Too partisan |

Too partisan

Gerry Sandberg

As a regular reader of the letters to the editor and the commentaries in the Vail Daily I promise not to try to use big words or a dictionary in expressing my musings or rambling thoughts. The simple kind of guy I am probably precludes me from finding the word I’m looking for in the dictionary anyway.

I just want to ramble a little and make some comments and observations that have crossed my mind recently. Hopefully, some of those thoughts will strike an accord with some of you and cause you to ponder or question some of my comments, as well you probably should.

For a number of years I have watched, read about and participated in the political process here in Eagle County. I do not really care if you are a Democrat, Republican, independent or any other political action party. What I do care about is that local politics and government seem to be more and more defined along party lines as if being dictated from places higher up the political ladder, if you will.

I would venture that if you were to ask a local Democrat, Republican or independent if they cared about the quality of our streams, our forests or our economy, chances are they would all answer, “Of course.” The differences often lie in how they would take the journey to get there and they might allude to “party doctrine” in explaining their trip.

Seems like in the past that if you served on a local board, such as I did (school board), you had no idea what party affiliation other board members had, nor did you care. Decisions that were made were made based on what we thought was best for the children, education and community need, as they should have been. Of course, some of or decisions were better than others, but they were made as a board, not as a Democrat, Republican or independent. We succeeded and failed together as one on the issues, not along party lines.

Seems to me that a great part of today’s American society is made up more of haves and have nots rather than Democrats, Republicans and independents. How many children of the wealthy or politically connected were lost in Vietnam or are being lost in Iraq? Didn’t matter and doesn’t matter if they were or are Democrats, Republicans or independents. They were and are the poor and middle class Americans.

How would government function without voting along party lines? Hard-liners would probably answer with rhetoric of “checks and balances” that a two-party system is supposed to create. We all know that when one party has a majority there are no “balances.” It is more like “checkmate.”

Going back briefly to those haves and have-nots, consider this: Last year CEO’s took the following annual bonanzas home as salary, stock options and incentives.

n Reuben Mark, Colgate-Palmolive Co.,$141.1 million.

n Steven Jobs, Apple Computer, $74.75 million.

n George David, United Technologies Corp., $70.2 million.

n Henry Silverman, Cendant Corp., $54.3 million.

n Richard Fuld Jr., Lehman Bros., $52.94.

n Lawrence Ellison, Oracle Corp., $40.5 million.

n Richard Kovacevich, Wells Fargo, $35.9 million.

Now consider what the national unemployment rate has been lately and all the recent layoffs of American workers, such as Dupont cutting 3,500 jobs, etc.

Then consider that this week in India, 21 poor women and children were trampled to death at a politician’s birthday party in a rush to collect a single small gift.

I guess it’s a matter of perspective in how you explain to the thousands of American families who have lost their jobs and homes or to the families of poverty around the world that seven CEO’s in America are worth $460-plus million.

Can someone argue that with a straight face?

As long as I have mentioned the “world” in my ramblings, I might as well ask about Iraq. How do we explain the sacrifice of our youth in Iraq when North Korea, India, Pakistan and China loom more dangerous to world peace by way of nuclear arms and with known “weapons of mass destruction.” How can America be the policeman of the world, should we be the policeman, when does it stop, how does it stop? Does it stop when Iraq runs out of oil or Halliburton out of work?

How do we explain to those sons, daughters, husbands, wives and loved ones of nearly 700 Americans (so far) that their loved ones will never again be able to hold them, kiss them or speak to them? This after the president has declared the war over. Earlier I asked how many children of the wealthy or politically connected were lost in Vietnam or so far in Iraq. Who makes the decisions about going to war and for what reasons? Who decides who goes and who dies?

Speaking as a veteran, having served honorably for four years in the Marine Corps, I can personally tell you that no congressman’s child or CEO’s child was lying next to me in the mud.

I have only love and admiration for those who serve and have served in the military. I support them with all my heart. I am finding it harder and harder to support those who now send them off to war and to support the reasons they offer us for doing so.

I now must apologize for straying all over the place with this commentary and I fully understand there are many sides to all of the issues I have touched upon. I would welcome any and all input, as I certainly do not claim to have all the answers.

Bottom line and what is most troubling to me is the attitude of “It’s the other party’s fault.” I think some people use the party line to benefit themselves. Is there anyone out there who can honestly say their party is 100 percent right all the time and the other parties 100 percent wrong? If you can, perhaps you are part of the problem.

If these ramblings generate responses along party lines, that would be unfortunate. What would be nice is to see real answers and comments from real people who do not spew straight party ideology or doctrine. After all, we are all Americans first, aren’t we?

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