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Do we need change? Of course we do, but change to what?

By DOUG THOMPSON - A Capitol Hill Blue Opinion
August 5, 2013

But first, a word from our sponsor

But first, a word from our sponsor

A group of us who gather for breakfast most mornings at a local restaurant here in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, often talk about the myriad of problems facing America and the question of what — if anything — can be done.

Because of my 10-year sabbatical from journalism to work on Capitol Hill and inside the political system of this country, a question that normally comes my way is “what to you think can or should be done?”

More often than not, I shrug my shoulders and mutter something like “beats the hell out of me.”

That dismissive answer comes not from a lack of interest in dealing with the serious challenges that face this nation but from too many years of watching too many ideas that seemed good at one time either fail or turn out to be just another piece of quick-fix, personal agenda serving political garbage.

It’s hard to not turn cynical in such times.  As a journalist, skepticism and cynicism are tools fo the trade.  As a one-time political operative, such things are necessary for survival.

I wish I had an answer.  Obviously, the current system is not working.  Congress is mired in partisan gridlock.  The current President turned out to just be more of the same.  Despite promises and claims,the economy is not really recovering.  Cities, towns and counties file for bankruptcy, future leaders are assessed more for their celebrity appeal than any actual experience or ability and a disturbing number of Americans in uniform are still dispatched to foreign soil for missions that defy rationality or escape reason.

In such times, depression is hard to avoid and a feeling that America is a doomed nation too often overwhelms the senses.

For the past half-century, I have — on and off — been part of a profession often blamed for the decline and fall of America.  Media is a popular scapegoat and has been the target of derision and blame since the days of Poor Richard’s Almanack and the American revolution.

Benjamin Franklin published the Almanack under the pseudonym of “Richard Saunders” and, among other things, published “news stories” in serial format to try and keep readers coming back.  He was, like media figures today, viewed with some skepticism and doubts about his motives.  Wrote James Russell Lowell:

We shall find out that Franklin was born in Boston, and invented being struck with lightning and printing and the Franklin medal, and that he had to move to Philadelphia because great men were so plenty in Boston that he had no chance, and that he revenged himself on his native town by saddling it with the Franklin stove, and that he discovered the almanac, and that a penny saved is a penny lost, or something of the kind.

While I can never claim that this web site is a modern version of Poor Richard, or anything removely approaching that, I have found my motives often questioned here and throughout the Internet.

So be it.  Capitol Hill Blue stands today as the oldest continually-published political news web site on the Internet.  On October 1, we celebrate 19 years on the World Wide Web and my return today to the fold after cutting short a sabbatical to recover from a near-fatal motorcycle accident last fall stems from a need for survival.  This web site is a major part of my life and has been for nearly two decades.

Can we make a difference?

Beats the hell of me.

Can we try?

Damn right we can.

___

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Copyright  © 2013 Capitol Hill Blue

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5 Responses to Do we need change? Of course we do, but change to what?

  1. CA Leeson

    August 5, 2013 at 8:15 am

    The only way I see to get out of this mess is to start at the base and rebuild. Start at the local level of government and elect the people that you know you can trust and if they prove themselves to be trustworthy, repeat the process at the state and federal level. But these left and right wing radicals need to go and replace them with people that understand the value of compromise. If you have no compromise you have 2 or more parties butting heads and accomplishing nothing and that is what is going on in government now.
    If nothing else, it is a starting point.

  2. CA Leeson

    August 5, 2013 at 8:17 am

    And keep the big money political parties out of it.

  3. Bill Cravener

    August 5, 2013 at 8:21 am

    I believe for our generation Doug it is over and the up and coming generations do not seem to care all that much other then bitching about it anonymously on the internet. This country is going to continue to move in its current direction and so too the world. I figure I have perhaps 10 to 20 more years of living and I’m going to enjoy it as much as possible. Let the stones fall where they may, I just do not give a damn anymore.

  4. SDRSr

    August 5, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    This is what is important.

    “Can we make a difference?

    Beats the hell of me.

    Can we try?

    Damn right we can.”

    Never trust anyone under 60… ;)

    Thanks Doug, for providing 15 years +/- of home page.

  5. Jon

    August 6, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    I’d suggest that one essential tool is the realization that even if perfection is unattainable, it’s still worth working towards.

    If you read history you’ll find that collapsing empires and the USA today have much in common. So? It too will pass. Maybe the next empire will be better.

    It won’t be perfect. Never. But you could help make it better, even if perfection is unattainable – getting closer is a desirable thing.

    Jon