Weather Forecast


Common Currency: 'Petulance has replaced governance' at capitals

Alan Zemek

"What we have here is a failure to communicate." I hope Minnesotans and the American people take this message to both political parties during the next election cycle.

By virtue of my wanderings through the political landscape and having made contributions to candidates of both parties over the years, I now receive frequent e-mail solicitations from fundraisers on both sides, with regular updates on the evil, nefarious and diabolical doings of the enemy. Both sides are beginning to win the argument, but not perhaps in the way they think.

According to these fanatical fundraisers, Republicans are sadistic, cruel and have no virtue. Democrats are morally bankrupt, corrupt and have no honor. At least this is what the fundraisers would like me to believe.

This is the way Americans talk to each other now? This is the message that is supposed to make me open my wallet and send in money to support a cause? It's exasperating. The heck with all of them, I say.

I am not sure when petulance replaced governance as a political strategy for holding on to power, but it is a disgrace. Maybe it has something to do with the first generation of elected officials raised on "self esteem" instead of self-respect.

Honestly, there is something ridiculous and childish about political candidates signing pledges for this cause or that, like 10-year-old Cub Scouts. How about the only pledge that matters - to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, including upholding the full faith and credit of the government's obligations?

Apparently, professional political operatives still believe the way you raise money and win elections is by driving up your opponent's "negatives" through personal vilification. Need more money? Accuse your opponent of kicking the neighbor's dog, yeah, like that is so inspiring. Vote for me because my opponent hates cats. What a great vision for the country!

I am still holding out for the "grand bargain," a historic breakthrough in the budget talks that fundamentally encompasses the structure of public spending, with both tax increases and entitlement reforms as part of the deal, because I believe that is where the political "center" of the country is.

I also believe that in the absence of a historic budget reform deal, this "failure to communicate" could very well result in the first truly viable third party candidate in 2012. If the budget talks fail to produce a deal, both sides will blame the other, but I think they will all go down together.

So, here is a message that should be communicated loud and clear. Do your job. Compromise and cut a deal. And if you can't, we the people will vote you out as unfit for office.

Alan J. Zemek is a Park Rapids area developer and author of "Generation Busted: How America Went Broke in the Age of Prosperity." You can follow his blog, or comment on this article on his website, www.genera tion