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After watching the Republican and Democratic conventions and being subjected on television and radio by political ads ad nauseam, I have come to the conclusion that the "democratic process" referred to in the August 30 Valley Reporter editorial is in serious trouble and probably beyond repair.
The vitriolic speeches, questionable statistics, half truths and downright lies on both sides are disgraceful. In the August 30 editorial, the editor states the "democratic process ... deserves better and we can do better." I am aware the editor is referring to the citizens who don't vote, but I put it to you that the voters deserve better from those who control the democratic process, in particular the members of Congress, many who are bought and paid for by special interests.
What is needed is a new democratic process or, as former Senator Bill Bradley says, "a new American story." In his book, The New American Story, Bradley emphasizes that this new story does not begin with government as it now stands but with us, i.e., the public. He points out further that the public must not accept lies without challenging those who spout these lies. When we fail to be informed, and by this I don't mean to accept willy-nilly whatever is stated by the politicians or written in the media, we are in essence allowing our country to be controlled by those whose goals are personal enrichment or worse.
One way to begin a new American story is with a third party so that we get more and hopefully better choices. Unfortunately, the few attempts at this did not work as witnessed by how many citizens did not vote for Ralph Nader in the 2008 election because they were convinced by both political parties that voting for Nader was a wasted vote, and by The Tea Party whose supporters could not agree among themselves.
But even if a third party comes to being, it could result in a "same old, same old" story unless our young people get involved. Whether they work within the current parties or start a new one, they must make their presence known. As Bradley points out, "We should inculcate the idea of citizen service in people while they are young." Acceptance of the role of citizen service should begin formally in high school, with a civic education and a commitment of time to public service. Young men and women must get involved in leadership roles in the political process. Above all, they must no longer accept the status quo. They must challenge every statement made and insist only on the truth.
I don't want my children and grandchildren to be stuck with the current political system. It is not working. So I will urge them as I urge all young people to change it now.
Mal Simon lives in Warren, VT, and Lincoln Park, NJ.