Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Not Getting It

Tom Friedman has some concerns about where our politics are headed:

The American political system was, as the saying goes, “designed by geniuses so it could be run by idiots.” But a cocktail of political and technological trends have converged in the last decade that are making it possible for the idiots of all political stripes to overwhelm and paralyze the genius of our system.

Those factors are: the wild excess of money in politics; the gerrymandering of political districts, making them permanently Republican or Democratic and erasing the political middle; a 24/7 cable news cycle that makes all politics a daily battle of tactics that overwhelm strategic thinking; and a blogosphere that at its best enriches our debates, adding new checks on the establishment, and at its worst coarsens our debates to a whole new level, giving a new power to anonymous slanderers to send lies around the world. Finally, on top of it all, we now have a permanent presidential campaign that encourages all partisanship, all the time among our leading politicians.
This is a pretty good articulation of some of what has me feeling down in the dumps about our future these days.

The other part of my depression is fueled by another point in Friedman's article.

I have no problem with any of the substantive criticism of President Obama from the right or left. But something very dangerous is happening. Criticism from the far right has begun tipping over into delegitimation and creating the same kind of climate here that existed in Israel on the eve of the Rabin assassination.
Most depressing about this is GOP Chairman Michael Steele's response to it:

"Where do these nut jobs come from? Come on, stop this," Steele told CNN's John Roberts on American Morning... "To make those equations, examples and put that out there that way, to me is just crazy and yeah, I'm sorry, but if you're going to approach this discussion, approach it from a rational position," Steele continued. "[They're] saying, because you disagree with the president on policy, that all of the sudden we're going to make this leap into, you know, assassinations and all this other stuff. I mean, at the height of all this stuff on Bush and people complaining and protesting, and jumping up and down, you didn't have this kind of conversation."
Yes, he is pretty much refusing to take the issue seriously. And the fact that so many are behaving the same way makes Friedman's concerns at the top of the post seem much more insurmountable.

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