A Wonderland of Wedge Issues

“Madness is rare in individuals – but in groups, political parties, nations, and eras it’s the rule.”
—Friedrich Nietzsche
“We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values.
For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.”
—John F. Kennedy
—Margaret Chase Smith

“My creed is that public service must be more than doing a job efficiently and honestly. It must be a complete dedication to the people
and to the nation with full recognition that every human being is entitled to courtesy and consideration, that constructive criticism is
not only to be expected but sought, that smears are not only to be expected but fought, that honor is to be earned, not bought.”
The Bush Administration’s spin masters have struck again. One week before Americans go to the polls, Senator John Kerry has been used to distract us from the real issues – as if our obsession with Madonna’s adopting an African baby wasn’t distraction enough.
The latest news doesn’t involve nuclear weapons, genocide or the depletion of natural resources. It is Senator Kerry’s fantastic faux pas – his “botched joke.” Kerry told a group of California students that individuals who don’t study hard and do their homework would likely “get stuck in Iraq.” According to his aides, the senator’s speech was originally written as “you end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq.” In that context, it was clear that Kerry was referring to Bush, not the troops.
No doubt, Kerry could use some pointers from the President on how to tell a joke. On the other hand, the President could use some tips from Kerry on how to articulate a coherent sentence. Both men should be focused on issues far more relevant to the lives of average Americans than who made the last boneheaded remark.
The senator intended to take a pot shot at the Administration’s collective draft avoidance (in Vietnam) and lack of military experience. In this respect, he hit the mark. No one in this Administration has ever seen combat.
Maybe he botched the joke because he’s still angry about letting those “cowboys” turn his Vietnam record into a series of swift-boat jokes.
Kerry stepped on his own pile of vengeance, and reaped the rewards. I’ll bet he won’t be going to see the Denzel Washington movie De?ja? Vu. Instead he may opt for the Butterfly Effect, so he can take another crack at his comedy routine, and achieve the desired outcome – a laugh that provokes some deep thinking.
This deep thinking might cause people to consider electing:
• • • •
Representatives who are honest and straightforward. Candidates who will not send our boys to Iran on a whim. People who will help make the world less dangerous. Someone who will finally complete the federal “rescue” of New Orleans.
As thing stand, we are falling deeper into a “wonderland” of irrelevant wedge issues – issues perpetuated by politically cynical Mad Hatters. (In Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter is the leader of a perpetual tea time. The story’s characters live in this permanent tea time because they believe that time itself has stopped.) Indeed, time does seem to have stopped with regard to the last few elections.
Every cycle brings forth candidates focused on seemingly timeless “Culture War” issues that may never be resolved, but can be endlessly debated (provided you define “debate” as name-calling and mudslinging).
Yes, people differ; their experiences differ, and thus their opinions differ. But the bottom line is that we must move past our differences, and find enough common ground to address our larger problems. So let’s stop the Kerry bashing, and elect Congressional representatives that will at least attempt to solve real problems. I, for one, would like to bring our soldiers home and clean up the Iraqi mess – perhaps with a little help from our international friends. Iraq is costing American taxpayers billions of dollars, taking hundreds of thousands of lives, and has knocked us off the moral high ground we once held.
For once, I would like to see candidates actually debate the real problems without the whole thing becoming personal. I’d like to see someone to develop actual plans to address alternative energy, global warming and health care. (Of course, if you’d prefer to live on a boiling planet populated by bullet-ridden corpses, then by all means, continue doing business as usual.)
We need real leaders in our Congress and the President’s office – people willing to tackle the tough issues. Forget the Iraq photo-ops. Find a way to get the U.S. out of there.
I would like to hear just one politician say, “I am going to help you make your life, your family’s life and your community better” and then actually attempt to do it. Every candidate must vow to represent all the people in his/her district regardless of party affiliation. We need officials whose motto is: I AM INTERESTED IN MY CONSTITUENTS’ INTERESTS NOT “SPECIAL” INTERESTS.
In sum, we need fewer Mad Hatters. But the only way to send them packing is for Americans to poke their heads out of Wedge Wonderland and realize that time is not standing still. It’s running out.

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