Summer time at the beach: peaceful breezes, warm sands, and those hypnotizing little sparkles on the surface of the water. Floating along at the whim of time and tide. Sigh. It’s a tempting state of mind. But what lies beneath as you recline in your cushy, inflated rubber ring?
Undercurrents? Riptides? Are your very foundations being eroded? Will the safety of shore be where you left it?
On my summer vacation with extended family of all political shapes and sizes, there was… disquiet. But it wasn’t the typical family bickering about left and right, right and wrong. There was uniform head shaking – a mumbling unanimity of discontent. There was nodding in unison that something must be done. There was a mutual feeling of powerlessness – that things have gotten out of hand and gone too far... in both directions? My most conservative in-laws were chatting about Fox News being part of the problem. My most liberal outlaws were disgusted by NPR’s lack of coverage of recent landmark Supreme Court rulings. It was a surreal Independence Day to be sure. As a non-partisan political geek, I sat in silent, curious awe, wondering what it all meant.
Today, I find myself, with time to think and proffer some analysis – a working theory from my swinging hammock, if you will. Perhaps it is not the pendulum of left and right extremes at work in this apparent buildup to sea change? Perhaps the Fed has bit off more than it can chew, or should be chewing, depending on your position of federal roles and mandate/responsibility? Either way, all of this “stuff” that the federal government is doing poorly (or shouldn’t be doing)… Maybe the states should be doing more -- not regulating “more” (making more laws) per se, but deciding and administering locally? If national consensus is proving too complex and cumbersome to achieve, the logical conclusion might be to make more decisions and policy at the state level where local discourse might be less polarized, or at least have a larger plot of common ground on which to address the common good?
This season’s State House races should be an interesting test bed for my theory. NH has the largest body of sitting legislators in the US. That’s 424 chances to shape the coming sea change, which, by my “amateur estimation poll of opposites”, will have nothing to do with rocking left and right, but rolling instead. I like rolling. It implies momentum. And momentum has power, which would naturally be the antidote to powerlessness, right?
If the undercurrents and riptides of the national political seascape are disturbing your summer daze, take some time in a hammock near you to read up on your candidates and get ready to paddle yourself in a direction you want to go (with your well-considered vote in NH state and local elections.)