Thursday, April 25, 2013

How to make your politics more satisfying

           Face it, there’s little you and I can do to improve the US political culture which has gone bipartisanly rancid. It’s time for each of us to protect our political sanity. A few suggestions:
            1. Don’t let the TV pundits tell you what to think. Especially don’t let Rachel Maddow of MSNBC tell you what to think. Or Karl Rove with his insufferable chalkboard thing. These people see themselves as molders of opinion. My opinions are moldy enough.
            2. Pollsters would have you believe that an American shopping for a political home must choose between liberalism and conservatism, the one excluding the other. In fact, one can admix elements of each. The two philosophies exist in symbiosis or they do not exist.
            3. Or, disdain these labels altogether. Ask not what is liberal or conservative. Ask what is true, and let the answer fall where it may on the political spectrum. Franklin Roosevelt was a fiscal conservative who became a Keynesian when he saw the need. And Dwight Eisenhower found truth everywhere. “I think most Americans are both liberal and conservative,” he said.
            4. Because a few politicians err or are corrupt, it is possible to adopt a general cynicism about the entire class. Resist the temptation. And keep it civil. There is no governing idea that cannot be undermined by meanness of spirit.
            5. “Kum Bah Yah” is a perfectly good song and not, as some would have it, an anthem of false conciliation.
            6. Will panelists on news shows ever realize that five people talking at once is not discourse? Ideas profit when we allow one another the dignity of a completed thought. Being loud is not the same thing as being bold.
            7. It is possible to believe that most politicians (and most lawyers and most bureaucrats) are men and women of rectitude. Most want to help, despite the backbreaking burden of regulations under which they work.
            8. Goes the cynic’s plaint, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” You don’t have to get a dog. There is still honor. There’s still kindness, and you and I may rely on it.
            9. If “Kum Bah Yah” is discredited, have Congress belt out a bipartisan rendering of “Give My Regards to Broadway.”
            10. If a pundit invites you to lunch, let him pick up the check. Most of them have expense accounts.

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