Tomorrow will be three weeks since the Republican National Convention ended, and two weeks since Democrat Convention ended. It was a privilege to be an alternate delegate from the 3rd Congressional District of South Carolina to the RNC event in Cleveland. Last week (linked) I shared my initial thoughts on the results of the Republican Primary Process which culminated in Cleveland.
My most important reflections are outside of the conventions themselves. They deal with the 42.5 % who chose not to vote in the 2012 Presidential race, up from the 37.7 % who chose not to vote in the 2008 Presidential race. It deals with average Americans, who aren’t engaged in the political process, let alone have an understanding of the delegate selection process, or the electoral college which our representative government uses to select our Commander in Chief.
My thoughts began formulating when I arrived in Cleveland’s newly renovated Public Square two days before the convention “kickoff.” I ate lunch at Rebol, a restaurant on the square which serves only all natural, non GMO produced food. They feature outside seating with large picnic tables, where if you choose to, you can share a meal with complete strangers.
I asked to join a local couple already seated. They agreed, and we struck up a conversation. Turns out, they were both liberals. Being a conservative in town for the RNC Convention made for interesting conversation. I found it refreshing that as we began talking, specifically about nutrition, our nation’s food supply, how that impacts healthcare, the lack of choice in our nation’s healthcare, the lack of choice in our nation’s education system, the insecurity of our nation’s electric grid and the growing concern over public safety – we found that there was far more we had common ground on, than we actually disagreed on. I enjoyed a tremendously pleasant meal, and a local brew with two liberals who want the best for the next generation!
One hilarious point of our discussion was sharing our undergraduate degrees and I learned the woman completed a double major: Political Science and Theater, neither of which she uses in her current work! We laughed about how appropriate that dual degree actually is, and that during the course of the next two weeks – we would see a lot of theater. We surely did!
I transposed that conversation with another conversation I had several weeks prior, in a state capital, with a state legislator, at an event organized by an association lobbying state legislators on a particular issue. Legislators from both sides of the political aisle were present. At that event, the state legislator shared with me how he works hard to foster relationships with legislators from both sides of the aisle, and how they actually communicate. He specifically contrasted that approach with how Federal legislators tell him Washington works. Opposite sides rarely even get together to discuss the issues in Washington. They meet in their political caucuses, get their talking points from “leadership,” – then go to provide “the theater” the American people digest through the media.
The root of the divide, in my opinion, is two-fold: 1) Clutching of power by career politicians, and 2) lack of engagement by common sense Americans. For those paying attention, the parties themselves are getting more divided. This is not good, in my opinion. George Washington warned of political parties in his farewell address.
More next week.