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Patrick O'Connor

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Let There Be (Political) Climate Change, and Let It Begin With Me

Posted: 06/29/2012 3:35 pm

After a week that saw the Attorney General charged with contempt of Congress, and an ample number of anti-Obamacare protesters showing their contempt for Congress, the factory whistle of democracy is blowing, calling for a seven-day lunch break during a sweltering heat wave some people are blaming on a climate phenomenon other people say doesn't exist.

But I bet we don't make the most of it.

Sure, we'll hit the beach, and brandish the barbecue with every cut of meat known to humanity. We'll attend a 4th of July fireworks program every night of the week and ooh and aah as if we'd never seen that explosion that starts red, then bursts into 12 different wiggling streaks of white. And if we're really lucky, we'll get to hold the hand of a 4-year-old who has used a year's supply of tape to swath their tricycle with red, white and blue crepe paper and wave to the neighbors while pedaling down Main Street.

That will be a good start, but it's likely to fade. We'll race to the car on July 9th with a freshly-washed commuter mug and yell at the talk radio caller who has no idea what the Founding Fathers wanted government to look like; click on a blog site at work where some idiot is talking about the up side of the Supreme Court's decision to affirm the corporate right to free speech, and drive right past the neighbor's house that has the "Vote Libertarian" sign on the front lawn, even though we know his wife isn't doing well.

And we'll forget again.

We'll forget that the Founding Fathers didn't have a common vision for the country; that Aaron Burr so despised Alexander Hamilton, he shot Hamilton in a duel after Hamilton fired his weapon into the air; that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, though fast friends before and after their presidencies, barely spoke to each other during the time Adams was elected president and Jefferson was his vice president; that the Constitution was written with its more strict structures only after the states failed to work together as "a league of friendship" under the Articles of Confederation.

We'll run back to the idea that John and Tom and Alex were all cut from the same cloth, because it's easier to believe that than to think they saw the world differently and had to learn to give a little. We'll do this, even though the only reason we have two houses of Congress, the presidential veto, and the power of judicial review is because the Founding Fathers knew from experience that the only way the country could move forward was if we agreed to disagree, and worked out our differences.

Those compromises are in our Constitution and our history books, but we will turn a blind eye to them and believe the Founding Fathers never had to seek middle ground -- because if they didn't have to compromise then, we don't have to compromise now.

It's certainly easier to believe we are right than to test that belief in the world of discourse, dialogue, and disagreement -- but that is what democracy requires if a nation is to move forward. Chair throwing and bombast may appeal to our overly-catered desire for entertainment, but the real answer to greater prosperity lies in looking past the labels we assign to others -- and even those they may place on themselves -- and find the common strengths that forge better days, one respectful conversation at a time.

So -- how is your Libertarian neighbor's wife?

 

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