While watching Jon Stewart's "Rally to Restore Sanity," I was struck by attention paid to the idea that many people are fed up with extreme views and the fanning of their flames by the 24 hour news cycle. It is logical that we the people would be wanting to stick a fork in the Tea Party and say it is done. However there is the small matter that the issues they have raised are not necessarily all "conservative."
For instance, the effectiveness of government is not the providence of extreme conservatives, many progressives and moderates are just as frustrated by the political processes of government. Regardless of whether people think that government should be big or small, I think the point we all agree on is: it should work. Frankly big ticket items that Congress debates like wars and health care should raise hackles--they are incredibly expensive. The difference in wars and health care though is that we have waged war for a long time and the return on the investment is not always so hot. How much will health care end up costing? Well, depending on the election, we may not ever know, despite having a couple of model programs that the government runs (The VA and Medicare) that actually work pretty darn good.
Is our disdain of government limited to the majority party du jour or the fact that regardless of which party is in power, the ability to make laws that serve people over other more monied interests is questionable. Whether you fear corporations, millionaires, or labor unions' influence, the major point is that all American people are disadvantaged by decisions that are not intended to be in our best interest.
The hope that I take from seeing thousands of people turning out for a pseudo-political rally is that we realize the joke is on us. We realize that our government is only as good as those who represent us. Fortunately, many politicians are reasonable and decent people, despite what the 24 hour news cycle tells us. It is true that there are some folks with rather extreme views representing people who also share these views, but most are people who want to do the job they were sent to do, but are isolated from the moderating voices.
If pressed, I'll bet most would agree that if they could be assured that they could be elected without taking PAC money, they would--as long as other men or women would do it too. If pressed, I'll bet none of them would add "pork" to bills, if the folks back home wouldn't throw them out if they didn't take care of pet projects. Politicians, like the rest of us, use the tools at their disposal. Also, if politics could be moved into the realm of the non-partisan and parties had less control over who the "strong" candidates are, perhaps we could expect more reasonable people to seek offices. Perhaps, if more third party candidates ran, a more even keeled government might be formed.
But who am I kidding? Jon Stewart, I'm not. I'm a guy in Iowa who has witnessed sausage being made for a little too long. And as soon as this mid-term election comes and goes...here come the Caucuses. Whatever end of the spectrum you are on, be prepared to be used for photo opportunities or join the fray. There is sanity in it--somewhere.