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Take a chill pill – for America

Just in case you’ve been living under a rock or have been buried up to your eyeballs in chem. homework, I’d like to pass along Jon Stewart’s latest announcement. On Oct. 30, in Washington D.C., the host of “The Daily Show” will host his Rally to Restore Sanity, a gathering for those who feel “that the only time it’s appropriate to draw a Hitler mustache on someone is when that person is actually Hitler,” and the citizens “who feel that the loudest voices shouldn’t be the only ones that get heard.”

It is long past time for the volume level of our political discourse to be taken down a notch. And while we’re at it, can a few congressmen and women put down their copies of Schelling’s ‘Strategy of Conflict’ for a few minutes and legislate? The biggest threat to the survival of our country isn’t obesity or nuclear winter – it’s political polarization.

There are few worthwhile moderates out there anymore. Possibly Senators Snowe, Collins, and Lieberman, but we’ve been hearing their names paired a lot more often recently with the defeat of a compromise measure. We’ve bred a wonderful strain of politician that excels at finding wedge issues and goes to bed with their arms wrapped around a stack of filibuster material. They are great at getting elected, make no mistake, but that’s simply not worth $174,000 a year. I’m looking for a legislative branch that can produce legislation with moderation, and a constituency that will reelect them.

The responsibility that follows is the election of competent representatives. And the least competent candidate for that position that I’ve seen in a long time is the condom-hating, Sarah Palin look-alike and creationist from Delaware, Christine O’Donnell. She recently defeated Representative Mike Castle in the Republican senate primary, and if you haven’t heard of her, so much the better.

A New Jersey university awarded her a degree two weeks ago that she had claimed to have for 21 years. Donors to her campaign are currently picking up rent and utilities on a condo of hers that “doubl[es] as a campaign headquarters.”

Aides who worked on her last Senate campaign reported that she was more interested in getting a TV deal than winning an election. And the idea that she had been most engaged with during that campaign was a plan to distribute tens of thousands of packets of suntan lotion.

Delaware GOP chairman Tim Ross has said O’Donnell couldn’t be elected dogcatcher. But the sad reality here is that she has become a politically viable candidate just by appealing to the very loud conservative fringe element. She’s done that with a few nebulous sentiments about freedom – and she’s not the only one. Rick Scott in Florida, Carl Paladino in New York, and Paul LePage in Maine share similar stories.

We have been relatively safe in Ohio. Tea Partiers have largely taken root in other states, and one could hope that more reasonable minds would prevail here. At the very least, let’s all remember to air our political disagreements with a little civility over the next month. As Stewart pointed out, “I disagree with your policies, but I don’t think you’re a socialist.” Can we give that a whirl?

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