There’s no question about it: whether it’s local or national, we’re in one unpleasant political pickle.
I’m not talking about the military boondoggles we’ve found ourselves in abroad, or the economic recession, or ongoing culture clashes – though those things aren’t helping matters. I’m talking about the nature of modern political dialogue.
Nationally, our two parties of power can’t seem to get along. Rather than find compromise or fair solutions, each party defaults to demagoguery. They offer obstacles instead of partnership. Well-considered, even-headed proposals take a backseat to over-simplified dogma, repeated so frequently that its hollowness is ignored because, hey, if so many people are saying it, it must have substance, right?
Locally it’s not much better. The ferociously absurd tenor of national politics has dripped down to already fragile political institutions of municipal and state government, with small-time pols ham-handedly taking on the end-is-nigh thuggery of the national machinery. Though representatives in municipalities across America are more likely to work hand-in-hand with their cross-party counterparts, they’ve proven themselves to not be above the posturing.
The effect? Cynicism and distrust, not just of our political leaders, but of each other. Neighbors have adopted the same tones of dismissiveness and distrust of those with opposing ideas that have corrupted our political systems. “Libtards” and “Republi-Crooks” are battle cries, and if a person seeks to forward one idea that might be categorized as, say “liberal,” suddenly they’re pigeon-holed as sharing every sin of every “liberal” ideology in history. And that goes the same for “conservative.”
Rolling off that dissatisfaction with the political class, it seems more and more people are fed up with the dysfunction. Make no bones about it – though the demographics are different, and solutions are different, the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street movements are flip sides of the same coin: the people want the government to work for them, not for the parties.
This is an historic moment, to be sure. The shape and form that dissatisfaction takes, paired with technological innovations that alter the way we interact with one another, will inevitably (and has already begun to) be reflected in new political paradigms – paradigms that will mold the future of this nation, and how we interact with the system.
That’s quite a lead-in to our little announcement, ain’t it? Well, its these issues that the Madison-Marine-Homecrest Civic Association is attempting to shed light on in a panel to be held tomorrow, October 20, at 7:30 p.m. The civic association is hosting “Talkin’ About Politics,” in which Erik Engquist, the assistant managing editor and head of political coverage for Crain’s New York Business, and Colin Campbell, editor-in-chief at The Brooklyn Politics blog, will discuss the current political landscape of Brooklyn, New York and the nation. The panel will be moderated by yours truly, and I plan to explore the stunted political discourse – and its effect on the public’s control over their community – through the prism of political reporting and public engagement.
The free panel will be preceded by the civic’s usual meeting activities, which include statements from elected officials, reports from police, and a discussion on the group’s activities.
It’s going to be a fun and interesting night. Come down and join us!
When: Thursday, October 20, 7:30 p.m.
Where: King’s Chapel, Quentin Road and East 27th Street