Letter: Parties have stanglehold on our politics

Published 12:41 pm Saturday, October 25, 2008

Reliance upon slogans and symbols short circuits our thought process, allowing us to ignore the complexities of issues. This bad habit is used in both secular and religious discourse.

One symbol of secular democracy is the Constitution, which is shaped by the political realities of the time when it was written. It was not meant to be permanent or perfect, and through amendment has been improved. Now political parties have a stranglehold on our politics. Political platforms are marketing tools that politicians give lip-service to while courting favor from wealthy contributors upon whom their power is based. It is vain to hope that our two party political system will enact campaign reforms that do more than put the public in a bidding war with corporate sponsors or threaten their monopoly.

One religious symbol is the Ten Commandments, a vehicle Moses used to create a minimum of social order among contentious peoples he deemed necessary to their survival. Some Christians, unwilling or unable to apply New Testament ethics to modern society, would turn back the clock back 2,000 years by enshrining the Ten Commandments.

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In spite of our collective failure to protect democracy, I remain convinced that democracy is our best chance of building a society in which people can assert their better selves. If democracy is to be restored we must give up our symbols, our slogans and our rallying cries and start dealing with reality.

John Gibson

Blooming Prairie