Posts Tagged ‘Democracy’



September 30, 2012

This past week or so, I realized that at a critical juncture in this upcoming election, I’ve turned off.  I am tired of it; I have lost hope that perhaps there was still time to have a reasonable discussion about issues and suggestions for resolution.  I’ve given up at least temporarily, on the ability of collaboration to get us through what this country is facing and somewhat sadly, I have accepted that we have done little more than confuse us all by pitting a 20th century thinker against the first pioneer of the 21st century….and have started to distance myself from what’s going on….a reaction I abhor in not only myself, but also in others. I’d like to think that the next critical month will erase the embarrassing  summer, but I am not optimistic.

So in desperation, as always, I turned to books for the answer.  Sitting on my desk were two: Bob Woodward’s “The Price of Politics”, and “The Parties versus the People” by Mickey Edwards.  Edwards is a one time congressional Republican, a faculty member at Harvard and Princeton, and is now a VP of the Aspen Institute.

I picked the second one to start with as it was smaller and perhaps would give me some insight into what has gone wrong in our world as explained on the book jacket: why we’ve become our own worst enemy:

A penetrating analysis of American democracy’s most urgent threat: a political system so paralyzed by partisanship it is almost incapable of placing national interest ahead of the blind pursuit of political advantage.

Edwards clearly establishes that democratic self-governance comes from mutual respect, the energies of ideas, and ultimately, consensus.  This certainly is something I believe, not just in politics, but in life.

He then establishes that the central challenge of our times is overcoming the tribalism and knee-jerkpartisanship that has emerged over the last two decades.  This, too, supports my thinking.  Our world changed dramatically with the beginning of the Clinton Administration. As the first Boomers in the office, the Clinton Administration got off to a rocky start.  The Clintons survived; and today, certainly have proven themselves, but in the heat of the battle, our two hundred year old governing system did not fare as well.

And so with that, I delved in.  It was not easy reading; it was not necessarily riveting, nor did it necessarily feed my own “reality” of our political world today.  But what it did do, was make me step back from my own positions; it made me think; and I struggled hard to understand the ten steps to change that Edwards put forth.  I am sharing the ten steps below:

  • Take away the right of parties to control access to the ballot
  • Take away the parties’ control over redistricting
  • Reduce campaign spending; increase competition
  • Establish a non-partisan Congressional leadership
  • Establish non-partisan Congressional Committees
  • Restore democracy to Congress
  • Eliminate the trappings of partisanship
  • Longer workweeks; more interaction
  • Eliminate one-party White House strategy sessions
  • Sign no pledges; stand up to bullies

If any or all resonate with you, too, then pick up the book with an open mind and accept the challenges he laid out for us–the voters- because we are the only ones that can change this.