Thursday, October 8, 2009

Politics as Usual?

First off, let me say that I'm 100% for Creigh Deeds for Governor. He's smart but modest, he has ideas, not soundbites, and, as a senator, he has been a reliable vote on issues of importance to me -- the environment, education and women.

Yet, I'm having a hard time finding my role in this election. After decades of phone banking and canvassing, I really want a younger generation to take on those tasks. I've volunteered for other things but so far, I've mostly just made modest financial contributions, responded to a few blogs on line and written to a newspaper ombudsman when I read coverage I thought was unfair and superficial.

I'm writing this because I find myself more interested in taking walks, birding or visiting friends or planning to view the fall colors. What's wrong with me? I' advertise myself as woman poltiico, but I don't feel very politico.

Maybe it's because my work -- environmental advocacy -- involves a lot of politics with a small "p." I am constantly thinking about how to approach an issue, how to articulate it, where to press the advantage, who the allies will be, who the opponents, what next steps to take to advance the ball forward.

I'm tired. I need this time of revival.

I want to look at the leaves. I even want to rake leaves. And after viewing Ken Burns "National Parks: America's Best Idea," I want to visit those parks I've never seen -- like Arches and Zion -- and re-visit others -- Crater Lake, Glacier, Yellowstone -- and re-re-visit places like Shenandoah, Hatteras National Seashore and Acadia, which are my sacred places where I first truly felt the importance of nature in my life.

But Virginia poltiics doesn't allow any time for revival. Every year, we have an election -- last year, President, Congressman (Perriello - yay) and Senator, this year, Governor, Lt. Gov, Attorney General and House of Delegates. Next year it'll be Congress again and the year following, the Virginia House of Delegates AND Senate. And on and on ...

Meanwhile at the national level (and the state level), it feels as though politics doesn't stop after the election. Congress is in a battle over health care -- the Republicans don't want to give anything that the President might want. There are real areas of disagreement, but there are also those that simply want to use this issue for political gain.

I'm tired of this politics-as-usual. I want more focus on the issues. In the Governor's race, I want people to be involved and interested in who will lead our state over the next four years instead of just asking "what's in it for me?" As a former politician, I know people need to feel invested, but I wonder what will make them wake up and realize: They're OUR schools, our kids and grandkids who will need the education of the future, our mountains, ocean and Chesapeake Bay that need protecting, our collective community that needs to recommit itself to the common good and to vote for the person who will truly seek to find the common good through working with all people of good intentions, not just those in his/her own party. We need the bridge builders, not the bomb throwers.

It's funny that I'm writing this after having experienced this evening a very beautiful meeting with a small group from my church. There, I felt the peacefulness of giving oneself over to trying to discern the will of God and even spoke about how that had manifested itself in my life in very real and strong ways. Unlike some, I'm not trying to bring God into politics but I am trying to figure out how what we learn about relationship in the church can also apply to how we act collecively and politically --tolerating differences and appreciating similarities and finding a way to achieve the common good for the larger community. Sphere: Related Content