There are clear choices in the 2012 election, but precious little vision. Our political dialogue is about debt, deficits, taxes and emotionally felt peripheral issues. We don't talk any more about what would constitute a good and just society and how to achieve it.
Those who do not see any personal benefit to paying taxes to help those in need frequently also have lots of money to invest in political outcomes. Does anyone honestly believe that the numerous groups of poor have the resources to change this reality?
Buried underneath the heap of controversy caused by that pesky 47% video sits an equally revealing tidbit from last week's news cycle: Mitt Romney prefers Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi to Alana "Honey Boo Boo Child" Thompson.
Like Wisconsin, America at large is bitterly at odds with itself. A starting point for recovering our national community is to acknowledge that we all, whichever side we're on, face the same question: What kind of country do we want to live in?
Anyone who knows Pakistan knows that it's simplistic to chant (like the sheep in Animal Farm), "Civilians good, military ba-a-a-ad." But it's also true that a military takeover is not only far from out of the question, but likely only to make things worse. So where can we look for leadership?
Our two-party system is buckling under the weight of its dysfunction. Exhausted by partisan gridlock, Americans are finally ready to embrace a centrist, pragmatic, independent candidate free from the demands of special interests and ideologues.
Such has been the patient sufferance of the people of these United States of America; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of political decision making and, when necessary, the actual structure and organization of its government.
Do most citizens have a fully reasoned view of what we want government to actually do? Is that at the root of the polarization poisoning American politics? Perhaps a little thought experiment would help.
If Americans were told to choose between two cars, shirts, colors or family sizes, we'd rise up in revolt. Tell us we have only two parties, however, and we accept it as though any alternative is unimaginable.