-- Edward Abbey, author, essayist, and environmental advocate (1927-1989)
I posted this quote at the height of the 2008 election season. I bring it back now on the eve of the 2010 mid-term elections because it is still relevant. I am not, however, advocating a form of "tea party" patriotism. I use this as a warning that the "government" is not a monolithic entity. It is comprised of
- elected persons who are members of both major political parties
- candidates who are trying to become elected for the first time
- candidates who are trying to keep (or regain) political office
- lobbyists who work for, and against, parties and candidates
- think tanks who examine citizens' behavior and then attempt to mold it toward a certain purpose (without letting those same citizens know they are being subtly manipulated)
- members of the media who try to tell us what the government is doing, and sometimes chastise elected officials and candidates, even as they try to court favors and money from those very same officials (or promises from up-and-coming candidates)
- individual citizens who vote -- and voting is done directly at the polls as well as indirectly with every dollar a person spends or choice they make.
In 1970 (and again in 1971), Walt Kelly's Pogo used the quote "We Have Met The Enemy and He Is Us"[igopogo.com]. And if we can learn anything from Glenn Beck's Rally to Restore Honor, the tea party's rhetoric, the Sarah Palin experience, a rally to restore sanity, lefties ranting on HuffPo, and poorly-written protest signs, it's this: we all need to rise above our baser fears and desires, the very fears and desires that candidates stress and use against us.
Don't look to who is or isn't in office. Look to your own expectations of what government can or even should attempt. I'll bet your own ideas are at least half as crazy as the ones you hate.
Don't fear the unknown. Fear your own reactions to change. Sometimes growth is painful.
Don't fear or discount the past. Fear your own resistance to what wisdom can be found there. Some ideas might still be relevant today.
Do I sound like a moderate? Well, maybe. I am generally considered too Left for Republicans, and too Right for Democrats. But that's because I don't think any political party -- or single political movement -- has all the answers. I'm not sure they have some of the answers. George Washington even warned his fellow citizens about parties in his farewell address. If we think our Founding Fathers were so clever, and candidates try to invoke the Founders for support, why are we not heeding their advice?
Remember: All things in moderation -- including moderation. And vote! Use your head and your heart when casting your ballot. Don't blindly vote for a particular party, platform, or fear. Vote for a vision. Vote for the long term. We're all in this together. All of us.