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Easy To Say NO

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Message Mark D. Kimball

The "Tea Baggers" (and I must snicker that they gave themselves the moniker), have gathered together to express their frustration and anger at the political gridlock in Washington. All cheered at every speaker who pointed out what was wrong with Washington. Voices gave a resounding "NO" to the political and cultural void that is the District of Columbia.

So far so good. Anyone who thinks our republic is in grand shape is either an optimist of the grandest sort, or has no idea what is going on at the top levels of government. Whether you like Barrack Obama (as I do I admire him greatly though I am a bit disappointed) or hate him, whether you like either political party (I am not fond of either and wonder at their political viability), it's easy to say "no" to the current power structures in Washington.

That's not enough. We have to learn to say more than "no". The politicians of today make more political hay by saying no than by proposing concrete, practical solutions to the various problems besetting us. Firing off an angry letter to our congressional representatives and senators to say no only goes so far. Cheering a witless Sarah Palin for snide remarks aimed at anyone in Washington makes for good political theater but adds nothing to the debate.

The problem with most Americans in our democracy is that few of us study (much less understand) the issues confronting us, nor do we care. We just want action of some kind that doesn't sound too threatening and that promises us something free. Feel our pain (forget the other guy he is "less than"), and make it better. At least make us think it will be better.

If you ask most people who say no (whether Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, and from all racial and socioeconomic groups) what their solution is to the problem they are complaining about, you are generally met with a blank stare. For the more honest people, the answer will be, "I don't know, but we can do better". Folks, that isn't good enough.

American democracy is like a grand parade - martial music, festooned floats, waving flags and lots of litter. At the end of the parade, people feel a little better, but little has been accomplished. We celebrate our ideals; yet do little to keep them alive.

But rather than just being a naysayer, let me make one suggestion. Take one issue you name it: global warming, health care, jobs, banking, commerce, whatever. Really study the issue you have selected. Learn all of the ins-and-outs you can. Know the available options for solving whatever issue you have selected, or come up with a defensible solution yourself. Then, write to your representatives. Share with them the knowledge you have gained. Make concrete proposals for action.

Those are the actions of an informed citizenry. Those are the actions of people who really want to solve problems. Those are the actions that even corporate lobbyists take (though I feel their solutions may be ideologically and financially skewed to a certain outcome).

I imagine few will take my suggestion. It's just too easy and self-satisfying to say no, isn't it?


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Army Veteran, former prosecutor and someone who refuses to be "put in a box" when it comes to politics. Progressive CAN mean pragmatic.
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