Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Here we go

Well, good morning Nashville! One day to go. Thursday is an important election day. Let's do all we can today to involve as many citizens of Nashville as possible. Go ahead and take the risk. Talk to those 20-50 people you come into contact with each day; those people you don't want to "bother" with your political views. Today is the political equivalent of the Great American Smokeout. On that day, perfect strangers accost one another to discourage smoking. Is this irritating to smokers? Yes, but it is also in their best interests, and most smokers reflect on those unsolicited opinions, and some stop smoking.

So, today, I am declaring a Greater Metropolitan Nashville Political Apathy Out. Today, everyone is not only encouraged to share his/her opinion on the Mayor's race, everyone should realize it is his/her responsibility to share political opinions with anyone who hasn't voted. Only early voters are exempt...and no lying; but even early voters are obligated to speak with others. For the next 24-36 hours, everyone gets to know your opinion on the Mayor's race, your local council seat and the at-large candidates. You can do it, and we can all stay friends.

I know people find politics awkward, but the problem is not politics. The problem is the personalization of politics. Zero-sum attack politics leaves us all poorer, but politics that is positive sum enables us to engage our differences and search for compromises that leave us all better off. When politics is at its best, no matter who wins, everyone really wins, but increasingly we all treat politics like sports. In sports, if your team has a bad year, makes bad moves, or employs questionable characters, you stick with your team and hope they will straighten it out. Any Cubs fans understand what I'm saying? Lately, that's the way we've treated our political party affiliations, and it isn't something that is brand new, it has probably always been that way to a greater of lesser degree.

Yet, in politics, the question is not which TEAM wins...the question ought to be which IDEAS win, because when the best ideas are vetted, tested, tweaked, and accepted, WE ALL WIN. The goal is not showing loyalty to the team; the teams ought to be loyal to us. To make that happen, we have to be willing and able to walk away. In short, we need choices.

In this local election, we have some real choices. Each of us has to ask some important questions and do some real looking to find out which choices he or she prefer. What an opportunity!

So, make a decision. It matters. Then share your decision with everyone you see. Start by sharing it here, but make sure you share it with the real potential voters you meet every day. In If you do, you will be building a climate of discussion and dialogue...productive debate. It may feel awakward at first, but you will soon find it isn't all that threatening. Then, our candidates will have to impress us all in order to lead us.

The reference to What's the Matter with Kansas that is the allusion in the title of this blog is instructive here. Nothing is the matter with Tennessee if every person sincerly evaluates electoral choices, if those choices are real, and if we are all able to compromise in order to govern well.

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