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Tom Gerdy Headshot

Jackass, Elephant or Eagle?

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In recent years, the Republicans and the Democrats have decided their long time mascots no longer made sense. Even though the parties have distanced themselves, political cartoonists will probably never stop using the animal characters in an effort to make us think and laugh. These symbols of our two major political parties should have sent us a message or wake up call many years ago asking, Are you a Jackass or an Elephant? I, personally, have almost lost track of who owns which mascot. Both Republicans and Democrats are often guilty of acting like dumb, stubborn Jackasses. And of course, neither party has a lock on the ability to govern like a thick-skinned, slow moving Elephant.

There is something a bit ironic about the fact that both animals have very big ears. I have heard it said more than once, since we were given two ears and one mouth, we should listen twice as much as we talk. Most politicians don't seem to understand that concept. One might hope both groups would see the huge ears as a message that they should be intently listening to what is going on around them. Such oversized ears should allow them to gather a great deal of relevant information. In theory, the act of gathering massive amounts of information should allow both parties to make good decisions for our country, instead of for their party. The sad reality seems to be that the "party ears" are too often used to listen for ammunition to mount an attack on the "enemy". This isn't about issues; this is about politics.

I want to refer to two of Mr. Webster's definitions of Politics. Definition number one says politics is "the art or science of government". I personally like to think this is what it should mean. However, I sadly think another definition Mr. Webster lists, better defines what our system has become. Politics is "the art or science concerned with winning and holding control over a government".

Most of the election time discussions focus on power. Unfortunately, the talk is all about political parties and the gaining or losing control of seats. The true issues rarely even ride 'shotgun'. The issues that affect us as citizens can be found in the back seat with the party hoping that their candidate doesn't have to actually discuss them. This isn't about issues; this is about politics.

Recent political campaigns have seen many of the political powers decide that there is no cost too great when it comes to maintaining control. As they attempt to discredit opposing parties or candidates, it diverts our attention away from the goals and the issues. It often appears we spend more time discussing hunting accidents and/or stains on blue dresses than we do on real issues. This practice is starting to create a sub-cultural of political leaders who are in office by default. Let me correct myself. They aren't political leaders. They are politicians. They slipped into office because the cleaners got their "blue dress" before the other party did. They are posturing for power not on what they can help us achieve, but on the fact someone had a hunting accident. This isn't about issues; this is about politics.

Enough is enough, and in this case it's way too much. Aren't we all getting tired of Jackasses, Elephants and Politicians? We have to lose the smoke screens created by hunting accidents and blue dresses. We must have more leaders and more voters who understand it can no longer be about politics. No true challenges can be solved with what politics has become. As long as we allow our attention to be directed to non-issues, we will continue to elect Politicians. We must have more leaders and voters who realize it has to be about issues. Even in Arianna Huffington's recent "earmark" reform piece about strange ideological bedfellows and increasing bipartisan partnerships, the message turns back to party politics. The final line asks, "Are the Democrats up to the challenge?" Are we pretending the Republicans have a monopoly on "earmark" clauses and legislation?

As always is the case when reform is necessary, it will take courageous leaders and voters to do what is right. We have to end the search for "the best Democrat or Republican". The hunt needs to be for leaders, not politicians. As we search for those true leaders, I point to the symbol of our country- the Eagle. A man of great wisdom found the words that explain the power of the Eagle. He said, "The Eagle loves to soar high above the world, not to look down on people, but in order to encourage them to look up." From this day on, we must pledge to 'just say no' to Jackasses, Elephants and Politicians. We must find the Eagles and then ask ourselves, ARE WE UP TO THE EAGLE'S CHALLENGE?