Parties out of touch with reality

Len Harding
By Len Harding

Now that the election dust is settling and the shouting has died away, it is interesting to look back.

Our political parties are out of touch with reality and each other. Republicans are scrambling to figure out how to sell high risk to the elderly, permanent subservience to minorities and poverty to the poor. All those millions spent trying to convince the downtrodden that being downtrodden is the key to success just didn’t work. It was not unlike selling sainthood for Jane Fonda to a Vietnam Vet: not gonna happen.

Democrats do well when the R’s stick to their current ideals, but they won’t do as well should the R’s figure out how to distill the civic virtues of doing the right thing and being self-reliant from the sludge of racism and plutocratic self-dealing. Nobody asked if the D’s believed in compassion because the R’s made it so easy to appear compassionate. As I see it, D’s run against the R’s, and the R’s run against the D’s – but neither party has much of a plan for the future, let alone an understanding of where the future is headed. The D’s don’t quite grasp it, and the R’s make things up. We cannot ignore science, nor can we put all our faith in Mr. Spock.

Rational discussion just did not happen. People say they want to discuss things “rationally” and proceed to regurgitate TV slogans. One sees this in discussions about energy, religion, and taxes. Cheap energy is the lubricant for our lifestyle – there can be no serious discussion about energy policy without energy conservation.

Religion divides us in crazy ways. To insist that rules laid down in the late Stone Age govern all empirical inquiry condemns us to failure. No amount of religious obeisance will turn back a hurricane; religion should comfort us in the face of the harsh realities, not be used to stifle scientific inquiry.

As for taxes, no one likes them; but everyone enjoys benefits. We need to discuss the entire panoply of what taxes support, government pays for many things with our taxes, not just welfare and health care – remember: tax incentives, exemptions and deductions are benefits too.

Finally, it is obvious that electoral districting is not a settled issue. Statewide, Ohio chose Democrats for President and Senator, but Republicans kept control of state offices and the House of Representatives. It’s not rocket science. The Republican districting scheme keeps them in control even when they don’t get a majority of the vote.

The League of Women Voters tried to remedy this, but was shut down by politicians and by the complexity of the scheme.

Politicians will never support fair redistricting, but we can address complexity and still get a fair system; just do what sports leagues do: prohibit people from voting for teammates. Have Republicans choose Democratic members of a commission, and vice versa. Have the tie breaker chosen by an outside group, or by drawing cards if all else fails. That’s fairness in spades.

Len Harding is a retired consultant, technical writer and historian. He lives in Clermont County.