MY TURN: NORMAN ZANETTI: Tune Out of Politics? -- We Can't Afford It
The Clinton-Obama debate in Texas last week was critiqued for the next three days on CNN with more segment replays than the Super Bowl.
At least a dozen political prognosticators took the liberty to remind us time and again what we initially saw and decided for ourselves. Shouldn't we be more concerned that Obama, Clinton and their rival, McCain, are all incumbent senators who swore an oath to serve us in U.S. Senate chamber proceedings for six years?
Their absence had Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid asking if it might be prudent to wait for these three to come off the campaign before the Senate voted on the president's economic stimulus package. With all three candidates talking change, how about changing this habit?
It is painful to watch a house so divided that as cameras spanned the House chamber during the president's State of the Union address, we saw Republicans to the right and Democrats to the left, one half attentive and in applause and the other seemingly uninterested to the point of dozing off.
If you can somehow sympathize with that, how about this? Turn on cable TV any day and watch Senate or House proceedings. More often than not, you'll find a speaker at the podium explaining the facts and virtues of a piece of legislation to a chamber of many empty seats.
Are we to assume those absent are informed enough to make the proper choice on the bill or issue at hand, or is support for such a bill so partisan that it no longer matters? Should we be appalled that two state delegations will not be seated at their party's national convention because of their haggling over primary timing, and that the candidates themselves boycotted these states with the blessing of the Democratic National Committee?
What does that say to the many voters in those states who pledged committee time and financial support to help the party? What a raw deal. Even more raw could be the role played by the state super-delegates who could very well throw their support to a candidate who did not win the support of the electorates in their states.
What has evolved over time in the political arena continues to alienate and disgruntle the American voter. Partisanship and special interests have our government drifting in so many directions, with so much divisiveness, that we knew even before recent polling that faith in our government's ability to perform its duty was at an all-time low.
So we're in a fix. What to do about it?
The fix, so to speak, must come from the bottom up, not the top down. Too many of us have become so discontented with politics that we avoid getting active with local and state candidates for governmental positions.
Yet it's from these ranks where future candidates for federal offices emerge. Hello!
We need to take time to discover, convince and nominate talented people early on to make a difference later on. How many times do we step into a voting booth not liking any of the choices? We don't take enough responsibility for this, and it has to stop.
As November approaches, we must get motivated to make the effort to learn more about how we will cast our vote. At the same time, we must begin to think about who we would rather have on the ballot the next time around. Rally some support to make him or her come forward in the future.
If enough of us do enough of that, then the fix is in.
Norman Zanetti relocated to Pinehurst in May from the Boston area after retiring from a 36-year career with Dow Chemical.
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