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Good Advice in 1968

01/25/2012

A client in Texas emailed me a week or so ago, asking why I don’t discuss politics on this blog.  I remembered the last few weeks of Officer Candidate School in the Army, when they tried to make gentlemen of their almost-graduated new officers.  They told us that a young officer should NEVER discuss politics, religion, or child-rearing.  (They never said if that advice applied to old men as well, or just young officers.)

That was back in the day when debate was more than spinning points, when opponents argued with each other, instead of merely reaching past their opponent for the hot buttons of their base.

Following the State of the Union address, it is tempting but wasteful to discuss it.  Both the Republicans and the Democrats have many good ideas that would really help our country.  Sadly, that doesn’t matter.

I read an analysis recently, recalling there have always been a few conservative Democrats and a few progressive Republicans, who were the key swing votes and kept government relevant.  However, now the most conservative Democrat is far too liberal for the most liberal Republican and vice versa.  The swing votes in the center have been destroyed by redistricting.

Redistricting is the source of all evil in Congress.  Letting politicians set the ground rules for their own districts is like letting players on a football team act as referees of their own game.  Creating safe districts, which are then dependably Republican or Democrat, eliminates any room for moderates or swing votes necessary to keep government relevant.

When there is room for moderates in Congress, when redistricting is taken from the hands of politicians, and when debate becomes intellectual again instead of merely theatrical, it may be time for old men to discuss politics, but until then, I’m still a young Army officer.

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