Tuesday, August 2, 2011

We live to debt another day

So we’ve got a deal.  And no one is happy.

Congress and President Obama came to an agreement over the debt ceiling.  Democrats bemoan the lack of taxation for the rich and for corporations as well as the possibility of losing environmental protections.  Republicans and Tea Baggers dislike how the ceiling on debt has been raised until 2013 and the lack of serious spending cuts they’ve been wanting.  So on and so forth, ad naseum.  Like three-quarters of the rest of the nation, I think that both sides behaved like spoiled children throughout this entire ordeal.

Yet there may be “hope and change” to come from all of this, a new way of thinking to lead the way out of this high strangeness that has engulfed the collective mind of America for especially the past three years.  Thomas Friedman writes about it in The New York Times, calling it “the rise of the radical center.”  Here is what he says about it:

“Did I mention that I’ve signed a pledge — just like those Republican congressmen who have signed written promises to different political enforcers not to raise taxes or permit same-sex marriage? My pledge is to never vote for anyone stupid enough to sign a pledge — thereby abdicating their governing responsibilities in a period of incredibly rapid change and financial stress. Sorry, I’ve signed it. Nothing more I can do.
“If this kind of idiocy by elected officials sends you into a hair-pulling rage and leaves you wishing that we had more options today than our two-party system is putting forward — for instance, a party that would have offered a grand bargain on the deficit two years ago, not on the eve of a Treasury default — not only are you not alone, but help may be on the way.”

He goes on to write about a movement called Americans Elect.  This collective’s objective is to break apart the monopoly of the two-party system, featuring political parties that were long since bought out by lobbies and special interest groups, and allow for legitimate third party candidates to be placed on the ballot and to participate in televised debates.
Can you imagine it?  A genuine independent challenger that attacks both parties from the middle?  A candidate who is not obligated to tow the line of a party ideology?  Someone unfettered by Tea Baggers and Bible Bangers? 
Using the technology of the Internet, anyone of voting age will be able to submit their nominations and what issues concern them the most.   As Friedman says, “What Amazon.com did to books, what the blogosphere did to newspapers, what the iPod did to music, what drugstore.com did to pharmacies, Americans Elect plans to do to the two-party duopoly that has dominated American political life — remove the barriers to real competition, flatten the incumbents and let the people in.”

I certainly hope so.  It’s time for a genuine discussion of issues and ideas between smart people who are not forcibly tethered to lobbies or dogma.  Here's to hoping the Americans Elect concept moves from dreaminess to entelechy fast.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets


  1. On the opposite end of the spectrum is www.goooh.com where all of the concentration is on binding candidates to sign off on their stances in order to assure accountability. This movement also has a big following.

  2. Thanks, I'll check that out.
    It's a great idea. I also heard someone suggest that we require political leaders to take an oath to tell the truth. If found to be doing otherwise, their automatically booted out of office.


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