Debate Magazine


By Kelly058

A quote from Patrick Paulsen's comedy album during his fictitious race for the White House in 1968. What was considered comedy in 1968 has unfortunately become reality in today's political climate. We no longer debate--noun, "a formal discussion on a particular topic in which opposing arguments are put forward."--but instead scream, insult, oversimplify, and ultimately ignore the issue at hand. The issues we face are now weapons to be turned against others instead of problems to be solved. We only seem interested in belittling those who do not agree with us. I am not interested in participating in today's political culture.

I have tried to engage the community on Facebook, online, radio, and in the print media; but in the current climate of political "dialogue" efforts to engage in meaningful discussion is getting drowned out. So I am going to try and create a small oasis of sanity and go back to blogging. I hope that like minded individuals--regardless of beliefs and political affiliations-- will stop by from time to time to have a real, indepth discussion on the issues we face and actually look for solutions. If not, we can agree to disagree which is a step in the right direction.

I have included links to local boards and commissions, as well as our state representatives. I hope you will take the opportunity to visit these sites to learn more about our region and those who represent us. I have also linked to some of my previous posts the decision making process. I am re-launching Question Everything with a previous post which touches on what I see as a big problem in discussing any issue the politics of oversimplification......................
This region is facing some difficult challenge. We are the fourth largest, fastest growing region in the Commonwealth. How are we going to deal with growing demands on our transportation system? How are we going to ensure that future development can be sustained and support a quality of life we expect? How do we deal with funding cuts from state and federal sources? Should local government expect more authority from the state in dealing with these issues? These are some of key question that need to be answered.

It is unfortunate that we have become a "sound bite" society. Complex questions like those above are now condensed into a single phrase of twenty-five word or less with the focus on politics rather than policy. Phrases chosen more to rally the faithful , or scare a constituency, rather than working towards solutions. If we are to successfully deal with the challenges we face we need elected officials who are prepared to present their vision  and how to achieve it in more than a sound bite.
"No new taxes," or, "We just need to cut wasteful spending," are neither visions nor plans. Nor are the now common refrains, "We need to stop evil developers," or, "development must pay for itself." If we are serious about jobs, our children's education, our family's safety , and our future quality of life we cannot allow these statement to go unquestioned.
If there are to be no new taxes then we must question how services and education are to be maintained? If the answer is we can cut wasteful spending then where will the cuts come from and how much? If you are prepared to stand by such a pledge you should be expected to know exactly how to achieve it. Finally, how do you see the locality developing over the next 20 years under such a policy?
If we are to stop the evil developers then how are we going to provide higher paying jobs? How are we going to deal with the growth pressures in the region? If the response is we will make development pay for itself than the question is how will that impact the cost of a house or the square foot cost for commercial development? What will be the impact on the localities future tax base? And again, how do you see the locality developing under such a policy over the next 20 years?
For every campaign promise, made by a candidate, regardless of party affiliation, they must be prepared to answer how a particular proposal will be achieved and how it fits in their long term vision for the locality. No matter the issue, or the promise made, if a candidate cannot get beyond the sound bite they bring nothing to the table that will help either their locality or this region in dealing with the challenges we face.
In my twelve years on the City Council I cannot claim credit for any of the achievements that have been made. The river easement, the construction of new schools and recreational facilities, business recruitment , all required at least (3) other votes to bring them to reality. Being able to work with other elected officials is an important aspect of the job.
At this juncture we cannot afford more political posturing to embarrass the other side, be obstructionist hoping it will affect the outcome of the next elections, or stick a finger in the air and try to guess which way the political wind is blowing. As localities, and as a region, we do not have the luxury of time in dealing with the transportation, development, and quality of life issues we now face.
How an elected official secures those three votes to move his plans forward is just as important as the plans themselves. Is it an all or nothing approach or is there a willingness to accept less if that is all that can be achieved under the current circumstances. One thing I have learned in governance is that getting from point "A" to point "B" is seldom achieved by the most direct route.
For the sake of not only the future quality of life of the region I hope to see a rebellion against sound bite politics and the beginning of a reasoned and spirited dialog on a shared vision for the future. 

I am ready to discuss any issues you wish to discuss. Comments, questions, criticisms welcome. 

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