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An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil—he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

First People - The Legends. Cherokee Legend of Two Wolves. November 16, 2004. [accessed April 7, 2012].

Sunday, March 21, 2010

County executive campaigns running towards a political center are unelectable in Prince George's County

If you run for elected office in Prince George’s County, and you run towards the center as a moderate, you cannot win, for politics here are all about the extremes. Prince George’s County would never consider electing an executive who pledged to be radically moderate, and who would reach out to all sides of any issue. Instead those who seek the edges of political ideology and work to label colleagues in such a way as to guarantee no cooperation in the future are the ones most likely to win an election.

We cauterize our debates and personalize our positions relegating polite and meaningful dialogue to the warehouse of tired tropes. To win we need to run campaigns based upon personal attacks and innuendos. The actual needs of the county are secondary to establishing ad hominem dominance. We are therefore a county of personalities and not solutions. Instead of working on a platform that would reestablish dialogue with all parties in the political conversation, we work to discredit each other for perceived past failings rarely related to the pressing problems of the present.

We should be working towards a consensus government of conversation around the political center reaching out for ideas from all parts of the continuum of political discourse. The ideas about job creation should be a priority in our public conversation, not the silence of mean spirited personal attacks of style. How are we going to bring long lasting quality jobs to Prince George’s County? This is the question sure to not win an election based upon charisma ad not substance. One does not win an election in Prince George’s County on a platform of moderation and deliberative consideration of all points of view. We are faced with choosing the person who can best corral us into small special interest groups playing each of us off against the other. The next county executive will not win by running on the idea that almost every group has something worthwhile to offer to our ongoing challenges.

We are assured that because our politicians run from the silent center to the noisy extremes that the next county executive will sooner or later be pitted against the planning board and the county council by the very same special, local, parochial interests that were aggregated together to elect him or her in the first place. New ideas created from a broad outreach to a wide range of political positions are a death warrant for election as the next county executive. We, the voters, feed the dynamic urge to cater to local fringes of special interest and this, by necessity, demonize those that may be in disagreement. As an example, we have a demonstrable inability to connect land use and our development community to the environmental preservation and justice constituencies. In this county you are for one or another; never both.

I would love to run for county executive on a platform of common cause with multiple competing special interests. The very idea dooms any thought of electability to the dust bin of the hopeless causes. We can see now the impossibility of a candidate who offers to listen to both unions and business and is willing to craft a consensus position. Instead our politicians will pick one or the other as if the positions are mutually exclusive, polar antagonists that are never to be reconciled one with another. This county like many jurisdictions is trapped in the idea that doing the same thing over and over again will someday give us a different result. We support personalities not position, and anyone who would try to listen and build bridges must be a dreamer and therefore a loser.

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