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Commentary :: Politics
14 Mar 2012
It's popular now to decry the status quo. People from almost every perspective, myself included, have something to say about the recipe for change. There are those wanting to cook up change on the right side of the political spectrum and those desiring the same on the left. One thing almost all of us can agree on is changes within our political system need to happen, and more than just a dash as the direction we're heading in now and have been for some years, is not sustainable.
I don't believe the status quo is bad inherently. There are times things are okay and served up just right for that particular moment. This is true be it moments in politics, work, personal life or otherwise, and obsessively seeing the awful and looking for the opposite of whatever's in front of oneself at any given time can be a recipe for disaster. How we look at where we are often depends on our particular moment and place in history's timeline.

Right now things could be better regarding politics in our country though that might be sugar coating it. The polls all show it; we've had our fill of the current system of government - at least the way Washington is currently functioning. The root causes of that feeling can be attributed to many things not the least of which include the people we elect and the parties they are members of.

With only two parties, when we feel burnt and we're looking for people to blame it gets easy. In our country it's just Democrats and/ or Republicans, and right now they are both equally guilty of so much salt afforded by our current predicament.

As voters we too share some of that blame. For decades we have been complaining and saying both political parties were both spoiled, paid for and self centered. We knew that as big as they are, as powerful as they are and as deep as the pockets that allow them to churn out pricey attack ads are, there was no way they were going to turn around and simply change because folks are sitting at the neighborhood bar after work complaining about how bad they are - even when things were great. No chance of forcing them to eat their veggies that way. We started to realize we were going to have to stir the pot if we wanted to make them see our way.

So we showed our anger by ordering up a plateful of throw the bums out. For us that meant a yo-yo diet where the pendulum swung from one side to the other. We threw out one set of the bums in 2008 and then we threw another set of bums in 2010. How have things been as a result? Has our hunger for change been satiated?

How much meaty landmark legislation has been passed? How many hit the right spot game changing bills made it through? How much sermon inspiring works of Congressional genius crafted through love infused negotiation came our way? Were there fresh morsels of change or hope to be sampled from either side? Did we even get spurned feeling anger inspired action that ended up being channeled into something like perfectly roasted pieces of political craftsmanship for America's public (you know, the people that pay their salaries not the ones promising them jobs upon retirement)?

In some ways when we voted for change by either voting mostly Democrats or mostly Republicans into office, we got burned. Commercials and pundits all told us this year this party or that would be the ones to cater to us by addressing our anger, frustration and hopes for a better America in the years to come. Remember those guys we've been complaining about - the ones we were talking about at the bar, on the phone, at the coffee shop, at the neighborhood barbeque, online, etc? Well we ordered another steaming helping of them by voting them into office - again.

That's right, Democrats and Republicans. Can we really expect change from the business we've been getting from Democrats and Republicans if in order to change things from the business we've been getting from Democrats and Republicans we just re-elect Democrats and Republicans?

They will feel as if they've played us like turkeys on Thanksgiving having gotten away with the same dry stuff and that they don't have to worry because we have no choice but accept their dry offerings. If we get too steamed they can just order up a grass roots movement or usurp one by taking over its leadership to say "we agree with them and buy their message." As the message becomes more malleable and begins to bend their way, they can shape the message and declare, "That's us, that's who we are. No matter who we were just two months ago discard it. Whatever those guys have been cooking on the grill that's what we'll give you." But, what happens after Election Day? Can we place bets as to what will happen? Yeah right all that grassroots stuff gets plowed under.

Or heck, they can co-opt a grassroots movement and have the movement turn nasty and get them to overdo it a little or just make sure the picture gets framed that way in the media. They can say, "there you go someone channeled your anger and resentments and frustrations and look how it turned out. Is that scary stuff really representative of your interests?" It's as if our choices are go with the crumbs they wipe our way or the chefs in the kitchen will turn into out of control fools throwing bricks, disrupting town hall meetings, smelling up our favorite public spaces and give birth to rabid cop shoving grannies fresh from the Tea Party like we saw on TV in 2010. Our desire to get change gets burned by media overkill.

Vote Democrat and Republican or your lives will be ruined. The world will turn upside down and your lives will be swept up and irreversibly altered like Dorothy's house and we'll be forever banished to a land of petty tyrants and powerful evil forces. Better just to stay with the farm.

But the reality is they go to so much trouble because they feel deep down there actually can be something else that works just fine and they are deathly afraid of it. As with an alcoholic hoping nobody notices the expanding amount of burst blood vessels, gaunt physique and mountain of liquor bottles in the recycling crate every week, it becomes insecurity manifesting itself as overcompensation.

But we don't have to be drown in their sorrows. We can have differing views regarding our representation and still have the same political system, same constitution, same working infrastructure, same emergency services or you know what - even better ones. We can still have Democrats and Republicans. We just also elect others to Congress and fill both chambers with additional voices left, right and center. When one party cries sour grapes and wants to pout in the corner, there can be legislation being cooked up from a multitude of perspectives left, right and center.

It won't happen overnight as this year's election is almost upon us and the winner has already pretty much been poured into the mold. But over the next few years perhaps we can start to think about our politics like we do our other products and services we pay for. If they can't stand the heat and keep up with us we should be able to select others that fit who and what we are at any particular moment. The most powerful country in the world and the best we can offer is two options in 2012? No option to upgrade and update the system? That is not a system designed for those patronizing it but an increasingly scant few. I mean everything else has moved beyond cooking in the fireplace except our political status quo.

As times change we should have representation that rise to meet the challenges of those times not the sort of representation that holds us back because it's afraid of what happens if we decide to try something different. We should be able to get to the point where things are okay due to the choices selected regarding how we chose to vote. When the choices stagnate so does our system and the choiceless menu will erode the viability of the great experiment. We have a political system that hasn't changed with the times, but instead forced us to be late to eat because they are scared of the competitions offerings. Our misplaced loyalty is holding us back. That is unacceptable.

To read about my inspiration for this article go to
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