If the state of politics nationally and in New York state gets any worse, we’re going to need parties with drinks stronger than tea and coffee. What am I thinking? It already has gotten worse. Beer parties, anyone? Let’s hope we don’t have to hit the harder stuff. But I’m sure there will be a few kinds of parties with other refreshments before we get to that point. You can’t blame people for reaching such a high level of frustration that grassroots meetings are being organized so they can talk about how bad things are and how helpless they feel about doing anything about them. The tea partiers figuratively started dumping leaves into the harbor a year ago, mainly in reaction to Barack Obama being elected president, which meant the Democrats had control over the government _ and the new so-called liberal platform. They were fed up with big government and high taxes being used to finance an agenda they viewed as straying more and more from the core values of individualism and free enterprise on which the nation allegedly had thrived for so long. They’ve latched onto a conservative litmus test in which it appears many Republicans and so-called conservatives won’t be able to produce the correct tint. The key word for the tea partiers is ``reaction,’’ for conservative is too mild. They want to return to some idyllic though mythical past where government was small and people were left alone to pursue happiness. Unfortunately, few achieved it and many were left in destitution. Enter big government, not stage left, but center stage. Now, launched last weekend, we have the coffee parties, whose participants appear just as frustrated as the tea-baggers, but with a desire to stop the nasty name-calling and with a goal of getting money, scandal and dysfunction out of our governments. And New York state is a prime example, a microcosm perhaps, of what the hyped-on-caffeine people are talking about. From former Gov. Eliot Spitzer to former Senate leader Joseph Bruno, and from former Sen. Hiram Monserrate to former Rep. Eric Massa, it’s clear we’re in trouble and our leaders are not getting the job of governing done right at a time when we’re facing such critical issues as budget cuts and health care reform. It is no surprise that we have growing numbers of people afflicted with both reactionary and progressive hopelessness. But those descriptions can’t account for everyone. What types of beverage parties are likely to be organized next? Surely someone will try to duplicate the coffee people by using Facebook to coordinate a movement of latte or cappuccino parties to represent those who believe that what our lawmakers need to do is tune in to a ``new age’’ perspective. A little yoga before congressional sessions, Buddhist meditation on the House or Senate floor, a toss of the yarrow stalks before important votes and we’ll be on our way to a government on a wavelength with the spiritual energy that pervades all things. I can picture a few legislators getting into it right away, and who knows, if they all tried it as standard procedure, we could have a new era of bipartisanship unimaginable today. And the legislative action taken probably couldn’t be any worse. At least the wars would be halted and the value of everyone having access to health care would be appreciated. Then the espresso drinkers would emerge, hyper all, stressed out about the environment and energy policy. The trouble with their parties, however, would be the difficulty in getting a word in during the intense and rap-like debates. They do have an agenda worth its weight in small cups of black coffee, with the issues of natural gas drilling, the renewed interest in nuclear power, food safety and environmental pollution. No, congressmen wouldn’t be encouraged to recite haiku over those problems. Probably attracting the largest crowds, however, would be the beer parties. The arguments might get a bit out of control when the issues are debated over a keg, but before long most participants would get tired, take a nap and then have to start over. I’m not sure how much would get accomplished. For the over-50 crowd, there has to be a series of wine parties where discussion would be dominated by dwindling investments and retirement accounts. Though the markets have come back, many will remember with bitterness the president’s suggestion that people should be able to drain their 401(k) accounts without penalty. The grassroots origins of these beverage parties is a positive sign that people do care about what’s happening to their country, and have reached a severe stage of frustration about what they can do to change it. Of course, more involvement in elections and more people actually voting in them would be a good step. Meanwhile, if our politics gets any dirtier and more stagnant, let me know when there’s a party for the harder stuff. Cary Brunswick of Oneonta is a former managing editor of The Daily Star, editor of oneontatoday.com and a freelance writer. He can be reached at email@example.com.
- Cary Brunswick
We've become our own worst enemies
The past month has been marked by a seeming unprecedented number of man-made tragedies, as distinct from those caused by violent outbursts of the natural world, such as earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis.
Plenty of blame to go around for Bangladesh horror
After last week's act of ``corporate terrorism'' in Bangladesh, the irony is that worker advocates there are asking western consumers not to boycott the retailers or the clothing linked to the poor Asian nation's garment industry.
Obama is going against his word on Social Security
President Obama in his proposed budget posited cuts to Social Security cost-of-living increases as a way to get Republicans to go along with higher taxes on the wealthy. It's a strategy that's likely doomed to fail, and if it doesn't, it will tarnish his legacy as a Democratic president.
Reflecting on a Florida trip
After spending two months in Florida, on the southwest coast, I have returned with a few major impressions of the region's wildlife, and some experiences that are entirely unique for me.
Those magnificent spies in their flying machines
- Tuesday, March 5, 2013
2nd Amendment needs rewritten for 21st century
Over the years, I have written mostly about peace and the way our world leaders infringe upon it with war, personal freedom and the way our government tries to steal some away, and the environment, which is under constant assault by corporations.
- Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Cuomo, Obama aren't necessarily environmentalists
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and President Obama both are stalling on making major environmental decisions on energy development proposals. Meanwhile, the opposition is building as the climate-change issue gains momentum with each new statistic and extreme weather event.
- Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Like newspapers, obituaries have evolved
When I left The Daily Star a few years ago, I promised our news clerk that I would be sending along my obituary so she could keep it on file. That way, when the time came, all she would have to do is plug in the date.
- Tuesday, January 8, 2013
We get fooled again on FISA amendments
While everyone was busy teetering on the edge of the fiscal cliff 10 days ago, there was little fanfare or outrage when President Barack Obama signed a five-year extension of a Bush-era surveillance program.
- Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Fracking in N.Y. poses dilemma for Gov. Cuomo
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who could be squaring off with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, is stuck between shale and a hard place on the question of whether to allow fracking in the state.
- Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Keep up-to-date on condition of fuel-oil tank
Former Oneonta residents Rob Kamerling and Cynthia Marsh Kamerling had a lot to be thankful for this past Thanksgiving -- family, friends, good health and a new community near Boulder, Colo.
- Tuesday, November 13, 2012
U.S. inches closer to edge of 'fiscal cliff'
I'm not sure who came up with the term "fiscal cliff," but it has been bouncing around for decades with one meaning or another. Now, with looming spending cuts and an end to tax cuts at the end of the year, the phrase has become a fearful household word.
- Tuesday, October 30, 2012
My two votes for McGovern weren't nearly enough
Back in the 1960s, a verse in a folk song by Barry McGuire proclaimed ``you're old enough to kill, but not for votin'.'' That's because the voting age was 21, while you could join or be drafted into the military at 18.
- Saturday, October 20, 2012
A 'democratic' system, but with caveats
- Saturday, September 29, 2012
Violence over film goes much deeper than blasphemy
- Saturday, September 8, 2012
Calling Ryan's words 'lies' is an understatement
It's no shock to learn that our presidents lie. Nixon did it. Clinton did it. And George W. Bush did it. What is shocking is that they are so easily forgiven, or that we so easily forget.
- Saturday, August 18, 2012
A few titles to help answer the deep questions
I have had a copy of Wittgenstein's "Philosophical Investigations" in my library for about 40 years now, and only one person has ever borrowed it.
- Saturday, July 28, 2012
Crying 'Marxist' alone is not a valid argument
It is strange that so many people like to throw around the "Marxist" label whenever someone advocates a little more planning for our economy or supports a more-inclusive and less-profit-making health-care system.
- Saturday, July 7, 2012
Affordable Care Act doesn't make care affordable
When the Supreme Court upheld the health-care reforms known as "Obamacare" as constitutional last week, there were not nearly as many people cheering as there were jeering, though often those jeers were for the wrong reasons.
- Saturday, June 16, 2012
An independent bookseller reads her market well
- We've become our own worst enemies