Thursday, October 21, 2010


There are a lot of people that will attack politicians as a group for being dishonest. I believe most politicians are good people, that want to do what they think is right. The system that we have makes it difficult for politicians to be very honest, because everything they say is reduced to soundbites, and mostly only relayed to the public if there's some major gaffe, announcement, or change in policy.

It is easy now to listen to only one political party, and this can lead to people not understanding or wanting to understand differing viewpoints. If a person is conservative, Fox news and talk radio provide voices of agreement. A liberal person may watch MSNBC, read the New York Times, and view the Huffington Post. In both cases, these voices of agreement reflect what a partisan person thinks and adds similar perspectives to provide a world view. It turns into an echo chamber where the individual's views are all they hear, and so hearing their own opinions convinces them that their views are correct. And it makes it difficult to understand others' viewpoints.

I don't believe there ever was a true "golden age" where the news sources were objective, but I do think that in depth coverage of issues by people who aim to provide objective information is possible. Personally I always check my own views against what I imagine a person in a very foreign country might think about an issue, and then what a person that lived 2,000 years ago might think about the issue. These others may not always be right, but they do add perspectives different to my own, especially about the relative importance of the issues...

In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess, one of my goals is to get a didgeridoo into all that I do. I just think that we should all sit down and discuss civilly the things that really matter. Lets talk about the issues. Not about a gaffe. Or a scandal. Lets talk about the laws that we're making.

I think it's unfortunate that talking about the negatives of a political opponent may help more than talking about a candidate's own strengths. To some degree, I think this is necessary. Who is going to tell me what's wrong with a candidate if not his political opponent? But often it ends up that all candidates speak poorly of each other, and we never learn the positions and positives of the candidates. And then it becomes the lesser of two evils, instead of 'who is going to do the greatest good.'

I think the best thing to do to improve the political system is getting involved. Listen to opposing viewpoints, and understand where they come from. I think democrats tend to accuse republicans of believing that everything is black or white, while republicans think democrats don't stand for anything. I think in life there are advantages and disadvantages to every position. There are shades of gray. But at the end of the day, there is a 'best' option, and then there are other options. Thinking that one party has a monopoly on being right seems ridiculous to me.

And please don't write off all politicians because they are politicians. There's a way to get elected, and it's by promising what voters want. I think most of us that get to meet one up close find out that they are actually good people, regardless of party affiliation.

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