Saturday, October 2, 2010

Seeking Leaders

Where are today’s leaders? From top to bottom, our government doesn’t seem to have many, if any. Rancor, partisanship, and even corruption seem to infect nearly every discussion and issue. As a result, important needs go unaddressed. Possible solutions get postponed or stifled altogether. And nothing changes…except for the worse.

A big part of the problem is the influence of special interest money in both major parties. It doesn’t seem to matter if either Democrats or Republicans hold the reins because the only true difference is which special interests get served. The hard working American is always left holding the short straw. As a result, anger has been building among the electorate and an optimist would say that things are finally on the verge of change. The Tea Party has emerged and is beginning to flex its apparent might.

And that’s where it all begins to unravel again unfortunately. Both major parties have recognized the anger as a force to be reckoned with and have begun to re-fashion themselves as Tea Party champions. Among the scary hopefuls are personalities like Palin, O’Donnell, and Paladino. If these are our saviors, I’m sad to say we are doomed. Even for more “traditional” Tea Party candidates, money has flowed relentlessly to support those “with a shot.” Palin seems to fancy herself as some sort of kingmaker. O’Donnell is carrying enough baggage to sink her candidacy several times over. Paladino continues to try to paint himself as a reformer when in fact he is among the biggest insiders NY has ever known. In my eye, the hope that was sparked by the anger has deteriorated to desperation candidates. The Tea Party candidates emerging are extremely divisive and have given strong voice to the fringe. Personally, I am disappointed but not surprised by that progression.

One of the more interesting questions posed to me when I ran for office last year regarded the ability to work effectively together with whoever got elected to get things done that needed to get done. It was a perceptive question, especially considering the dysfunction and discord that has ensued among those that were united before the election but have since assumed individual agendas and relegated effectiveness to the sidelines. The local discourse in Rotterdam has once again turned nasty and divisive. I am greatly disappointed in that development as well.

So what’s the answer? My friend at Poli-Tea recently provided an excerpt from the Huffington Post that I found intriguing in its simplicity.

Once you begin to expose that two-party, Democratic versus Republican paradigm for the manufactured fraud that it is, a political opportunity starts to emerge.
Drop the theatrics of left versus right and you see that both parties are united
in their corruption by special-interest groups. Suddenly, a real alternative
founding principle becomes clear; one that could effectively rally the support
of a significant number of Americans. Our country needs a third political
party based on the explicit rejection of lobbyist money as its fundamental,
unwavering principle. This party sales pitch would be clear and compelling;
"Unlike the Democrats and Republicans, we aren't corrupt."
Because this party will break the chains of left versus right, its policies would be unlikely to fit neatly into the current paradigm. The traditional questions of big
government versus small government would be replaced by an emphasis on effective government.

People have lost faith in our current political system and with
good reason. I believe we're close to a tipping point, where the incredible
advances in communications technology combine with a strong anticorruption
philosophy to help build a political party that breathes life into American
democracy before it's too late.

In practice, I don’t believe it will be as simple as described but the emphasis on effective government is certainly the key. Many think they know my mind and will be perplexed by this post. I’ve always been a registered Republican but I wouldn’t say I’m a Republican anymore. I’ve agreed with some Democrat objectives, usually taking issue with implementation, but I’m no Democrat either. I consider myself to have conservative leanings but I’m fairly certain Conservatives would lynch me, and though I hold some liberal views on certain topics, I’d lynch myself if I thought I was a Liberal. I’m definitely angry, and have been for longer than most others that have recently been motivated by their own anger, but I’m definitely no Tea Partier either. The rhetoric of their “leaders” scares the hell out of me. Anger, in itself, just isn’t enough. It has to be tempered and magnified simultaneously and then focused thoughtfully to realize worthy accomplishment. It’s easier to be loud and angry than to translate the anger into meaningful and desirable change. I don’t believe the Tea Party has quite figured that out yet.

Just consider me an independent – totally and completely – and if you think you know my view on a particular aspect, you’ll probably wind up being surprised to learn my actual view. My views are as disparate as they come. Sometimes they are even contradictory. That dichotomy gets reconciled through effectiveness, which is something I’m usually skilled at. I’d like to see my leaders equally skilled.