As to the root causes of this apathetic feeling, well just take a gander around, read the blogs, the news/current events magazines, and the newspapers, it’s all the same all the time (note, I’ve purposefully left cable news off my list as that drivel has gotten so bad in recent months I don’t even attempt to watch it), elections, war, elections, terrorism, war, elections, elections, war, elections.

I know, I know, these things are important, but that doesn’t make them interesting. In fact, for the most part, in my opinion, they are downright boring. We all have entrenched positions about the war, good, bad, or in my case indifferent, which are not going to change. Unless you live in one of the states with an actual “contested election,” i.e., Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Montana, New York (interesting congressional races, especially upstate), Tennessee, or Virginia (if you believe the more recent polls, which I don’t) then you probably could care less about that as well. Besides, it’s not really like any of the candidates say anything anyway. I can’t tell you what kind of election crap I see/receive here in Maryland where there is both an open senate seat for the first time in decades, and a gubernatorial race that is important. I mean, come on, if I hear one more TV ad or see one more flyer about health care and/or No Child Left Behind; I’m going to throw-up. Freshman Senators alone can’t balance the budget, can’t end the war, can’t fully fund education, and can’t fix Medicare, who are we kidding here. They are at best on more vote in a caucus, and maybe they get some appropriations tossed there way as a thanks for winning gesture, but lets tell the truth for once, just once, a Freshman Senator has about as much power and influence over national policy as, well, as a bump on a log. Moreover, governors are equally as impotent on many of the so-called “campaign issues,” especially in a state like Maryland that is so totally controlled by Democrats that it is no wonder the state legislature didn’t override every single solitary one of Governor Bob Erlich’s vetoes just because they could. Even better they could have immediately repealed any law he actually signed, just to be truly obstanate. Now that would have at least been interesting.

I guess my point is that we’re stuck in a rut. Election year politics bring out the absolute worst of everyone, most of all the pundits, who seem to find a never ending way of saying the same things over and over again. Are we as a country really totally bereft of any new ideas? Have we really achieved as close to nirvana as we can get, save for some minor tinkering around the edges? Let’s be honest, tinkering around the edges is really all we’ve been doing for years. Medicare reform, welfare reform, education reform, banking reform, you name it, they are all nice sounding names for things that really are no more than a tweak here and/or a minor pull there. We haven’t seen a really earth shattering, ground breaking proposal about anything for quite some time now. It’s the politics of the median voter theory, the politics of the I don’t want to offend too many people who contribute money to my campaign school, and the politics of the scared to loose my safe cushy job way of thinking. Sure, at times it can be intriguing to watch the squishy middle of the road folks like Snow, Collins, Chaffee, and Specter squirm under pressure, but even with those examples one has to admit that as frustrating as they may be to the true conservative believers, they represent their constituencies, which are mostly to the barely left of center, fairly accurately.

Once, just once, over the next month or so, I’d like to hear someone say something really radical, really controversial, in the policy sense of course (we get plenty of the socially controversial stuff thanks to guys like Burns and Allen, that’s boring too, really boring, not to mention stupid, which in my book is a double whammy). At this point, I don’t really care if it’s a liberal or a conservative who says it, just please somebody say something worth talking about. Take a stand, be strong, come up with an idea and actually mean it, rather just simply trudge out the same old platitudes that have been sterilized, scrubbed, and focus-grouped to death. I’d so rather see someone try something new and loose bad than have to continue to hold my nose and vote for the candidate whose old, bad ideas are least offensive to me.

Both sides have thousands of old, bad ideas, why can’t one of them come up with a new idea, even if it’s bad? Doesn’t seem so hard does it? Maybe it is. Maybe we’re really at the point where there are no major changes worth taking. Maybe as a county we’ve done as well as can be done, the only things left are to make the edges smoother and ride out the brief hiccups along the way. I sure don’t believe that we’ve gotten anywhere close to this point, but our politicians sure seem to. I wonder where I can get some of what they’re drinking and smoking, because that would sure make my days more interesting.


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