Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Whose Mess? Maybe Ours

Writing of "The Turbulent Fifties," the 1850s in America, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin writes:

"The America of 1850 was a largely rural nation of about 23 million people in which politics and public issues-at every level of government-were of consuming interest. Citizen participation in public life far exceeded that of later years. Nearly three fourths of those eligible to vote participated in the two elections of the decade.

"The principal weapon of political combatants was the speech...(snip)
The issues and declamations of politics were carried to the people by newspapers--the media of the time. Newspapers in the nineteenth century, author Charles Ingersoll observed, "were the daily fare of nearly every meal in almost every family; so cheap and commo, that, like air and water, its uses are undervalued."

We were a nation of newspaper readers, a nation of newspapers, and a nation of people for whom a continued interest in and participation in politcs was not only an entertainment, but a passion. Now, why to I quote this?

Because it seems to me that all of us, as American citizens and as voters, bear a certain responsibility for the current shameful moral condition of both sides of the aisle in Washington. We don't pay attention, we don't vote, we avoid the discussion of politcal affairs at 'polite gatherings,' we have lost passion for self-government that motivated those but barely removed from the revolution. And we have not demanded better of the press.

I have said this before, but it deserves repeating. Some of our fellow bloggers deserve more credit for pointing our noses in the direction of bad political smells than Tucson's two dailies. Just imagine what sports reporting would be if they reported on sports the way they report on Arizona's political life. No backgrounders, no high school, and forget basketball untill the Final Four.

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