Monday, July 18, 2011

Doing better

Mickey Edwards has an article in the current July/August issue of The Atlantic magazine called "How To Turn Republicans and Democrats Into Americans".  Edwards served in Congress for 16 years and has taught law and journalism at several important universities.  He has quite a few articles in the Atlantic archives.  I mention this article because it may be of interest and some aid to the several relatives and friends of mine who seem to be a bit despondent and/or angry about our government.  Any local or state government is important but the federal government concerns us all and just about nobody is happy with it these days.  

It helps me to use examples and pictures from books like Ken Follette's Pillars of the Earth and Robert Graves's I, Claudius to compare and contrast life today with what humans have done in other times and places.  If you don't want to go back to the middle ages or ancient Rome, you can just go back to the days of the early American settlers.  Try Let the Hurricane Roar or the books of that woman's mother, the very famous Laura Ingalls Wilder.  The point is that we can handle what is going on, just as people did with extremely trying, damaging and scary times before.

I find it helpful to remember that a major difference between early times and now is what can generally be called the media.  You know, tv and the internet and magazines and movies.  One major function of the media is to convey the news, the 'north-east-west-south' of local and more distant happenings.  But whether you have politicians in Washington or news organizations at different points around the planet, it is natural that they will compete with each other for prominence and dominance.  And, as people will do, they think ahead and try to solidify any prominence, dominance or advantage they get to make it last longer, permanently if possible.  

So, we get political bodies shirking the messy jobs of laws and their execution and interpretation to spend more time and energy on gaining  political power over their opponents.  We get news organizations shirking the news to work out ads and messages and modes and headlines that will land the most readers and Twitter and Google+ 'followers', with little regard for normal old everyday news events.  (For an interesting side note on the effect of the media and publicity and human interest, see this post on the Chilean miners after their rescue.)

If you want to see some professional and interesting recommendations for fixing two-party government, take a look at the Mickey Edwards article linked above.  At a minimum, you will see that you are not alone in feeling that we could be doing better.

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