Keep Trying

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

The Great Divide

Karl Martino who has a lot of good links on the political divide in America has this advice for John Kerry:

A message for Kerry: The way to win is by appealing to all Americans that we are better then this. That we can beat the terrorists. That there are no good reasons for America to have lost the trust of the rest of the world. That fear does not need to rule the day. That together we will win. United we will fall. The politics of division serve only those currently power. It is a message that deep down inside, all of us know. Bush used this message against Gore. He will attempt to claim this ground against you. Have your supporters tear down the other candidate (watch the Bush support team and Bush himself and note the differences in their tactics) while you rise above the fray and show optimism and faith in our people (as Bush attempts to do - however poorly - I know you can do better). Explain how you know things are bad, that things can get better, and show us the way.

I'm not sure I agree with everything Karl says but I have been reading and corresponding with Karl for over two years and I believe that his vision of a unified America (and World) is the direction we need to go. However, John Kerry does not seem capable of being the leader we need to unite the country. As Karl points out, one of the major tasks confronting us is reducing the real damage caused by terrorism. This is not an imaginary fear, but a real threat that needs to be addressed. Right now it seems that Bush has the only potentially workable plan on the table and I think that the swing-voting Americans sense this and will give Bush a second term.

Karl points to this article in Online Journalism Review - Is the Net Polarizing U.S. Political Dialogue:

The Internet is seething with political vitriol, with so many partisan message boards, niche political sites and Weblogs. But the public's taste for ideological journalism might be more for theater than for closing itself to opposing viewpoints.

David Weinberger recently blogged about a speech his was giving at the FieldWorks Technology Politics Summit. He concludes his entry/speech with these words:

That is, we are taking the country back not just from the lobbyists, corporations and Republicans. We're taking it back from the campaign marketers. We're taking it back from our own alienation. And that's a good thing.

Dave Rogers comments on this:

May I offer a dissenting opinion? No, it's not a "good thing." If anything, it's perpetuating the very condition that it seeks to correct.

Here's a quick disclaimer: This is an easy trap to fall into, and I do it all the time because it feels so good when I do. And pointing this out isn't a lot of fun for me, as much as I enjoy letting the air out of over-inflated, misconstrued and confused notions issued by members of the digerati.

Nobody is taking anything "back."

"Our" country, belongs to each of us, not just the people who happen to agree with us politically.

Asserting that we're taking it "back" is at the same time asserting that somehow it has been taken "from" us, and that is simply not the case. Authority may have been "taken" from us, (more likely, we "lost" it) but the country sure hasn't. But it's much less emotionally satisfying, much less dramatic, to assert that we want to take authority away from the people and groups that have it.

I often ask David, who is an extremely friendly, likable and caring individual, why he often feels it necessary to include in his insights a message of rage, contempt and division. Is politics by its nature divisive or is our practice of it the problem? It's probably very difficult to consistently practice non-divisional politics, but maybe it's worth a try.