Make America Politically Direct

(February 2017)

With winds of political change blowing from all directions at once, it seems impossible to follow current events without being bemused or maddened or both.  Whether one is a "there-is-no-government-like-no-government" conservative or a "big-government" liberal, it is hard to observe the actions of our political leaders and politically engaged partisans without wondering if anyone truly stands for anything.  Anymore, where one stands depends on where one sits in a perplexing game of political musical chairs.

In Washington, conservative Republicans are cheering plans to expand government spending and grow the national debt while complaining that liberal Democrats are practicing the obstructionism they learned over the last eight years from the "Party of 'NO!'"  In Harrisburg, the Democratic governor put forth a budget proposing dramatic cuts in government spending, but liberals who have complained that government has been cut to the bone aren't raising an issue with the governor's plan.  And here in Philadelphia -- the Birthplace of the American Hypocrisy -- our Mayor is angry that business owners are passing his Soda Tax on to low-income consumers while champions of the services that tax may facilitate are largely silent that much of that new tax revenue won't even go toward the programs they champion and, instead, will be used by the mayor to fill holes in his budget.

Locally, Republicans complain about waste, fraud, and abuse in Democrat-controlled City Hall, but they have been curiously silent about the scandalous mismanagement of the Republican-controlled Philadelphia Parking Authority.  Unfortunately, they are in good company.  Local Democrats, including the city's elected financial watchdog and everyone in City Hall, have looked the other way as the authority terrorized drivers to raise the revenues to hire new hacks and pay out hush money.

As local leaders contemplate expanded construction spending to improve and renovate recreation centers, libraries, and other public facilities across Philadelphia, the lack of diversity among members of the local building trades who will do the work stands out as a continuing shame.  The lack of diversity has persisted for decades even as officials have spoken out repeatedly against the segregation.  Yet everyone manages to stay friends and political fundraisers are well-attended by building-trades representatives while diversity in publicly funded worksites is as elusive as an Eagles Super Bowl win.

If there's one thing we can count on in this era of us-versus-them, it’s that we are rooting for us and that we are against them.  

Or not.  

In Philadelphia, the bluest of blue cities, the city's lone Republican district council member actually ran unopposed in his last re-election bid.  Our Democratic mayor and other prominent Democratic elected officials were featured in a political ad for a Philadelphia Republican state representative this past fall.

If the only thing we can count on is double talk and equivocation, then trying to make America great or attempting to resist are equally hopeless in this era of shifting political winds.


Emerson may be right that a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, but a thoughtful consistency shouldn't be too much to ask for.  I would like to believe that we could count on something to be dependable in the political world.  I would hope that the policy platform my side endorses and the political postures it opposes have some logical basis.  Is that too much to ask?