Make political debate, not war

  • Posted: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 12:01 a.m.

I was most disappointed to open the Nov. 12 Post and Courier and see along the top banner of the first page, and again in the title of the lead story in the state and local section, and yet again as a direct quote in the text of the article by the most senior member of South Carolina’s House delegation the words, “This is war,” in reference to the state’s gubernatorial election rematch expected to occur next November.

This is not war. Nor should it be.

War is where we send brave young Americans to fight and bleed and, far too frequently in the last decade, to be maimed or killed while confronting those who would wish to do us harm. War is an all-in, “us against them” endeavor, to be unleashed only when all lesser means to protect our interests have failed.

“War” should not be a term of art we attach to our politics, even when we find ourselves sharply divided on important issues. The fringes at both extremes of our political spectrum, the libertarian lugnuts and the socialist wingnuts, are drowning out all the other voices, including too frequently the voices of reason.

Their histrionics are showcased by a 24-7 media that eagerly promotes high decibel confrontation and outrageous statements. Because neither the lugnuts nor the wingnuts can command a majority of public support, their actions have turned our political process into little more than a name-calling, rock-throwing stalemate that is disgusting to watch on a good day and downright embarrassing to watch on not-so-good days.

I don’t want my leaders fighting (and re-fighting) “win-lose” battles that have no hope of resolving our most pressing challenges.

Instead, I want my leaders to act like grown-ups. I want them to be more professional and less petty. I want them to behave more like statesmen and less like attack dogs. I want them to seek and build consensus. I want them to craft solutions that purposefully fall short of being “perfect” for the extremes so they can be “good enough” for the widest possible majority of us.

Somewhere in the kingdom there surely must be people of good will who can inject a little reason and respect into our dialogue, lift us out of the muck and train our sights on the hard problems we need to solve, and begin conducting the government’s business in a way that does not repulse more than nine in 10 of us.

Should such people end up on a ballot, they will have my vote.

Russ Keller

Flowering Oak Way

Mount Pleasant

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