Partisan Political Attacks Create Angst and Apathy (in me)

I’ve noticed myself ignoring my unread item notices on Google Reader regularly recently.  I follow 14 blogs, most of them overtly political, the rest of them vaguely political, and all of them local.  Not only am I ignoring the unread notices on a regular basis, when I do decide to clean it up, I hardly read them, I just clear the unread notice.

I’m not sure if it is the current political subject matter that bores me, or if my recent political run has just jaded my outlook.  I do feel a little depressed based on the news.  Right now, you have the Chamber of Commerce in alliance with The Republican Party together attacking workers in what I see as a divide and conquer manner.  There is no chance that the assault on unions here in MN or WI is budget related or freedom related.  It is purely and simply politically motivated. 

The goal in the Republican ideology is to prevent unions from influencing elections.  But instead of passing laws to stop the influx of money influence in elections that might come from Unions, which by the way was dwarfed by the Chamber of Commerce, Republicans have decided to destroy unions with phony “right to work” laws designed specifically to bankrupt unions and constant blame for everything from lazy workers to them being “cause” or at least scapegoat for budget deficits.  But labor is not the issue, and it will not solve budget problems.  These “solutions” simply weaken workers and thus, to the delight of the Republican Party, it will eventually weaken a strong funding mechanism for progressive politics.

Side Note: Notice I said “progressive” and not Democratic politics.  Despite the demonization of the word progressive by Republicans, maybe I should say by Glenn Beck, the word progressive in politics is simply a word that labels a group that supports an agenda of political action to fix the problems plaguing our country.  Republicans were called progressives at one time, Teddy Roosevelt, Albert Cumming, Robert La Follette, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. and his dissenting partner Justice Louis Brandeis, even Abe Lincoln was a progressive in action, if not by label.  But Democrats started out-progressing Republicans under Woodrow Wilson and later under Franklin Roosevelt.  As political parties are want-to-do, the Republicans couldn’t just agree, they had to counter and become more conservative.  If nothing else, grasp at straws to destroy.  Unions will support whoever supports workers, today and for three-quarters of a century is has been the Democrats who have been progressive on labor issues.

The problem is that we could solve everything without destroying the rights of workers and save a ton of money in society by passing election laws that limit election spending and create publicly financed elections.  How many millions of dollars could be saved and invested in a businesses and workers if as a state we weren’t spending many millions of dollars on lobbying and commercials to influence politics.

How much time would be saved in our legislature if legislators could just go ahead and vote with their conscience instead of based on their reelection campaign funding or based on the support they pledged to get an endorsement?  And how much better would our state be if legislators were beholden to all of their constituents instead of only their financial supporters?  How many more people would feel good about voting if they felt they had a voice instead of the feeling that the biggest spenders have control?

Maybe that sounds a bit jaded, but I am tired of what’s happening now and I’m tired of the snarky remarks and blame being tossed around, when the system is what is flawed.  I was recently the subject of a “comment lecture” on Facebook blaming Democrats for something Republicans were equally responsible for, if not more responsible for.  The partisan rancor is absurd, and at a point that drives the average person away from the political process, creating even more extreme ideas and extremist control in each party.  I specifically got involved in the DFL Party because of that.  And despite my growing angst about the rhetoric, I keep moving deeper in to the process.

I started this rant by mentioning blogs.  I did have a point.  The blog post I enjoyed reading the most recently had nothing to do with politics.  It was called Insecure About Money by Joey White at the blog Wide White.  It isn’t some major piece of great writing, but it is a subject I completely identify with.  I think that is what so many bloggers are missing right now, personal identification.  Popular blogs are filled with crazy and shrill remarks to draw readers.  A blog shouldn’t be a popularity contest or a ego builder, it should be honest opinions.  I don’t write about a DFL political agenda, although sometimes I think I should.  I write about what interests me and what are truly my opinions.

Joey and I have differing views on a lot of political issues, probably most issues, but he and I are very similar when it comes to partisan politics.  Using a quote Joey made on a blog post of mine he said “I realize partisan politics is really the only option in America, I just hate it.”  That’s why even despite our differences, I like his blog, he is honest and I respect him for his honest conviction and opinions.  I’m not sure I always get that from the extremists on either side.

I know what my right-wing attackers are thinking.  On my blog I attack Tim Pawlenty and John Kline regularly, as well as “Republicans!” in general.  But that is because I see so much hypocritical Republican Party politics in them.  Party agenda first, constituents second.  I respect Republicans who have honest beliefs that jive with the party.  I don’t have a problem with the conservative agenda if that is what you believe in, that doesn’t mean I have to like it or agree with it, but I believe you have a right to work toward and think that way, just like I have the right and deserve the respect for my beliefs.  It is that partisan rhetoric and attack that needs to stop.  We need to be honest and respectful, and we need to stop thinking one side is always right and one side is always wrong.  There is a middle ground and there can be compromise.  There are adequate solutions that will make the state, nation and world a better place, that do not rely on one single political outcome.

I got to interview former congressman, Minneapolis mayor and state legislator Don Fraser for a project I am going to work on, and the thing I really liked was his discussion on political parties in the state.  He said state legislators were not aligned with parties until recently.  Just like city council races, all races were nonpartisan elections.  He felt that was a good thing because there were bills that two people would be on complete opposite sides of an issue, and in debate on the next bill be strong allies.  That can’t happen now.  Partisan politics prevents it.  Look at the override 6 here in Minnesota, Blanche Lincoln, Joe Lieberman, Richard Lugar, Orin Hatch and the term RINO in general.

I think I’ve rambled long enough here, and I fear my blog is reaching the end of its usefulness.  I find myself becoming more cynical about politics and more cynical about the extremist actions of many politicians today, especially those aligned with the Chamber of Commerce.  I find it harder to pay attention, and am less willing to, even when it is a person I support.  I strongly believe in the ideals of inclusiveness, equality and justice, and the DFL fits with where I am right now, I’m just not sure this is the best avenue for my work, the problem is based on my short time experience with the State DFL Central Committee, I’m not sure the DFL is either.  I guess local is the way to go.

That may be my longest post ever, and if you got this far, I think I am sorry…

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One thought on “Partisan Political Attacks Create Angst and Apathy (in me)”

  1. Steve, great post. As soon as I saw the title of your post I pulled it up to come back to later when I had a few minutes. That was before I knew I was featured in it. :)

    I couldn’t agree more with you on this:

    As political parties are want-to-do, the Republicans couldn’t just agree, they had to counter and become more conservative. If nothing else, grasp at straws to destroy.

    If you look at history there are so many cases of both parties doing this. Until sometime in the last 30-40 years, state parties really varied from one another on a number of issues. Today, they’ve coalesced to a much greater degree, and they’ve coalesced against their opposing parties. The minority party will always disagree because it’s their only shot at gaining a majority. That’s why big-spending Republicans from the Bush era are now finding themselves cutting new notches in their spending belts so they can make them suddenly tighter.

    Oh, and I couldn’t agree more with your assessment, “It isn’t some major piece of great writing.” ;)

    When I started my blog I was heavily involved in Wisconsin Republican politics. I quickly rose in the right-wing blogging ranks, but as I grew to hate the politics in the campaigning, I grew to hate the politics in the blogging world. Bloggers are often purists. If you deviate at all on any issue, they quit following you and throw you under the bus and blog about how awful you are. That doesn’t appeal to me.

    So when you say, “A blog shouldn’t be a popularity contest or a ego builder, it should be honest opinions,” I couldn’t agree more. I changed the format to a more inconsistent schedule that didn’t focus nearly as exclusively on politics when I left the campaign. Over the years it’s evolved until towards the end of last year when I finally determined I owed it to those paying attention to read the blog to at least formulate some sort of posting schedule if I was going to stick with this blogging thing for another 5 years.

    Of course, that schedule gets thrown off occasionally – a day missed here and there or, as in the last 2 days, an extra post in a day based on the circumstances. But I’m much happier and, interestingly, I’ve found more readers seem to be interested that way too.

    By the way, I wanted to say thank you for your words via Facebook. I think yours is one of the comments I still need to respond to. There are so many. It’s all been so overwhelming. I really appreciated reading that. It brought tears to my eyes and probably will again when I reread it. I had no idea I could get so emotional so often…

    Thanks again for the post! I’ll keep reading, Republican-bashing and all. ;)

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