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A Political Wish List for 2012
By Damon Circosta
Published: Dec. 20, 2011
RALEIGH - With the holidays upon us, here is an open letter to St. Nick with a few wishes for 2012.
I know you are busy making toys for the kids and spreading cheer throughout the land. But just like all those girls and boys writing you letters, our politics are also in need of a Christmas miracle. Like any form of government, our democracy is capable of being both naughty and nice, but as we head into a pivotal election year we could really use some of your magic.
I wish that we North Carolinians will handle our newly anointed status as a “battleground state” with some dignity. Let’s aim higher than Florida in 2000 or Ohio in 2004. We can be in the spotlight without acting like a bunch of buffoons. There is going to be a lot of energy focused here in 2012. Let’s hope it produces more light and less heat.
I wish that Congress would quit acting like petulant children. Many of us have irascible toddlers at home and don’t need them in the Capitol. Outside of the cable news industry and a few hundred people in Washington, D.C., none of us care who scores political points.
I wish that our politicians would get their loyalties straight. Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat, once remarked to Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican, “I am a free man first, an American second, a senator third and a Democrat fourth, in that order.” It seems like our current crop of leaders have their list entirely backwards.
I wish that you could help us find a way to motivate voters that doesn’t involve fear, anger or division. Grainy, unflattering photos and a bunch of half-truths about the opposing candidate sent to my mailbox don’t spread holiday cheer. Not only are such political tactics distasteful, but in the long run they are extremely destructive.
I wish that Election Day were also a national holiday, allowing more of us to vote. We could use the rest of that first Tuesday in November to get a jump on what has now become a two-month-long marathon holiday season.
I wish we would quit canonizing the Founding Fathers. Should we really care what George Washington would think about health-care exchanges or TSA regulations? He thought applying leeches was good medicine and never once saw an airplane. The genius of the framers was that they realized that any rigid system was doomed to fail. They set up a process of governing that emphasized practicality, not pedantry.
I wish that we would take an earnest look at the fact that when people decide to engage in politics they do so now not as adherents to one political party, but more often as unaffiliated or independent voters. The holiday beverage world may be neatly divided into two categories: people who like eggnog and people who hate eggnog. Politics is not so cut and dry. There is room for more than either-or decisions.
I wish we would be more inclusive when it comes to voting. Fewer polling places, shorter voting periods and more burdensome voting requirements mean fewer of us will vote. We should do everything we can to encourage participation, even among those with whom we disagree.
It’s a tall order, Santa. Happy Holidays.