I was wrong about the title of my last post

It’s funny how with blogging, as in life, planning ahead doesn’t necessarily mean things will go as planned. Like when I wrote my last post about saying enough already to the whole left/right thing, I already had its sequel in my head.

I was going to go back to the question I raised about whether people genuinely believe either of our two parties, if left to their own devices, was actually capable of solving our problems. I planned to highlight the goings-on in the Kansas legislature as a working example.

For those not familiar, up until this session Republicans in the Kansas legislature have been kowtowing to tax and spending cutting measures championed by conservative Governor Sam Brownback. We’re talking textbook Tea Party kind of stuff — Governor LePage kind of stuff.

The outcomes have been quite different than Brownback promised, and Republican legislators were forced to support tax and spending increases to try to stop the bleeding. I planned to link that failed experiment in ultra-conservatism in Kansas to the negotiations going on in the Maine Legislature regarding the state budget.

I wanted to use the comparison as part of a lecture about how Maine House Republicans would do well to take a hint from the Kansas situation and come to the negotiation table. It’s hard to understand what justifications that faction has for continuing to hold a hard line in support of our governor’s extreme right agenda.

Maybe that faction hasn’t been following the news in Kansas. Maybe its members drive different roads and bridges in Maine than I do — ones not in various states of disrepair. And maybe their children don’t attend schools starving for want of resources and maybe property taxes in their communities haven’t priced them out of home ownership.

Maybe seeing EMT’s tending to overdoses on the roadside in broad daylight isn’t commonplace where those particular House Republicans live. And maybe 1032 overdose deaths in four years isn’t a big deal given their perceptions.

It was going to be a pretty cutting lecture.

But then within hours of me getting that post into the system, the shooting in Alexandria, Virginia, happened. Then came the inevitable and sincere expressions of shock and grief from both sides of the aisle.

Then came the inevitable, but harder to swallow expressions of camaraderie from members of both sides of the aisle who haven’t been able to come together to solve basic problems for average Americans to save their souls for decades.

The hardest to swallow of all, though, were all the perspectives from the left, right and the media who love the divide between, about how all the heated rhetoric from both sides needs to stop. It’s hard to swallow because the left, the right and the media all have a stake in perpetuating that heated divide because it fuels the heated rhetoric.

Heated rhetoric is great for ratings and political fundraising. Focusing on the divide and its rhetoric keeps citizens distracted from the fundamental reality that the whole ‘two parties in control of everything’ thing is completely broken.

Focusing on the divide and its rhetoric keeps Americans from having an honest conversation about our elected officials choosing to put party politics above actually solving problems.

I realize that I was wrong about the title of my last post. It’s not time to say enough already to this whole left/right thing. It’s beyond being time and well into better late than never.

I received an interesting contact from a reader about that post. The reader said this was the first thing he’d seen by me that he could agree with and complimented me on the piece. Besides being humbled and grateful, the kind words prompted yet another of my epiphanies.

Maybe, if elected officials and the members of the media who drive our political discourse really want to bridge that divide they so love/hate, they can start focusing on the people who agree the two party system is broken.

Judging from my reader’s words as well as previous contacts, we’re a diverse bunch spanning a cross-section of socioeconomic factors, ideologies and value systems. That means we may be a bit like herding cats, but we’re ripe with a greater set of ideas and possible solutions than can be provided by two self-preservationist parties.

I’m guessing we’re a plurality, if not a majority that if paid attention to, could provide some fill for that divide. Maybe cut back a bit on the echo amplifying all the heated rhetoric.

Patricia Callahan

About Patricia Callahan

Trish is a writer who lives in Augusta. She has worked professionally in education and social services.