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Gary Smith: Neither party’s exactly heroic

I am responding to Tom Durkin’s well-written column about Jan 6. There were some interesting points about our democracy, but sadly there is only one party referenced as the problem. Both big parties are racing to the bottom.

Unfortunately losing candidates claiming they were done wrong is said by both parties. John Kerry and Stacy Abrams come to mind.

Durkin talks about voting law changes and states that “19 states with Republican-dominated legislatures and governors are putting democracy at risk.”



When there is one party rule in any state, the ruling party changes voting law to their advantage. It has everything to do with winning, nothing else. It’s happening here in California, as well.

It is the people’s job to keep the parties in check and limit their power. Nobody’s chosen party is the hero coming to our rescue.




This is an old problem getting worse. President Washington feared the political parties’ toxic effect on our government. His 1796 farewell speech contained this about the parties: “It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection.”

Our two big parties are increasing our division, thanks to their big lie. The lie is the other side is not just wrong, but evil and must be defeated at all costs.

This started in 1992 when President Clinton was elected and has gotten worse. President Trump is not the cause, just the symptom, though he has taken it up a notch.

I was so hopeful when President Biden was elected. He started his political career when the two parties used to compromise and treat each other with respect. I thought, if we could just do that again, maybe we could turn this mess around. He campaigned on bringing unity and ending the chaos.

Sadly it is business as usual. I have never been so disappointed with my president.

The loud extreme sides of each party have grown to an unmanageable size and are running the show. The bullying of anyone that remains in the center of each party is over the top. President Eisenhower said this about the party extremes: “The middle of the road is all of the usable surface. The extremes, left or right, are in the gutter.”

The news media have their part to play. They are fueling everything I have mentioned because it sells. We need to make it not sell. In my youth yellow journalism was confined to supermarket checkout aisles, television news was without opinion and pretty accurate.

Now media outlets have picked a side, their reporting is filled with opinions and lies for a one-sided audience. They are private businesses, which is their right (except NPR).

Social media have a slightly different part. They are private businesses and can censor user content. I don’t agree with censorship, but if we don’t log on to them or watch their station, this garbage will change.

Twitter ,an American company, had permanently banished sitting U.S. President Trump after Jan. 6 while allowing the Afghan Taliban to communicate even though they kill American soldiers and whip women in the streets.

Americans should be outraged by this policy and boycott Twitter. We have free speech in America and can choose what we read and listen to. I don’t care what President Trump says.

You get the government you elect. If we vote for the preferred party candidate because they are the lesser of two evils, then nothing will change. It amazes me that the religious right can vote for Trump even though he had an affair with a porn star while his wife was pregnant.

Think long term, not just the present election. If we don’t vote for third party candidates or independents because they will lose, then nothing will change. Research your issues and candidates. If we want to strengthen democracy, it is up to us, not our government.

Democrats and Republicans as a party don’t care about us. They only care about their special interest groups. The 2020 campaigns for president and Congress spent about $14 billion. Do you really think they care about you?

While I agree our democracy has political problems, our biggest threat to democracy is our $29 trillion debt our children and grandchildren will never be able to repay. Our government will become so in debt that it will eventually cease to function. That’s another column for the future.

But which will sink democracy first, political dysfunction or debt?

Gary Smith lives in Grass Valley.


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