Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Local Politics: One Tough Profession!

The Marine Corps used to have the motto 'A Few Good Men', that was pretty effective in both attracting recruits and inspiring 'esprit de corps'.
I wish there were more good men -and women- these days who would contribute more positively to our society and especially our civil debates.

It seems we have a gross surplus of those who are very diligent in examining with great detail [and sometimes imagination] what's wrong with our way of life, and then writing or otherwise verbalizing about it via Internet and other media or forums.
Don't you get tired of a steady diet of that?
I know I do.
What can be done to improve or change this habit, if anything?
Maybe this is what people prefer, but I don't think so.

All of us have lives that contain challenges, disappointments and failures, because that is just part of the human experience.
But, it's just PART of it, certainly not the whole thing!
How many would rather listen to or read something that is actually uplifting or encouraging.when they get home in the evening, rather than a steady diet of negativity?
I know I would, and suspect there are many, many others who feel the same way.

Lord knows, I've written my share of critical pieces over time, but that isn't my main or only reason for creating blogs.
There are so many issues, viewpoints and possibilities that an almost endless stream of writings is possible.
But, who would have the time or inclination to read them, much less write them?

The point is, we pick and choose our topics and the time and place of their publication based on whatever criteria seems important at the moment.
That's why I wonder if some folks haven't unconsciously developed a penchant for abject negativity, whether by nature or design.
I say that because lately I've noticed a preponderance of really negative, even mean spirited, writings [and comments] appearing on Internet websites.

This is not a shocking revelation, or even a surprising one, but it can get pretty deadening and discouraging I suppose if one were to take all the negative opinion too seriously for too long.
Most people probably won't let that happen to them; they just find something else to occupy their time and attention -at least for a while until tempted again to peek at local mudslinging, conjecture, advocacy for lost causes, or just political BS.

It's hard to put my finger on exactly which article(s) may have finally triggered me to write this piece, but likely its a feeling that's been building over time.
Some recent postings on NW Citizen, regarding Dan & Lisa McShane's political ambitions and prowess, did seem a bit over the edge to me.
Now, don't get me wrong; I'm not close friends with the McShanes, although I do happen to share many -probably most- of their core values, including preservation of the environment, our quality of life, and healthy and honest political campaigning in the greater public's interest, and the like.
All those things seem pretty important to me, and I suspect the McShanes and I agree on most of them, even though I did choose to strongly support other candidates in the last Mayoral race.

The two things that bug me the most about the NWC pieces were these:

• They seemed more like personal attacks -'hit' pieces - based past feelings and history than rational arguments rooted in current facts or issues that are in evidence.

• They followed a standard 'victim's' formula of just criticizing the 'status quo', rather than offering reasonable alternatives or volunteering anything that could be useful.

But, maybe that's just my opinion, but I don't think so.

Everyone has their favorite issues, personalities and peeves, but one observation I have made is that many of those with the most negatives to say about these things won't lift a finger to actually get involved themselves.
Anybody else notice that?

How convenient it must be to always be in the position to criticize others, without otherwise burdening themselves with the hard work of running for office -or actually serving- themselves!
Armchair quarterbacks?
They are a dime a dozen, maybe even cheaper around here!

Having aired this view, I do feel a little better, but realize expressing it may likely just extend these unproductive exchanges.
But, maybe not.
Who cares?

That is the way it is in this country, and thank goodness for that!
If this were Somalia, or some other lawless wasteland, we would not have the time, inclination or opportunity for such public expressions of opinion.
But, even America may have its limits for such negativity, as we are beginning to see reflected in the mass media and militant partisanship and factionalism on any number of fringe issues.

Some people just want their way without compromise of any sort.
Others just want 'others' to take care of the hard work of governing, without their support -with the exception of being able to complain anytime and for any reason.
Does that sound reasonable?
It ain't reasonable, but it is the American way!

I'm glad there are people like the McShanes who are willing to get involved in local politics in tangible ways.
Every community must have such people in order for our system to work as it was intended.
Show me a community without political activists, willing candidates for office, and supportive working groups, and I will show you a community that is truly missing out on the 'juice' of democracy.

True Democracy was never intended to be a spectator sport!
Let's get off our butts and elevate the discussion about how we can achieve a process of continuous improvement in our local politics.
That will take much more than carping, complaining and standing in the shadows.
If not the McShanes, who?
Think about it.