Monday, December 10, 2007

Rediscovering America's Strength

This past weekend, Figgie (Figgins) and I had a few discussions about the 2008 Presidential Campaign. It seems that this campaign has already been going on forever and its not even 2008 yet. The election itself is still about 11 months away. Its all pretty new to Figgie though and while he hasn't registered to vote, he has seemed pretty keenly interested.

Our level of interest seemed to ramp up over the weekend, as a result of media focus on a certain "Celebrity Endorsement." This isn't a topic that generally carries much weight with me. However, Oprah Winfrey was at the center of this and though neither Figgie nor I are fans, we recognize her unique celebrity status. The factor that stirred my interest most was that she wasn't just lending her name, as an endorsement for a candidate, she actually showed up at a few campaign events to say why. So, we tuned in.

I ended up telling Figgie that I was disappointed with what I heard. Generally, there were comments about need for change, followed by the name of the candidate she is endorsing, as the preferred change-agent. This is a theme I've heard countless times, for numerous candidates (both real and fictitious), since before I was old enough to vote. What I didn't hear was much substance about the need for change or details of the "something better" we need to change to or specifics of plans for accomplishing these improvements.

So, there we were, with our interests stimulated but not gratified. What were we to do? Well, the first step was pretty obvious ... we needed to face the fact that, going into it, we knew better than to expect much from a celebrity endorsement. And, frankly, we had to admit that our critique of the event was pretty obvious and easy. Those steps taken, we decided to check a source with a track record of fulfillment for us, when it comes to political observation ... Charles Krauthammer ... a Syndicated Columnist who, when I see him on TV, I spontaneously shout, "My hero!"

To my astonishment, we came away from reading Krauthammer's column for this past Friday, in The Washington Post, with a sense of disappointment too. His comments were about one Presidential Candidate's Evangelical Christianity and how he had used that to "manipulate" another candidate into having to discuss his Mormonism. As usual, Krauthammer expressed his views intelligently and interestingly but, at the end of it all, he just pitted one candidate against another, based on their differences.

But then it struck us! Ironically, we realized that "My hero", Charles had actually come through. He had pointed us in the right direction by pitting one candidate against another. We realized ... that's what they all do. Regardless of the forum, its Democrat against Republican, Left against Right and Pro versus Con on: abortion, energy, environment, immigration, Iraq, taxes and pretty much any issue you can think of. How does that make us better? I don't think that's what led to our success, as a nation, in the first place. At the outset we pitted ourselves against Britain to gain our independence but we didn't do it just one person's way. I seem to recall that we drew on the best of the differing ideas of those we now honor as our Patriots ... John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, George Washington, etc. These were all very different guys. Where would we be if all they did was pit themselves against each other, based on their differences? ... In a place where there is only a Union Jack and no Old Glory, that's where! ... So, why is it that that's all we do today? Although Oprah didn't persuade me to support her guy, I'd bet that he does have some good ideas and that he, genuinely, wants to do his part to better our nation. Likewise with both the Evangelical Christian and the Mormon. As a matter of fact, that's probably true of all the current mainstream candidates. So, why is it that not one of them seems to have the courage to offer what we do need ... not just change but leadership, with a vision aligned with the beliefs of the majority and with the common sense to embrace the superior ideas of others, even if the "others" are political opponents. Now there's the candidate I'm looking for! One who can lead us to rediscovering the strength that made America great in the first place ... the synergy of the best of our differing ideas.

After basking for a few moments, in the illumination of the "Aha moment" we'd had, it occurred to me that I'd recently heard a similar point of view. As I reflected on this, I realized it was what I'd heard about a new book called Common Ground - How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America., by Cal Thomas and Bob Beckel. If these two, literally, political polar-opposites have come to this conclusion too, we're more encouraged, we must be on to something!

As a relative newcomer to considering Presidential politics, this all seemed to be a bit convoluted for Figgie. But I sensed it was sinking in and beginning to comfort him. As soon as we came to today's conclusion, he wandered off to one of his favorite spots ... the living room couch. There, he was able to look out and enjoy the sunny, though chilly, mid-December day. No doubt, it was that comforting view, along with the enlightened vision, resulting from our examination of today's topic, that had him peacefully snoozing in no time. I was thankful he could do that so easily. He is such a good listener but I know that takes a lot out of him.

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