I promised myself that I would never reveal who I vote for in elections, and I still abide by that promise. Suffice to say, I got a bigger education after the election than I did in the months leading up to it.
The easiest reaction is to argue about who's to blame -- a conversation that dominated the responses to Part 1. Solutions are more difficult. Is the Legislative Branch irretrievably broken, or is there something we citizens can do?
10. The "Republicans" Are Not Republicans: What I will heretofore call "Republican" with quote marks around it has nothing to do with true Republican heroes like Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and even Barry Goldwater.
President Obama won in 2008 largely because of support among independents. Whichever poll you want to look at, Obama badly trails Governor Romney among independents this year. And he is going to have to cut into Romney's independent support if he wants to win a second term.
Both Democrats and Republicans believe if their nominee gets elected, the serious problems our country faces will be tackled with a new vigor, and real change will actually occur. But is this really what history proves will generally be the case?
I challenge you to look around your own village, town or city and rediscover those little golden nugget merchants lost in a sea of contemporary, bulk-buying, cheap import stores. Drive a little bit out of your way to reach them once in a while if they're not on your normal commute.
If you're a Texan, you know the name Kinky Friedman. If you're not, you may have heard of his much-publicized run for the governor's seat against Rick Perry, his songs like "Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in Bed."
The American political parties persist, nonetheless, in offering their respective truths. For Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, a restoration of the prosperous America we once knew is just around the bend. Really?
The premise sounded a little jokey -- stoners hanging out and taking part in a Revolutionary War reenactment. But the moment the first song begins -- "Fare Thee Well" -- you immediately sit up straight in your seat.
This month has brought some more progress on the chronic California budget crisis, the beginning of some results for reform efforts, and, as the state Republican Party continues its devolution, telling early returns on the appeal of independents.
As the parties have polarized they have grown the divide between them and subtracted a large number of registered voters from their rolls. This polarization has increased the ranks of reported independents substantially.
The old Joni Mitchell line, "You don't know what you've got till it's gone" applies to public higher education these days. Most states have dramatically cut financial support of their research universities.
How do Independents manage to rise above party politics while the rest of the electorate is divided by ideology? Well, perhaps they don't. New evidence suggests that the label "Independent" may imply more objectivity and purity than these Independents deserve.
In the current situation, where the issue of the day is one of process, Americans understandably see minor parties as smaller versions of the major parties. They are declaring their independence from parties of all kinds.