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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

ARE YOU ANGRY ENOUGH TO FORGET WHAT’S IMPORTANT?

Apparently, there is a lot of anger abounding out there.

*  Some are angry about unemployment
*  Some are angry about housing foreclosures
*  Some are angry about government size
*  Some are angry about deficit spending
*  Some are angry about illegal immigration
*  Some are angry about government intervention
*  Many are angry about political party dithering
*  Many are angry about the failures of institutions - both public and private
*  Many are angry at Wall Street and BP
*  Many are angry about government’s inability to solve societal problems and needs:  jobs, poverty, better education, dependence on oil, climate change, etc.

There is nothing wrong with anger in itself.  It is a valid emotion.  What really matters is how we use our anger.  Anger can be the path to destruction, or a stimulus to newness, or something that ends up creating immobilization and inability to act.

Just how angry are you?  Angry enough to jettison all reason, to do something stupid just to make a point, or to get back at the “powers that be”, or to “throw the bums out.”   It’s time to address this question because soon it will be time for elections, and elections are a mechanism for expressing opinions, and needs, and desires.  However, just expressing anger through one’s vote is probably not very useful.  Think about it. 

For instance, are you angry enough to throw out all incumbents?  The real question is: what do you get in their place?  Unfortunately, you immediately get another incumbent!  Someone who may be more power-hungry, greedy, and unresponsive than the last “incumbent”. To vote against someone is not as responsible as voting for someone who demonstrates an ability to make a difference in your life and the life of your community.  We must, above all, take the measure of the abilities of each candidate, and not simply be led to vote for anyone out of anger - yours or theirs.  We must question their views and not just accept slogans and “talking points” and negative campaign techniques.  What does each candidate offer in depth toward the solutions to the problems that affect you the most?  Voting for what you think they might do once in office cannot substitute for making them indicate clearly what they want to do, expect to do, and know that they can do. 

Are you angry enough to vote simply to throw out a particular Party in order to balance and check the power of another party? It rarely works, but often leads to worse inaction and gridlock.  One of the things you must know in order to vote responsibly is to what principles are candidates committed because of their Party affiliation?!!  Why?  Because once in office, those same candidates who ran “against Washington” or “against Albany” or “against the establishment”, are going to become an integral part of that establishment, and their Party leaders will not only be expecting them to adhere to party ideology and principles, but to vote the Party line more often than not. 

The concept of the political “maverick” is pretty much a myth.  John McCain is proving it right now, Scott Brown is not doing much better, and the newly elected Governor of Virginia already has his problems because he expressed some negative aspects of his party’s views.   Politicians have declared their “independence” at times, but remain “team players” even though they may not always vote with their Party.   Watch out when you vote for Party mavericks or independents-- you will get outcomes that you didn’t expect because they will mainly uphold their Party’s principles once in office.  Therefore, be sure of the “brand” for which you are voting:  will they pretty much support Wall Street and breaks for Big Business, or for the Middle class and Labor Union issues?  Will they be supporting privatization of government programs, or programs under government control and administration?  Will they support tax cuts for the richest members of society, or targeted tax cuts and incentives for the middle class?  Will they favor private entities to solve societal problems like poverty or need for jobs, or will they favor government programs to do that?  Will they support war as a major way of solving problems with other nations, or support other less bellicose means like negotiations and alliances?  Check the “brand” carefully before voting. 

And finally, be careful to know who is supporting each candidate.  Where is their financing coming from?  To whom are they beholden?  Who wants their ear for their own ends and not yours?  Who has supported their third party ads?  These are sometimes the most telling questions because the answers are very revealing as to what they will do as office-holders, and whose “agenda” they will support once in office.  Campaign financing is often the “dirty little secret” that tells an unwelcome truth about a candidate: for whom she or he may be the mouthpiece, the puppet, the surrogate.

So, tune out the rhetoric; forget the negative ads; eschew the empty slogans, and use your anger in a constructive way.  Examine the “brand” (party ideology) represented by each candidate; find out what changes they will support in office; make sure to discover who gives them financial support.  Then vote responsibly!