“There are nights when I think that Sal Paradise was right / Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together.” — Craig Finn, The Hold Steady
This blog is about important things — or at least I hope it will be.
I am one of those deluded souls who still think politics and public policy matter. I’m not naive. I understand that Washington is broken. I understand that our political conversation has been bankrupted by extremism on the left and right, powered largely by hyper-partisan blowhards on agenda-driven cable “news” networks. I realize why people have so much reason to despair — things are bad, and there’s not always much reason to believe they’ll get better any time soon.
I get all that, but I guess I just disagree. Call me crazy, but I believe that ultimately, even in our darkest hour, cooler heads can and will prevail. We have the ability to come together and solve hard problems — that’s what America has always been about. And sure, the problems we face today are certainly some of the toughest we’ve seen, but they’re also no more difficult than facing down a genocidal maniac hellbent on conquering the world.
We’ve seen worse. We’ve overcome worse.
Maybe the difference this time is that the problems come from within. This time we’ve got to vanquish our own demons and overcome ourselves. Again, this isn’t the first time this has happened — the civil rights movement comes readily to mind — but that doesn’t mean it’s not discouraging.
Over the next few years, we’ll have to grapple with a rash of difficult policy decisions that will define the future of our nation, and a toxic political climate to boot. To be certain, there will be plenty who will spend that time screaming rather than providing productive ideas. I refuse to be one of them.
And I guess, at it’s core, that’s what this blog is about — adding another sane, reasonable voice to the conversation, regardless of partisanship or ideology.
I am, admittedly, to the slight left of center on the political spectrum. I believe in capitalism, but I also believe that markets can be flawed. I believe there is a proper place for government in contemporary American society, but I also believe that role should be performed in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible.
But, most of all, I believe in America — who we are and who we can be. Sure, we may have our moments. We may yell at each other a lot. We may pay the Glenn Becks and Keith Olbermanns of the world entirely too handsomely for their unique brand of poison. But at the end of the day, regardless of all the hoopla that so often permeates our political climate, I believe the moderate majority of Americans (and, by extension, our elected representatives) will rise above the distractions and make the tough decisions necessary to move this country forward.
I have to believe that — because our history of doing so is far too long to be ignored and the alternative is far too grim.
Indeed, there are times when I think that Jack Kerouac’s Sal Paradise was right. Here in America, we do share some sad times — and this may well be one of them. But it hasn’t always been and it won’t always be that way. Together, we will figure it out. Things will get better, and this will continue to be the greatest and more prosperous country in the world.
That process starts with more than 300 million voices — including your voice and my voice. It starts with our decision to be reasonable and productive, to generate real ideas and share them in a respectful manner that can produce compromise and progress. It’s my prayer that this little blog can play some infinitesimally small part in that. I hope it can serve as a catalyst for stimulating thought and discussion amongst those who read it — and that you keep coming back for more.
After all, Sal Paradise may be right — but he doesn’t have to be.