Contrasting British Politics With Ours.

On a recent trip to Scotland, I participated in a rally for Scottish independence…a Scotland independent of the United Kingdom. Although I strongly believe that outsiders should not be involved in local politics, I joined the march in support of my friends.

What I experienced was extraordinary.

The leaders of the Scottish independence movement were positive, upbeat and forward-thinking. Despite the fact that the people of Scotland have been underrepresented since the formation of the UK, there was no anger; no frustration on display. On the “telly,” there were reasoned discussions and debates. One evening, representatives of both sides debated the issues with facts and little emotion. The moderator interrupted on numerous occasions to ask a follow-up question or to challenge a viewpoint. Over the course of the debate, the viewers, and probably the participants, had a genuine opportunity to learn.

Now imagine something similar transpiring in the US.

Imagine if the so-called “Independent Republic of Texas” followed through on years of threats to secede from the US. Imagine the vitriol and anger. Imagine the rancor and misinformation that would dominate our media. Imagine the long list of talking points that would be “reported” by Fox News Channel, MSNBC and the rest of our mass media.
By the time the process was over, most of the rest of us would be ready to secede from each other.

In fact, we’re now experiencing incredibly high levels of vitriol over a much lesser issue…simple budget negotiations.

Now ask yourself, why? Are the citizens of Scotland and the UK really so very different from us? Why are Britons able to remain civil while debating issues of political import? Why can British reporters hold politicians accountable when our reporters can’t? Why are British elections held over a matter of weeks, while US elections are now perpetual? Why are millionaires, billionaires and corporations unable to secretly buy votes for British candidates, while they are allowed to own most US candidates and offices?

I don’t have the answers. But if we want this “grand experiment in democracy” to last, we better find some fast!

If Teapublicans Want To Be Taken Seriously, They Should Lose The Superiority Complex.

They need to stop claiming that they’re the only real patriots; stop pretending to be the only true protectors of liberty; stop wrapping themselves and their ideas in the US flag; stop quoting the Founding Fathers, at least until they read the Constitution – the whole Constitution – and stop believing that God has taken their side.

Most of all, they need to lose the anger and hate!

There are some important questions our nation needs to answer in our future. What should we expect of our government? What government programs are essential? Which ones can be cut? When does government become an intrusion into our lives? What should be the role of the US in the world? How much military spending is enough? How much is too much? What is the role of money in elections? How much influence should the wealthy and corporations be able to buy? What, if any, role should religion have in government? What can be done to keep ever more lethal weaponry out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill? What should be done with the millions of undocumented immigrants who are already in our country?

These are all legitimate questions that need to be answered. But we can’t have an honest debate as long as one side assumes that it has all the answers and, worse yet, that the other side has no place at the table.

Our government was founded to provide for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for our citizens. All of our citizens. Not those of one political party, ethnic group, race or religious belief.

The Founding Fathers argued intensely over the powers of our government. They debated their positions in the Federalist papers. Those on the side of a strong, central government won. As a result of the Framers’ decisions, our nation has had unparalleled success.

We should not hate our government or each other. We should debate loudly, but respectfully. The only ones who deserve our wrath are those who don’t vote and those who dismiss the views of others. That includes those who would hold our government hostage until they get their way!