Saturday, January 28, 2006

Can the center hold?

Something is afoot in this country. Either that, or it’s my overzealous optimism running away with me again. Or perhaps it’s just blind hope. But I’m beginning to sense that it’s more than just me who believes there has to be a better way of governing. I can’t help believing that most Americans don’t feel represented by politicians who become more and more entrenched in their partisanship with each passing day. I simply refuse to believe that most Americans aren’t disgusted by the posturing and vitriol and name-calling being passed off by talk radio and cable news pundits as the "national debate."

I believe that all across this country, no matter what color the state, that there is a huge bloc of voters that want liberty and equal justice for all. Voters who want security, prosperity and efficient use of shared resources. Who want the Constitution to be taken at its word -- while leaving room for a wise and fair judiciary to interpret it to meet the needs of a culture that is very different from the one at the time the document was written.

But I don't think the current leadership of either party represents most of America - or even most of their own constituency.

I think most Americans would like there to be no abortions. But I think most feel since that is impossible, abortion should be safe and legal, even while it is discouraged. I think most Americans want to use our might to stand up to terrorism and protect our citizens, but not to take what isn't ours or to bully anyone. I think most Americans want clean air and water.

I think most Americans believe there is a God. But I also think most believe everyone should have a right to hold whatever spiritual beliefs they choose -- even if that's no belief at all. And that even people with whom they disagree (or who they think are sinners) deserve equal civil rights.

I think most Americans want all their fellow citizens to be productive members of our society -- working, enjoying themselves, living happy lives. I may not agree with Bill O’Reilly or Lewis Farrakhan, but I wish them both health and happiness. I hope we all feel that way, that we all want each of our fellow Americans to be able to enjoy their lives in liberty and happiness.

The challenge for us all is how to wield our collective power to create the change we need. We need to stand up and face reality. If we don't get ourselves refocused and pull together as a nation, China and India are going to clean our clocks, economically-speaking. If we as a nation don’t start acting with intelligence and honor, we’re going to find ourselves isolated in a global society. If we don't rediscover what unites us, we will become puppets of an oligarchy.

Maybe we do need a new party. If we do, I'd like it to be one that is smart about money, and wants government to stay out of people's lives unless it can be proven to deliver real benefits. I'd like it to be a party that watches out for the interests of America while recognizing we have to share a planet with several billion other people. A party that generally approaches any issue with an open, rational mind. When we face a problem, such as oil dependency or bird flu or Osama bin Laden or crop production, I want a party filled with people who say “How can we best solve this?” as opposed to “How can we address this in a way that will make me and my donors and my friends more money?”

Something has to change in America, or the warring factions in Washington will succeed in ripping apart the solid center of this country.

No comments: