My interest in political decision-making has piqued during the last several years. I'm sure many other Forum readers have likewise spent more time trying to become informed.
Our Christmas season is again upon us. It is when I tend to recall some of the gifts I was given (or gave to others) as a youth that made gift-giving memorable. This year, my Etch-A-Sketch toy came to mind. I still have it.
This device came on the market around 1960. Two rotating knobs individually controlled a stylus that could be moved horizontally by one and vertically by the other. By painstakingly moving both knobs at the same time, you could move diagonally and make curving lines. Behind the screen were polystyrene beads (aluminum dust) that adhered to the inner surface of the screen. The moving stylus tip left a dark line on a light gray background. If you didn't like your etched design or wanted to create a new one, you simply shook the device when upside-down to clear the screen.
The tough part was mastering the making of diagonal or curved lines. That required fine turning of both knobs together in a cooperative and coordinated way. It was much, much easier to move the stylus left to right or up and down. So it is in our over-politicized nation. The ideal of reasonable compromise in laws passed or executive orders given seems like the endless search for the Holy Grail of sound national decision-making.
I would view our recent U.S. legislative contentiousness and political wrangling extended to the executive branch as being represented by haphazard and zigzag lines crossing the face of the Etch-A-Sketch's "Magic Screen," which is what they named it. When something is agreed on by both houses awaiting a Presidential signature, we would symbolically see diagonal stylus lines, gently curving and smooth as if both parties and houses were committed to working together and yielding toward a reasonable compromise. However, the formula for this does not come in any rule book!
I am at a loss to suggest a specific remedy for our current political discord. That will take time. How much? I don't know. For starters, the political left and right need to become less extreme in their liberal and conservative stances. That would surely be a magical moment on the screen of politics.
Randall Wehler is a resident of Moorhead
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