2,000 Plus Dead, Another Urban Myth
I asked a very intelligent and caring woman, my wife, how many people have died now in the American battle over Iraq. Of course she gave the standard answer, "over 2,000".
She was quite right, in fact it's about 25,000 people over 2,000. Almost no American civilian will stop to consider the Iraqi death toll when answering this question. It's not that they are without compassion, they just spit out the number that gets drummed into their ears every time they listen to the broadcast news.
The media delivers the news they think their viewers and listeners (and a few readers) want, and they get that info from a pool of "homespun" sound bites that our politicians feed them.
The truth is that the vast argument over the war in Iraq and American foreign policy is simply posturing by sleazy politicians who hope to win votes from the gullible public. When Republicans scream that the Democrats are wrong to say that Bush lied, they may be correct. Democrats may very well just be saying that to get votes. What the Republicans need to consider though, is that a lot of average Americans also believe that Bush lied, and they aren't posturing for anything.
Both parties need to recognize that there will never be one consensus on the war, or our foreign policy. There may never even be two generally held opinions. With nearly three hundred million Americans, where would anyone get the idea we could all agree on anything? It is certainly counterproductive to resort to name calling and character assassinations. It is definitely counterproductive to insist that everything you've ever done is right, you've never been wrong, damn the evidence, 27,000 dead and counting, you aren't going to say you're sorry about anything.
It's definitely hard to see the moral high ground of invading another country and turning it inside out. It's hard to see the moral high ground of having our brightest young people die in order to protect vital U.S. interests while at the same time a few American corporations make a killing through no bid contracts. It's hard to see the sense of going from a budget surplus to a record deficit. Average Americans have to live within their family's budget. Maybe our government motto should be "Of the people, by the people, for the people and just like the people."
As long as two parties keep playing politics, the government will remain ineffective at representing the real American people. As long as Americans keep casting the majority of their votes for one of the two big parties, they will continue playing politics. It seems like a catch-22, but there may be a solution.
Big party politics actually start in your own community at the local level. There is probably a Democratic party and a Republican party right in your own town. These are knit to larger parties and eventually to your state party, and these state parties help draft platforms for the national party. What you can do in your own community to influence Democrats and Republicans can actually filter up to the national level, but you'd really need to whack them between the eyes. Taking their votes will do that.
In the past couple of elections third party candidates were not viable, but they were considered to be spoilers, people who could drain votes away from one of the other parties. Even unviable third party candidates get their ideas aired before the larger parties, because the larger parties want these spoilers to fold before the general election.
Imagine if there were a local write in candidate for president in every county of every state in the nation? Imagine if these write in candidates got more than a few votes. The object wouldn't be to try winning any election, and the object wouldn't even be to try to spoil someone else's election. The object would be to send a very, very important message: "We're fed up with politics as usual, don't take us for granted." The local parties might have to pay attention to what ideas the locals were supporting when they tossed their votes to a write in candidate. They might have to carry these ideas up to the state party, and the most recurring ideas could even become part of the national Republican or Democratic platform in another election.
David Blaine [9:23 AM]