I think I've been one of the very few people I know to remain silent about the debacle going on in the Wisconsin state capitol thus far, but as a fellow blogospherite, I feel like I should give my two cents.
Shameful. I can't sum up the situation any better. Scott Walker's unyielding insistence on pushing what seems to me to be a highly personal agenda, particularly the part that strips union workers of their collective bargaining rights, strikes me as almost...evil. But Democrats' undermining of the democratic process, personal attacks on Walker, and equal refusal to negotiate are no more impressive.
The fiasco is an outstanding example of the polarization I've been seeing in the political scene ever since I became old enough to follow it. Democracy was (and continues to be, on small scales) a process that took a nation of widely differing views and distilled them into decisions that, while not always smart or agreeable, worked well enough to get America through some pretty intense history. Today, there's not much going on in government that I would call "decision". Just imagine if a world war were happening today. Or an impending meteor strike.
At some point in the past 60 or so years, political debate turned into argument and outright strife, and opposing viewpoints became opposing sides in an idealogical war. Listening to other views took a back seat to being right, and talking to like-minded people who are also right. There is an incredibly pervasive "us vs. them" mentality in state and federal politics. Political parties no longer seek to merely influence policy according to their platforms, but to gain total control. Being an amateur commentator, I can only speculate on why. I suspect the culture of the internet and its serving as a medium for debate have contributed. (PoliSci/Sociology majors: senior thesis! Credit me!)
If, as I suspect, I'm not making my point clear enough, the situation in Madison speaks much more clearly. Both sides have repeatedly shown a complete unwillingness to negotiate: Republicans by sticking to their guns and continuing to try to push Walker's legislation through, and Democrats by filling (and fleeing) the capitol in protest. I would expect this kind of behavior from children arguing over whose toy is whose, not grown adults and elected officials.
So, readers, I urge you to take a step back. Look at where all this partisanship has gotten us. Stop blindly supporting your chosen side and think for yourself. Realize that maybe, just maybe, you might not be entirely right. Talk to someone with a different ideology and really listen. An open mind needs to be cultivated and actively maintained, but it is one of the most valuable things in life.
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