Who you vote for tomorrow is your business.
What I think of any candidate is my business.
But what we American citizens are going to do, collectively, about the increasingly bitter and divisive approach to governance in this nation is everyone’s urgent business.
The 2010 mid-term elections will occur tomorrow, Tuesday, November 2, 2010, but already the campaigns are underway for the 2012 presidential election. By Wednesday morning of this week, it’s likely that the balance of power in Congress will have changed, and numerous candidates who might win this week have vowed to use their new power to oust the president in 2012.
It’s come to this: rather than using legislative power to create effective laws that will serve the needs of the people of our nation, elected officials increasingly use their offices to reinforce their respective parties and to do everything possible to undermine the positions of the opposition. Real legislation either falls by the wayside or emerges so damaged by compromises along the way that the results are worse than no legislation at all.
This election season has given us vast new forms of entertainment — from the Senate candidate in Delaware who opened her campaign by declaring she’s not a witch, to the Nevada candidate who told Hispanic students they “look Asian,” to the former CEO of eBay spending nearly $150 million in what appears to be a losing bid for the California governor’s mansion.
Unfortunately, some of the most entertaining characters in this season are women. In Sunday’s Outlook section of the Washington Post, Rebecca Traister correctly points out that just because there seem to be more weird women running for office this year doesn’t mean that most of the women up for election are actually weird. It’s just the triumph of political equality, with the caveat that the number of weird men in office or seeking office remains, proportionately, far larger.
Great. I feel better already!
Seriously, folks, whether you believe in Democrats or Republicans or the Tea Party, whether your taste runs to Jerry Brown or Sarah Palin or the guy who created “The Rent Is Too Damn High” Party, on Wednesday morning we have to come together and agree on one thing: we have to get our government moving in a direction that will improve the economy and restore some semblance of effectiveness in the creation of law and policy for the people.
Wednesday morning’s agenda will not look very different from today’s headlines: American soldiers are still dying in Afghanistan in what is now the longest war in American history; Al Qaeda is developing new ways to terrorize the world; and children in our nation’s urban schools still can’t read. While we’ve been busy marching around the U.S. Capitol to the pied-piping pseudo tunes of Glenn Beck or Jon Stewart, or watching Bristol Palin romp on DWTS, or wondering what the heck is going on with Donovan McNabb and Mike Shanahan, we’ve been indulging the ultimate adolescent fantasy that the adults are attending to business while we’re messing around.
News flash: WE are the adults. We are the ones responsible to call elected officials to the task of real governing, to stop the sideshows and endless campaigning. We are the ones who must dare members of Congress and other elected officials to make hard decisions, maybe even risk their re-elections to do what is right in every piece of legislation.
Governing is not the same as campaigning. “Fixing government” can start with demanding an end to campaigning once officials take the oath of office. 2012 will be here soon enough.