An Open Letter to All Politicians

As Election Day just passed, it seemed like an appropriate time to engage in expressing some widely shared sentiment about the state of our country and the equally alarming state of its leadership.

Personally, I don’t identify myself or my political beliefs by party affiliation.  I have no t-shirts identifying myself with the letter “D” or the letter “R” (ok, I have a couple with a D on them but it has nothing to do with politics).  I don’t pay particular attention to whether I live in a “red” state or a “blue” one (it actually changes colors from time to time).  I have no real preference for donkeys or elephants (I do, however, notice that the things they leave behind have a lot in common).  When Facebook asked my political affiliation, I chose the “Common Sense Party”.  Why would Facebook care about this?  There’s hardly anything more amusing than watching friends argue politics to the point of exhaustion on the almighty public forum that is Facebook.  It’s not nearly as amusing as it is frightening that politics has become religion in this country, complete with blind devotion and intolerance.

Thanks to a busy life, I know a lot of people.  All different kinds of people.  Business owners, bankers, attorneys and accountants.  Health care workers.  Government employees.  Pastors.  Factory workers, artists, engineers, maintenance workers.  People that are unemployed, and people surviving on public assistance.  Students, teachers and school administrators.  Public safety workers.  It’s really a pretty diverse cross section when you think about it.  And yet, most of us have some things in common with regard to politics and our government.

We’re pissed.  We’re disgusted.  We’re fed up.

Most of our politicians long since forgot the reasons they were elected, but instead have succumbed to the siren’s songs of tenure, rank and power.  Time that should be spent doing the nation’s business is instead spent posturing for television cameras and other media in an inane fashion in order to build personal brands, attract contributions, and jockey for position within their own parties. 

The one with the most face time wins, right?  Wrong.  We all lose.

The overwhelming quest for attention, advancement and re-election has trumped the idea of doing their elected jobs well.  There’s no excuse for not approving the federal budget on time for most of the past 35 years.  There’s also no excuse for not raising the debt ceiling this past August until the last possible moment.  It seems that the upcoming fiscal reform deadline is destined for the same fate.  There’s no excuse for delaying the more difficult decisions until 2013 and beyond.  A responsible budget policy?  No.  A coordinated manufacturing policy?  Nowhere in sight.  Immigration reform?  No.  Meaningful campaign finance reform?  Keep dreaming.

Common sense is apparently out of our reach for the foreseeable future. 

Is it any wonder that we now have a generation (an entire generation!) that doesn’t really see the value in voting?  Is it any wonder that we’ve seen the emergence of groups like the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street? 

The dissatisfaction of most people I know is already palpable and still growing.  Most of us are ordinary people, people that would prefer to concentrate on things in our lives OTHER than politics.  And yet we can’t because the dysfunction in the current system is very close to leaving us no alternative but to become much MORE involved.

Arab Spring should be a cautionary tale for our nation’s leaders.  If our elected representatives won’t fix the system, then ordinary people will have no choice but to fix it ourselves.

Thanks for reading – this was cathartic.

Bryan Peters

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