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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Cary Brunswick
It's time for warmer relations with Cuba
It has been 55 years since Fidel Castro and his bands of nationalist fighters and supporters took over the government of Cuba. The United States immediately took issue with that regime change, and ever since has had serious problems with the tiny nation just south of the Florida Keys.
Unconventional events changed my outlook
On the night of Aug. 28, 1968, I put away my books, turned on the 13-inch, black-and-white television and sat down to check on the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. I hadnâ€™t planned to watch it, since Vice President Hubert Humphrey was supposed to be a shoo-in for the presidential nomination. But I had heard reports on the radio of unrest both inside and outside the convention hall, so I decided to tune in.
Keystone XL pipeline is still a terrible idea
It is hard to believe, in fact unbelievable, that a government report could claim that the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline would have no major impact on the environment and not contribute to more airborne carbon pollution.
We shouldn't trade privacy for security
If it were not for Edward Snowden, President Barack Obama would not have been making a major speech Friday about the government's massive spying program, acknowledging that debate about surveillance practices is important and will "make us stronger."
I'm pleasantly surprised by Pope Francis
When some Internet websites reported just before Christmas that the pope had made some startling remarks about Catholic doctrine, my first reaction was that, "boy, was I ever wrong about Francis being a rotten choice for pope.''
- Tuesday, December 24, 2013
After 15 years, sharing my words still worthwhile
I keep wondering, if our high court had not declared George W. Bush president after the 2000 election, what would I have written about during those eight years that he led the nation.
- Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Obama knows if you've been bad or good
``This weather is terrible,’’ the president said to an aide as he boarded Air Force One for his flight to the North Pole. ``I was expecting all this snow and ice up there, but not here in Washington.’’
- Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Instead of boycotting, buy locally
Buy Nothing Day, that international day of protest against rampant consumerism, is traditionally reserved for Black Friday in the United States and for the next day, Saturday, in other countries.
- Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Don't expect high scores from hungry students
It seems odd, almost irrational, to hear all the talk of the new Common Core teaching methods and tests to measure student and teacher performance without first figuring out how to address the biggest problem many schools face: poverty.
- Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Obama's stuck between a rock and a hard place
Poor President Obama. If he hasn't had a rough enough time of it dealing with House Republicans lately, now the facts are surfacing that we have been spying on dozens of world leaders, many our allies.
- Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Common Core had little input from educators
It seems as though every decade there are reforms, new curriculums or so-called higher standards coming out of Washington or Albany to make our schools and students perform better. They have been going on in earnest for 30 years now with no end in sight.
- Tuesday, October 1, 2013
This shutdown stuff is making me nauseated
When my daughters were teenagers, they sometimes read a magazine called ``YM'' for ``Young and Modern.'' The publication had a regular feature titled ``Most Embarrassing Moments,'' where alleged teen girls would write in about publicly humiliating experiences, usually concerning with their bodily functions.
- Tuesday, September 17, 2013
'Birmingham Sunday' was civil
On Birmingham Sunday a noise shook the ground.
- Tuesday, September 3, 2013
A round of golf can keep you in stitches
Over the decades, I've been hit with a few stray balls while on the golf course, but I'd never been hit with a golf club, intentionally or otherwise, until last week.
- Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Lyme disease isn't the only tick malaise
An old friend who died recently had spent decades fighting against the health threats posed by nuclear power, fracking and many other forms of pollution. But it wasn't man-made toxins that took him down; it was a tick.
- Tuesday, August 6, 2013
School district's personnel moves make little sense
It is hard to believe, I know, but for the second time in seven years the Oneonta school district will be paying $100,000 or more for an administrator to sit in the bus garage to serve as transportation director.
- Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Minimum wage, food stamps have their place
Actions by congressional Republicans this year show they apparently have declared an all-out war against low-income citizens and the poor.
- Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Halting pipeline a matter of environmental morality
Have you ever seen a photograph of the Alberta tar sands, the Canadian oil fields that would be the source of the crude flowing through the proposed Keystone XL pipeline?
- Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Privacy is a right, not a privilege
Sixty years ago, on June 19, 1953, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed in the electric chair at Sing Sing after being convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage.
- Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Book-banning has a tendency to backfire
So what does the 1960s game show ``What's My Line'' got to do with the Bloomsday festivities occurring in Dublin, Ireland, this week? Surprisingly, there is a link.
- It's time for warmer relations with Cuba