A Call for Change. Real Change.

A Change of the Debate
The condition of contemporary political dialogue is disgraceful. Rather than debating the issues, American media figures, politicians, and commentators repeat old arguments and report valueless stories. For example, no less than 8,826 news stories were written on our nation’s (so-called) “beer summit.” To be frank, who cares? Is it uplifting? No. Is it encouraging? No. Is it intellectually stimulating? No. Does it matter beyond the clicking of cameras? No.

The political debate today should not be commenced with insults (Obama, “stupid”), race baiting (Professor Gates), or unwarranted accusations (Glenn Beck, Obama is “a racist”). That’s not debate. That’s diatribe.

A Change of the Motive
Essentially, Republicans want you to vote Republican and Democrats want you to vote Democrat. There you have it, that’s the motive. That, however, is the wrong motive. Remember, why do we debate? Ostensibly to determine the best solution. But if ultimately the debate is motivated by party-politics, the actual purpose for debate is negated.

A Change of the Presentation
Television news is a beauty pageant. Talk radio is a shock-jock contest. Blogging is an unending competition between party-liners and ignoramuses. We don’t need the prettiest face in America to report our news. We need the most articulate, intelligent, and proficient individual. We don’t need hate and the party-line to be constantly propagated by the radio waves. We need the facts, the truth, and the solution. We don’t need ignorance and insults to populate the internet. We need reason, principle, and intelligence to be king.

A Change of the Politics

Think of obesity. It is one of the leading causes of preventable death worldwide. Among Americans it is an epidemic. But is it a hot political issue (as it should be)? Of course not. Why should it be, when we can listen to David Letterman make off-color jokes about Sarah Palin’s son who suffers from Down Syndrome?

Think of the environment. Republicans and Democrats disagree over the interpretation of science. Who cares? There are so many other ways that we can protect the environment. Think of recycling, conservation, elimination of hazardous chemicals, compost piles, electronic document conversion, telecommuting, vanpools, solar powered water heaters, the list does not end.

Think of our broken public school system. Think of the potential of school choice. This should not be a political issue. Charter schools. Home schools. Private schools. Religious schools. Statistically all of these outperform their public counterparts. The numbers don’t lie. It is nothing short of hypocrisy to declare support for “progressivism” on the one hand and defend a broken system on the other.

Think of social justice. Our system of foreign aid must be revamped. Rather than making developing countries dependent on American foreign aid, we should concentrate it in areas where it permanently changes entire countries and makes future American aid unnecessary. By spreading American solutions to poor African and Asian countries and encouraging entrepreneurship this can be accomplished.

A Change of the Terms
Both Conservatism and Progressivism are inaccurate ideological descriptions. The Oxford English Dictionary defines Conservative as “a tendency to preserve or keep intact or unchanged.” It is the acme of arrogance to blindly believe the principles, policies, and beliefs of the past are intrinsically better than contemporary beliefs. This is not to disregard the canon of history. Nay, this is to accept the great truth of history””that man is not perfect””and that man must always strive towards the high standard of truth, righteousness, and love.

The same is true of Progressivism. Progress is an empty and unaccountable standard. It can be good or bad. To make decisions in the name of progress is to err. An underlining philosophy must inform progress.

A Change of the Argument
Unbeknownst to many, policy discussions are not simply emotional appeals. There is such thing as history, precedent, philosophy, literature, myth, science, and natural law. Debates should be, and must be, informed by a holistic intellectual approach.

A Change of the Conclusion
The situation in America must change””if it does not””the results will be dire. That much is clear. We must look to the past for the purpose of securing our nation a better future. We must reexamine old ideals, principles, and practices. Today, we proudly proclaim our avant-garde status. But we forget our heritage. We forget history. Jerusalem. Athens. Rome. London. These four cities shaped the American tradition. To ignore the wisdom of the ages is akin to gouging out our nation’s collective eyes.

How Can You be a Catalyst for Change?
Here are some suggestions.
“¢ Turn off the television, end your cable subscription.
“¢ Unsubscribe from your daily newspaper.
“¢ Call talk radio and express your views.
“¢ Write a letter to the editor.
“¢ Don’t let yourself be defined as “progressive,” “Conservative,” “Republican,” or “Democrat.” Recognize that men are in many ways existential.
“¢ Vote according to principle and reason. Not based on party.
“¢ Live what you believe. Believe what you live.
“¢ Read. Research. Remember.
“¢ What’s your suggestion?

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to LinkedIn Post to Reddit

Posted by at 12:56 | Posted in Measure 37 | 29 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Freddie

    My suggestions would be to ride the rental bikes in Portland as much as you can, eat less, don’t call people names, get a job if you don’t have one, trade in your clunker, save your money, work hard, don’t let the big media filter your news, walk more, drive less, try to see the beauty in things as much as possible, work for change, trust your elected officials, support your elected officials, support a strong state government that will be there when we need it, turn off your lights at night, and be happy!

  • Anonymous

    I agree with most of this post, but want to correct one thing:

    Obesity may be a problem, especially in North America and parts of Europe, but it is NOT the number one preventable killer worldwide. Far more people suffer from malnutrition across the globe than suffer from too much beer and cheeseburgers in the industrialized west. Also, Obesity is often preventable, but there are many factors still being studied regarding genetics, diet, regional populations, exercise, and how much the extra weight contributes to ill health.

    If you want to talk about worldwide preventables, how about:

    Smoking – 100% preventable

    Starvation – often preventable if local governments did not commit atrocities against their own people

    Infectious diseases – many can be prevented with immunizations, others can be effectively reduced or eliminated through pest control

    War and genocide – more people died at the hands of the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot than were “killed” by Ray Kroc, Dave Thomas or The Colonel.

    Sorry, I just wanted to get that out. It really irks me when people make remarks that suggest that we could all be so much better off by preventing obesity than by actually addressing some of the real killers out there. I’d much rather see us bring back DDT and take out the brutal regimes than worry about trans fats in my junk food.

    • Anonymous

      err…READ the article: “Think of obesity. It is ONE of the leading causes of preventable death worldwide.”

      and it is.

  • Anonymous

    Anon @ 12:57: You are right, it is not worldwide, it nearly is in the United States (the article has been updated):

    See here (https://www.doctorslounge.com/primary/articles/obesity_death/)

    In 2000, poor diet including obesity and physical inactivity caused 400,000 U.S. deaths — more than 16 percent of all deaths and the No. 2 killer. That compares with 435,000 for tobacco, or 18 percent, as the top underlying killer.




    • Rupert in Springfield


      Let me guess – Navy SEAL training ?

      • JOHN N HART




  • Andrew Plambeck

    Dead on. Is this a collaboration, or would someone like to attach his or her name to the post?

    It’s time for better. We thought new media might take over as the accessible source of information for ALL THE PEOPLE, the way it was with television and radio before that. Why was Tom McCall so successful in his run for governor? The people of the state had been seeing him report the news for years. Why was Rick Dancer so unsuccessful? Even folks in Eugene couldn’t place him because TV news is either 1) uninteresting or 2) unnewsworthy, each of which turns off a subset of the population.

    The only chance we have left is for direct engagement. We need to have people forming their own town hall discussions without any elected officials in attendance, then publishing the results through blogs, etc. We need to have a face-to-face dialogue if we actually want to educate and learn from the people of Oregon.

    I’ve been thinking about creating a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan apparatus to facilitate such discussions. We could hold 30-min educational seminars about state revenue/spending, then have an hour+ of discussion about how people feel about that and other issues. The whole thing could be recorded and then a synopsis could be published on a blog the next day. Over time, these meetings and synopses could be drafted into quarterly/annual/biennial/whatever reports to create a common vision for Oregon’s future.

    What do folks think?

  • Tired of Smug Oregon whiners

    A Change of the Argument
    Unbeknownst to many, policy discussions are not simply emotional appeals. There is such thing as history, precedent, philosophy, literature, myth, science, and natural law. Debates should be, and must be, informed by a holistic intellectual approach.

    While this predictable and wimpy statement is decent enough as far as it goes, you clearly have no respect or knowledge of the reality of policy/political discussion in our country. Your statement has just a little too much of the stench of a snotty, elitist lecture rooted in an unearned sense of entitlement. Policy discussion in the political square is about a would-be leader instilling a gut-feel in a voter that he or she will fight for the values that voter holds dear. This is a rather bloodless statement that in the end amounts to little more than intellectual masturbation. And will have about the same effect.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah wouldn’t it be great if everyone got along while we get another amnesty, cap and trade and nationalized health care? And some more stuff?

    On your list.

    I disagree about television and cable subscription. Maybe get a DVR, skip the commercials and stay clear of the junk, but there’s plenty of worthwhile programing.
    I like history programming, science, news/commentary and UFC.
    This conservative even checks out Olberman and Maddow.

    • Many have Unsubscribed from the daily newspaper and read it and more online.
    I still get the wrapper and also read online while reading the paper with my morning coffe.
    • Call talk radio and express your views. Well yeah!
    • Write a letter to the editor. Oh I don’t know about that. A little old hat and worn out.
    Better to post comments on the stories.

    • Don’t let yourself be defined? Huh? I don’t think there is any letting but I am conservative so how is my being defined as a conservative a problem?

    • Vote according to principle and reason. Not based on party.
    • Live what you believe. Believe what you live.


    • Read. Research. Remember.

    Of course and that should lead you to realize what BS AGW-climate change is and why the debate is heated.
    In other arenas such as amnesty and the current health care issue the debate follows similar upheavals.

    • What’s your suggestion?
    I suggest people, primarily on the left, respond to what their oppostion is actually saying and stop redefining their remarks and position in order to re-make their own case.

    • MacDude

      I agree that the yelling is ridiculous and the news spent way too much time time and gave too much credence to idiots who challenge Obama’s citizenship. They report on the yelling at town halls but never inquire to what people are yelling about.

      I have to disagree however that Democrat and Republicans are “equally as bad” or that conservatism and progressiveness are just merely different points of view. During the Bush years, people were arrested and detained for wearing t-shirts that disagreed with the president’s view. At Obama’s town halls there’ a nut job outside with a gun and still not arrested. Republican’s like Sarah Palin create lies and misdirections to get people riled up.

      You are also mistaken that Charter schools and home schooling have proven better than public education. In fact the opposite is true. While there are a few well run charter schools and some home school children succeed and do well, most charter schools close or are re taken over by the public system within 5 years. Most home schoolers cannot pass the SAT well enough to get into a state college. Many home schoolers have totally wrong ideas like the world is only 6000 years old and evolution does work. Religious schools tend to do better to do better because they are selective. They don’t have to educate everyone so they don’t. Public schools have take everyone from the mentally challenged to the top achievers. Private schools often screen for just top achievers.

      There are real issues that do need real discussion. That is why I applaud the president for his “beer summit”. He took a hot button issue (police racial profiling) and cooled down h rhetoric considerably. The two men involved did talk without yelling and although they did not come to an agreement, they made plans to talk again. When has a hot issue like race ever been so smoothly handled? Maybe we could get some Pro Life and Pro Choice advocates to sit down over a beer, glass of wine or cup of coffee and have a discussion with the TV cameras out of range and tlk without yelling and maybe discuss common goals like reducing teen and unwanted pregnancy or dealing with spread of STI’s among the youth today.

      No, there is a difference and the labels (parties) do exist for a myriad of reasons. I agree with that it’s important to get past the labels and to discuss the ideas with out the acrimony and with an eye toward effective solutions.

      But that’s just my opinion…or is it?

    • addy

      “I suggest people, primarily on the left, respond to what their oppostion is actually saying and stop redefining their remarks and position in order to re-make their own case”

      Fair enough.. but please tell me what the rational response is to people yelling that our president is not a citizen,end of life counseling is a plot to kill old people, and comparing health care reform to Hitlers final solution.

      I’ve been more than happy to discuss and argue actual points with conservatives anytime they make one. But lately either there arent any real points being made, or its being drown out by your whack job fringe extremists. Whichever of those is the case, the bottom line is it is your own parties fault. Either they’re propagating nonsense, or allowing those propagating it to use their parties name, and suffer no rebuke.

      • Troller

        Again, due diligence in this area would lead to a deeper understanding of what you’re dealing with.

        The grassroots concern is not that it’s a single payer system, its about centralizing control of health issues into the hands of a government that doesn’t even read the laws it passes anymore.

        More often than not, I find that the points given on FOX and such always fall short of the serious issues. For instance, in all this talk of the nationalized healthcare system, has anyone discussed issues of privacy of medical records, or should they just forward everything to the DOJ’s fusion centers?

        Most of the hyper-sensitivity to rumors of apocalyptic legislation are exacerbated, not by the shallow drivel spewn by talking heads, but by the clearly stated intentions of some very influential people, and how closely said legislation can be said to achieve their ends as promised. Just Google “NWO Quotes” for a taste of how deeply entrenched in history some of these concerns are.
        Credible or otherwise, at the very least, some tough questions are raised about the direction we’re headed in.

        “Whack jobs” are the ones who see rainbows in the garden hose spray and assume there are chemicals in the water. Try not to assume everyone is that naive.

        Any reasonable person can look at the failures of history and see them being intentionally repeated by those with motive, means and opportunity… then try to raise the warning flag only to be ignored and labeled an extremist, thereby feeding ones suspicions further… I hear of so many ‘liberals’ that have gone through this and they get labeled right-wing extremists too. Figure that out.

  • Pnoyb

    If I cancel my newspaper subscription, how will I read my letter to the editor?

    • Anonymous

      Read it online.

  • EBP

    This is all well and good but didn’t we just have an election a few months ago where people had the opportunity to invoke change. And they did. We voted in Obama. So get over it. You reap what you sow.

  • yerrago

    ++ Very well said. Simply boiled down the basics. Just wish the world were a lot simpler and that good ideas get the wind behind their back. If we were to fly off to another planet and learn from our mistakes and start anew, this is a very good prescription.

    But the world, especially as viewed from the prism of one who has seen Western civilization bastardized and ideals twisted for personal benefit, systems and laws gamed by every special interest, I can’t help but resign myself to how slow things can change. The status quo is so embedded that it will take massive amounts of suffering in the US for people to really take change to heart. Then again, it may never happen as suffering breeds fear, and fear gives way to hate.

    The United States has reached its peak. Its idealism is lost. It can never be recovered. Another continent or another planet needs to be discovered and a new nation started, free from the structures and legacies of a flawed past.

  • SJ

    Nothing will change until we STOP believing that government is the tool by which we change our nation. Government is in the business of promoting more government. The government that solves problems will not be needed and will have to get smaller. That is not what we have been seeing from either party despite both sides offering solutions or change. STOP abdicating your responsibility as citizens. We pass our responsiblity to fix things off to the government. We say “here’s more tax money. go away and fix the problem and leave me alone with my xbox or ballgame or Facebook”. The political debate is a symptom. Apathy and laziness are the true problem.

  • Jeremy

    AMEN! My thoughts exactly but spoken / written better than I could ever hope to do.

  • Krieger9

    Talk to your friends, speak with your neighbors. Sure politic discussions can get heated and even uncomfortible, but the debat is what it is over power and control. It will always be that way as long as it works. The American voter has created this problem. Demand with your votes. Demand with your viewership. Demand with your dollars. And then convince other to do the same. It’s all a bunch of worthless bitching until the voters start to take back what’s theirs.

  • Jbiz

    We need to change everything. They should outright ban lobbyist for one.


  • C. Kemp

    I find it odd that you would advocate switching off cable & ending your newspaper subscription, yet encourage people to call into talk radio shows & write letters to the editors (of the papers that no one should be reading…). Let me offer a couple of alternatives:

    1. Don’t waste your time calling shock-talk radio. They screen the calls, and are not interested in discourse, just drama. They will only air an opposing viewpoint if they think they can make you look stupid or crazy.

    2. Pay attention to NPR – it is still one of the best sources for news in this country. Support your public broadcasting affiliates, too.

    3. Seek out international news from international sources – BBC is a good start.

    4. Don’t just pull the plug on your cable/newspapers/etc without calling/writing them and TELLING THEM EXACTLY WHY. The main reason they do what they do is because the execs, the bean-counters, etc. think that THIS IS WHAT YOU WANT. If you tell them otherwise, they might actually change. If you simply blow them off, they will continue to pander to the lowest common denominator.

    “Seek first to understand, then be understood” – Stephen Covey

  • ConcretelyAmbiguous

    I agree that everything needs to be changed. Unfortunately for every change needed and referred to above, there’s millions of people for each (self interests included) that will stop at nothing to make their personal/professional agendas happen. We’re all fighting each other which leads to a muting of the actual changes happening.

    We’re much too busy worrying about the First Lady’s legs.

  • Jordan

    When did David Letterman make fun of Palin’s son?

  • Buddyskywallker

    great article.

  • Anonymous

    The Progressive movement came from the socialist movement because it sounds better than being a socialist.

  • The laughing Man

    *HELP WITH THE WORLD INSTEAD OF COMPLAINING* https://individual11.webs.com

Stay Tuned...

Stay up to date with the latest political news and commentary from Oregon Catalyst through daily email updates:

Prefer another subscription option? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, become a fan on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

Twitter Facebook

No Thanks (close this box)