Mountain Valley Morning by Cole ScottWe had dinner with friends last night. They are our closest friends in N.H. and we are at opposite ends of the political spectrum which is often a topic of discussion among us. We don't avoid politics but we don't necessarily seek to discuss them. However, the topic of the current administration arose last night before dinner. My friend's husband asked me
"What do you think of the current administration now?" His tone betrayed his irritation.
I'd had a couple of glasses of wine so I wasn't clear headed but I responded
"I don't think there's been enough time to tell yet."
I listened to him denounce the bank bailout, the economy, proposed health care reform and the other usual suspects. I politely disagreed citing facts such as Bush setting up the TARP program, the economy tanking two years ago (the recession officially began in '07) and so on. I threw in the repeal of Glass Steagall Act under Clinton, the implementation of NAFTA, deregulation under Reagan and Bushes I and II. I referenced facts I'd researched for my blog Women of A Certain Age and the post I'd written on this topic.
While I was pleased to have these tidbits at my fingertips, I knew they'd make no difference in his thinking just as his opinions make no difference to mine. He eventually did say he feels that all politicians are just that: politicians. He is losing faith in the system. He sounded despairing of significant changes for the better.
My husband is feeling much the same way about one of our congressional representatives, Carol Shea Porter, because she has approved stimulus spending on road projects in our area that epitomize wasteful government spending.
In thinking over the conversation this morning, I realize how polarized we have become and why it interferes with the necessary decision-making required to make changes the country so desperately needs. Ongoing discussion and a willingness to listen are critical to overcoming bipartisanship. If the politicians are indeed nothing more than that, it's up to us, their constituents, to demand more from them, to make them accountable. We cannot do that by "dropping out" but by "tuning in" to "what's goin' on", that is, if we really care.