Empire editorial: Hopes for unity in 2011

Posted: Sunday, January 02, 2011

It was a calamitous year to those who yearn for political unity both inside political parties and among them, but 2010 is over at last and will not be mourned by fans of political propriety.

With its passing we add our hope that the lessons of a contentious political season filled with not-terribly-productive, thoughtful or civil dialogue will sink in for those within our state and Outside who seek to divide Alaskans with cartoonish political labels and us-against-them fear-mongering.

If they don’t wise up, it’s time for the general public to reject the cheap, sleazy and sometimes virtually anonymous soft money attacks stuffed onto the airwaves.

Our current federal contingent in Washington, D.C. features two Republicans and a Democrat. One of those Republicans had to fight her own party and a well-heeled pack of Outside interests to claw her way into office with the ultimate ‘Hail Mary’ political pass, a write-in campaign. We’re sure our delegation in D.C. will all work together in the best interests of our state as they have in the past, even if they don’t all agree on every political point.

They can get along, and so can everyone else.

We hope that those who last year polarized our state with political tripe will realize at last that the general public has lost its appetite for name-calling and would like to see some things simply get done.

Here’s hoping that even the most jaded among the state’s professional political manipulators is more than a little tired of the constant, face-kicking garbage that poured from our TV screens and radios until November’s election blessedly turned off the tap.

A small bit of hope might be found in Alaska’s own senatorial soap opera, where if through nothing else but fear and cynicism many Republicans, Democrats and probably a couple of Greens threw support to a Republican who they perceived to be not as dangerous as the other Republican.

That’s the voters’ version of a Hail Mary pass.

Pundits on the left suggested that Lisa Murkowski’s write-in bid would split the ‘sanity vote’ and leave the way open for GOP nominee/Tea Party Express candidate Joe Miller to blaze a path to Washington, D.C. worthy of General Sherman.

Miller-ites, who imported their financial Kool-Aid from California and New York in the form of donations and attack ads, seemed sure voters would go for ‘change,’ and ‘change the people in Washington.’ Another candidate recently ran on the platform of change for the sake of change. He’s the president now, but is ‘change’ the wagon to hitch one’s campaign to, especially when wooing conservatives?

Murkowski, who right-wingers certainly see as a moderate and lefties often see as a standard, right-wing business-as-usual politician, counted on her name recognition and a mass liberal defection from the only real liberal in the race -- Scott McAdams. She also had a boost from the support of the late Ted Stevens and it all worked to squeak her past a Republican opponent moderates despised.

What if people simply kept working together even when there is no scary opponent to unite them across party lines? We’re a small enough state population-wise that it just makes good sense to move past stigmatizing opposing viewpoints and demonizing those one disagrees with.

In the end, there are 49 other states out there. We have two senators, one seat in Congress and 710,231 residents according to the new U.S. Census estimate. There are plenty of battles to fight for Alaska. It’s time to stop fighting each other and ignore the ruckus kicked-up by those who wish to distract and divide.

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