Midland Daily News, January 18, 2004
Does this mean that politics is above the human tendency to make mistakes? Not at all. In fact, because politics is public, "political mistakes" are more noticeable than in other aspects of life, especially personal life.
One of the great characteristics of our American way of life is the freedom of individuals to engage in almost any activity, as long as they don't harm others. In the large sense, this means that an individual can set up his/her own business to sell products or some service.
This freedom also means we can worship as we choose. It means I can speak out on issues that concern me, as I am doing in this article. These rights are protected by the First Amendment. That Amendment also guarantees the right to freedom of the press and freedom to assemble, i.e. protest or support publicly in a group a particular position on an issue.
Many provisions of the U S Constitution resulted from compromise, not from a dogmatic or self-righteous position. The founders compromised on the powers of government by establishing three branches and a bicameral Congress. They compromised on slavery. Compromise flows from open dialog and debate.
Open dialog and debate must be encouraged and entered into by all citizens in order to keep our democracy strong - even in the midst of terrorist threats.
This Constitution is lived out in politics. We elect our people at all levels of government to make decisions for the overall good. In doing so, debate ensues because people don't agree. And so they must compromise. Compromising is not necessarily a mistake.
Not all agree on the Bush tax cut,
for example, or the new Medicare plan, or the way
One area that generally has not
involved debate and compromise in recent years has been foreign policy, because
the issues were clear: the security and defense of the
President Bush changed the focus
of our foreign policy without debate and compromise. Essentially, he thinks
that what is good for the
This change in policy, however,
has resulted in thousands of deaths and injuries not only to Americans but
innocent Iraqi people and others. And it was done without a debate because we
citizens tend to stand by our President when it comes to foreign affairs. There
was also no debate because the Bush administration obfuscated the issue by
telling Congress and the people
Going to war against
Voting is very much a political action. In this election year, let us listen to the candidates for President and look more carefully at all the issues, but especially foreign policy issues. Can we afford to ignore the rest of the world? Can we afford to snub our allies? Can we afford to be arrogant in our dealings with other nations? Can we afford four more years of George Bush? Whether your answer is "yes" or "no", the answer is politics. And whether you agree with the implications raised in this article or not, discussion and debate about them are essential to making democracy work.