Like growing numbers of Americans, I am disgusted by what presidential historian Douglas Brinkley has accurately but politely described as the "hyper-partisanship" of today's political discourse.
We are a house badly divided. Worse yet, we're like a family where the family members can't even have a civil dinner table conversation. Actually, we can't even keep the lasagna on our plate without flinging a forkful across the table.
The Debt Ceiling Debacle is the latest stop -- perhaps the end of the line -- on the train to nowhere that the American political "conversation" has become. It's like the Democrats and Republicans are drag racing down Constitution Avenue, making obscene gestures at each other, hurtling unbeknownst (or, worse yet, knowingly) towards certain death. Only, oh yeah, we're in the backseat.
Then there is just the sheer exhaustion of daily exposure to strident, mean-spirited and jabbering politicians who have misplaced their prescriptions for chill pills. I mean, really, a roiling, broiling over-heated non-debate is absolutely the last thing we need in a summer marked with sustained record-breaking temperatures. It's saying a lot when, this July, more Americans will succumb to political exhaustion than to heat stroke.
It's all so enervating. As Huff Post blogger and Columbia University professor Trey Ellis keenly observed a few days back, "Cubs fans are less depressed than fans of a brighter American future."
Taxation without Representation -- or Sanity
The problem with this political shrilly season -- besides the fact that it is bringing us to the brink of financial ruin -- is that almost no one's point of view is being represented. This is worse than Taxation without Representation; this is Taxation without Sanity.
Who's to blame for this sorry and troubling state of affairs? Some point their fingers to the Tea Party's cold and calculated hijacking of the Republican agenda. Others blame the Pelosi-Reid Cabal (which, I was surprised recently to learn, is not an indie rock group). All I know is that 200 million or so Americans are left with no voice in what's supposed to be a representative system of government.
Well, just like Howard Beale, anchor of the fictional UBS Evening News from Network, who 35 years ago brought the nation together in frustration, I am also opening up my window to the world and shouting, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"
It is time for America to reestablish and reclaim the middle ground with a third party that we can all get behind. That's why, today, I am announcing the formation of the Arnold Palmer Party (APP). Our singular goal: to refresh the American political discourse.
Get Down with APP
Our party takes its name from the popular summertime refresher -- the Arnold Palmer -- a delightful, hard-to-resist combination of iced tea and lemonade named after that famous middle-of-the- fairway golfer (and all-around decent human being), Arnold Palmer.
I mean, really, if iced tea and lemonade -- once thought an unlikely and unappetizing combination -- can get along...
And consider this important point: the Arnold Palmer Party is steeped -- literally and figuratively -- in tradition. The Tea Party may invoke the famous goings-on in Boston Harbor 238 years ago; hell, we drink from that cup. Further, the Arnold Palmer Party is founded on that fundamental expression of American optimism and resolve: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade (and then mix it in equal parts with some fresh-brewed iced tea).
Look, the Tea Party is not without its redeeming qualities. It's hard to argue that we can blithely ignore an ever-expanding Federal government and personal responsibility is almost always a good thing. On the other hand, how much money do really rich people really need and what about the lemonade values of shared responsibility, cooperation, equality and empowerment? Which brings us to the Arnold Palmer Party.
Our party is all about solutions and reinvigoration, about ensuring that the interests of those of us who are not two standard deviations away from the middle remain front and center in the public debate on issues of consequence, and about fostering (indeed, insisting on) a constructive, respectful and unhysterical political conversation. We are founded on these five simple tenets:
•We reward collaboration and compromise, not conflict and conflagration;
•We believe in possibility and creative problem-solving;
•We only support political candidates who are civil, cooperative and well hydrated;
•We sign scorecards, not pledges;
•We believe in fair play.
Let's reclaim the political conversation. We can do this, America. Like Arnold Palmer (the golfer) once said: "The most rewarding things you do in life are often the ones that look like they cannot be done." Like everybody coming together to form an even more perfect Union, maybe?
It's time for a new "Arnie's Army" to assemble and walk the fairways of American political discourse. The Arnold Palmer Party. Join us. Because, after all, what's a party without a beverage?