Tonawanda News

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November 4, 2012

DUVALL: In increasingly ugly America, it's time to get serious


Tonawanda News — I choose my words carefully in that last part, though. Americans could be forgiven. We should not, though, be let off the hook.

The reality is the superficiality of this campaign mirrors the superficiality pervading our culture. We shun candidates who don’t hew to the party orthodoxy or the commonly accepted political tropes. He’ll cut Medicare! She’ll privatize Social Security! He apologized for America! Welfare is for leeches! He’s a socialist! 

The winner of the election is whoever shouts these meaningless phrases at the highest decibal level. And as long as we voters continue to respond to these dog whistles with Pavlovian precision it’s going to continue. 

As best I can tell, there are three kinds of voters and four kinds of Americans. The three kinds of voters are informed partisans, liberal or conservative, and stupid people who don’t know the difference between the two but have an opinion anyway. The fourth kind of American — and the vast majority of the population writ large — is comprised of people who simply don’t give a crap and couldn’t form an opinion if you made them.

We need a fifth group and we need it now. People in this fifth group might hew Democrat or Republican, but aren’t afraid to admit when their side is wrong. They are pragmatists who acknowledge problems and seek a third way to address them that isn’t born of partisan ideology and a generations-long struggle between left and right, but a non-ideological and fact-driven. 

We need smart people who are perfectly entitled to their opinions but willing to set them aside when they don’t serve the larger purpose of running a country.

But this fifth estate can’t do it alone. It requires voters from both sides of the aisle — average Americans — to stop what they’re doing and ask the candidates they support a simple question: How can we fix this?

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