Sunday, September 30, 2012

They Call It DI-alogue For A Reason

Photo: Associated Press
Once upon a time in America, there used to a bunch of political parties.  Well, not really "a bunch"... Three, maybe... certainly no less than two.  And that was a good thing. Why? Because it led to conversations and back-and-forth and idea exchanges by people who disagreed with each other.  These conversations were referred to in the parlances as "dialogues".  Dialogues are sort of like monologues, except they consist of two speakers, usually speaking in turns (though occasionally, in moments of intense excitement, at the same time).  Dialogues - such as one might have in a debate - challenge both speakers to present cogent, cohesive, non-crazy arguments in order to make their case.

What we're NOT having these days is a dialogue.  We're getting blather, idiocy, self-serving secretly taped conversations between rich people who hate the rest of us who aren't rich from one side, and... well... a whole lot of no talk on the other side.  This is a problem.

When Romney was chosen as the GOP candidate, the main reason for choosing such a lifeless automaton was that he could have the conversation with Obama about the slow growth of the economy.  Now, personally, I don't think the slow growth of the economy is Obama's fault.  I've spent four years watching an obstructionist Congress drag their feet, refuse to pass job creation legislation while it gleefully pursued the stripping of access to healthcare for low-income women, rescinding women's access to contraception and the limiting of abortion rights.  No money. No jobs. No economic growth strategies. And no talk about a plan to do any of those things.

Still, also personally, I would like to know, in detail, just exactly what Obama plans to do over the next four years, should he be elected, to keep the economy on an up-swing and possibly speed up the process.  I have heard his tax plan, and I agree with it. But I'd like to know, should he face another four years of foot-dragging conservatives, how he plans to go through or around them to keep them from hanging us up anymore than they have.  A second term President doesn't have the same restrictions as a first term one does.  Thoughts of reelection are removed and a President can be freer to be less conciliatory, less compromising.

Also, today, the 2000th American soldier was killed in Afghanistan.  And, as has been happening all too frequently, it was one of the Afghan troops we're supposed to be training that did the killing.  Yet another young American has flown home in a flag-draped casket.  So the dialogue we should be having is the one where we get to say maybe we don't want to leave Afghanistan in 2014. Maybe we'd like to go sooner, if you please. That's a discussion I'd really like our President to be having with his opponent - and, by extension, us - right now.

But we're not having that little chat, either. Because the candidates running on the Right are not interested in having that conversation.  They're not interested in having any conversation.  "Elect us first, and all will be revealed."  They don't feel the need to talk, because they don't begin to see that we're a part of this process.  We have a voice and we get a say.  And having two sides arguing is the way we get to see who has the better plan, the better idea. National public opinion fueled the end to the Vietnam War.  It fueled the end to Jim Crow. It gave women the right to vote.

What Republicans want to talk about -- still -- is Obama's foreignness or his "darkness", and how so many Americans (after suffering through the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression) are struggling to the point where they need government assistance.  They want to draw attention away from the fact that their current economic plan is IDENTICAL to George W. Bush's (and we saw how well that worked out). They are so adverse to talking about the War that their GOP candidate did not even mention that War or its soldiers in his convention acceptance speech.

But these are dialogues that should be happening, and two sides need to be having them.  The hardest part about losing any kind of reasonable Republican party is that there are no grown-ups on one side to face off against the grown-ups on the other.

And that makes America and this election process all the poorer for it.

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