Putting politics in proper perspective

Published 8:33am Wednesday, October 2, 2013

By Rev. Jonathan Yarboro

Greetings from the corner of Bridge and Bridge! I am hurrying to get this column finished before the impending government shutdown causes the Internet to crash. OK, so I know that won’t happen, but you never can be too cautious.

I don’t know about you, but I am growing weary of the circus the political process in our country has become. It seems that every day there is a new example of how ridiculously out of hand things are. Trickle-down idiocy is the apparent rule of the day.

I am concerned less about the substance of the current debates than I am the overall tone of the entire process. In my observation, our country has continued to speed recklessly down the “my way or the highway” path since at least the 1990s. I doubt my observations are unique.

During the most recent Bush presidency, many Democrats spent an inordinate amount of time trying to discredit the work of the president all in the name of protecting our country’s heritage, power and reputation. Many Republicans have returned that favor by opting for an identical tactic with President Obama. In reality, these actions betray our country’s heritage, power and reputation.

Our nation needs the perspective of conservatives. Likewise, it needs the perspective of liberals. Hard-liners play a crucial role in our political process, but without moderates to keep both sides at the table, the whole thing implodes. Moderates do more than keep the peace. Their presence facilitates legislation aimed at improving the quality of life for everybody.

If our nation is controlled by moderates alone, little real progress will be made. If our nation is controlled by any hard-line group, regardless of its agenda, any changes made will likely benefit only a portion of the citizenry. The government of our country was not designed to be dominated by any one mindset; at the individual or corporate level.

Our system of government was built and engineered with bipartisan collaboration as a given. I can only imagine how bewildered and disgusted our founders would be with the way our system of government has evolved. Our political process was not built on the foundation of one side winning or losing. It was built on the sharing of ideas and consensus building before moving forward.

I, for one, am embarrassed by the behavior of the executive and legislative branches of our government in the past decade and a half. I see more lines drawn in the sand than lines of communication. I see more personal attacks and calls for impeachment than across the aisle conversation and mutual support on common ground.

What we need is for true statesmen to rise above the fracas and remind our elected officials what it means to serve. Our federal government needs to put special interest in its proper place, limit its time with lobbyists and make more time for engaging its citizenry. We the people need to start holding our elected officials accountable for doing anything less.

I am talking about mutual respect, and that is a character trait that cannot be claimed by any political party or political action group. We once were a nation of respectful people. I would argue we still are. I am afraid we have simply forgotten how to do it.

What can you do to help us as a nation remember and reclaim mutual respect as a priority? Think about it.

The Rev. Jonathan Yarboro is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Wetumpka.

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