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Political infection

By
March 16, 2007

Either we have reached a new peak of an intrusion of politics into our public sphere or we are just more aware of how much partisan politics has infected everyday life. There is the “Attorney 8” controversy, the Plame affair and the seeming omnipresence of Karl Rove under every rock in American life.

Our founding fathers warned that parties would likely be poison to democracy. They feared that partisans would overwhelm an enlightened populace with their short sighted purposes and mean spirited tactics. Of course, many of these same founders soon descended into the pits of partisanship themselves.

Some wonder what is wrong with the President firing the Attorney 8; the question exposes the depth of our public cesspool today. The Administration and their lapdogs have tried to gloss this over by arguing all U.S. Attorneys serve at the pleasure of the President. What this hides is the fact that through our long history U.S. Attorneys have for the most part insisted that their legal decisions be insulated from political purposes. For the most part all previous Presidents have been willing to honor this tradition.

That was before the advent of Karl Rove, however. This is the same man who felt it fair game to disclose the identity of a covert CIA operative in order to provide for the ill fated decision to invade Iraq. There is no part of life that Rove exempts from the slime of partisanship.

Why “slime?” Because a partisan cares about power at any cost. Their responsibility is to being elected, not the public as a whole. Some hide behind the argument that they want power in order to serve the public, but if you have ever gone behind the curtain you will know better – and need a strong cleansing shower.

Partisans infect our life with a no holds barred assault on ethics, decency and goodwill. We would be such a better nation, a better served public, and a less a danger to the world if parties could just be banned. Let each candidate for political office generate their own campaign, free of “slates” and parties; let them run on their own merits, not tied to a party and its own purposes.

Of course we as citizens would have to engage more fully in the process of electing and monitoring our government. We would have to be “enlightened” just as our founders hoped we would be. It would take work on our part, but just imagine what our public life would be like if no parties existed.

While we are still stuck with parties, however, if the public actually got involved with the process they might insist that partisanship pull back from its full assault under this Administration. Some things demand that we make decisions not as partisans but as citizens. There are issues that require us to look from the point of view of others, not only our own so that we can act as a community, as a nation, not as Democrat, Republican, or whatever designation one may adopt.

This pull back would let us unite rather than divide the public sphere. We could pull back from the segregation of ourselves along not only political lines, but also all the other many divisions we now insist are so important. All those issues we are told are essential when voting are really an opportunity to reach across the divide to find common ground.

I tired of being told that I should vote for a candidate only because he or she favors this issue or another, or that the Supreme Court will fall to “them” if I don’t swallow what I think is best and vote for the “lesser of evils.” We must stop buying this pap. We must tell the media to stop inundating us with garbage about a candidate’s personal life and insist that it put its focus on how our government is impacting our lives. We need politicians to actually answer questions instead of giving us the response that is safe.

We need to ask Presidential candidates whether they will be partisans or President; whether they will have a “Karl Rove” or the best people to serve the largest good. Get involved in every level of politics. Don’t let the smell deter you, don’t “put up with it” because some boogey man is trotted out to scare you.

Take Back America, vote by vote.