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America’s two-party system broken

April 4, 2010

I, like many, watched the March 17 airing of Fox News' Bret Baier as he grilled President Obama on his health care bill. And I think we all remember South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson, a Republican, yelling out "You lie!" when the president said his legislation would not mandate coverage for undocumented immigrants in his September 2009 address. Outbursts such as these are common in the United States these days.

Whatever happened to respect for the office of the presidency? Our government is hopelessly mired in political infighting, and it is manifesting itself in our 24-hour news programming. For example, when you mention Fox, people think Republican, Christian, right wing, etc. If you mention CNN, people think Democrat, liberal, radical. These are the words we throw around today when discussing our fellow Americans. The deep rifts that have formed between the left and the right have become cavernous.

The current state of affairs seemed to have taken root during the 2000 presidential election, aka the Bush/Gore recounts. It seemed the country was ripped in two, blue on one side, red on the other. The blogs were set ablaze, and our fate set in stone. I have not seen any real attempt to mend bridges on either side of the aisle. People today don't seem to think of themselves as Americans first; rather, they opt for their political monikers.

We all need to wake up and realize what we thought of as a great democracy turned out to be not so great after all. Really, it is a broken two- party system that refuses to agree on much and is incapable of thinking of the greater good anymore. The "greater good" has become a radical idea these days. The last attempt to think of the betterment of our fellow man was FDR's New Deal. This was a series of economic programs passed by Congress during the first term of the president from 1933 to his re-election in 1937.

Like most Americans, I no longer know whom to trust. I suppose we cannot expect the government to get its act together until "we the people" do. In the words of George Bernard Shaw, "Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve." Or maybe Hamlet's mother had it right when she said, "Sweets to the sweet," in Shakespeare's play.

The time has come when people need to realize we are all on the same side and our political system is basically run by the same politicians who are merely the flip side of the same coin. When do we stop voting for the moniker and start voting for the person? Surely, we can all agree on this at least: America is the greatest country in the world, and like it or not, we have to live here together.

Russell W. Dickson, a guest columnist, lives in Johnstown.



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