Jan 162007
Authors: Tara Bonistall Kentucky Kernel

(U-WIRE) LEXINGTON, Ky. – During the tumultuous years of World War II, Winston Churchill tried a new political strategy to maximize England’s chances of succeeding against the Germans. He chose the best and most brilliant minds in the country to be his political advisors – regardless of their political affiliation.

Eventually, Churchill lost the position of prime minister to a political enemy who served as an advisor during the war. But Churchill’s actions provide an important message for our present political situation: Sometimes there’s more to life than politics.

Churchill’s actions nearly 60 years ago, when he declared that “this is not a time for politics,” seem especially relevant as the new Congress begins. Leaders of both the Democratic and Republican parties have pledged that they will work together to better our country, which sounds like a wonderful idea. But doesn’t it also sound like a promise we’ve heard a few times before – one that’s never actually been fulfilled?

From international conflict to devastating internal social problems, we are arguably facing more issues today than ever before. It is clear that this Congress has a long road ahead – and also that cooperation may no longer be an option.

The votes of many constituents for the 2008 presidential election lie in what the next two years of political action will bring. If the Democrats can achieve a higher minimum wage, voters who are affected by the raise or who simply wish to see social change in our country could swing greatly toward the left. Iraq policy and key moral issues like abortion and same-sex marriage will, as always, be critical as well.

It seems that both parties will do their best to push through their own political agendas, but at a moderate pace. Neither party can afford to be labeled extreme, and both will be forced to turn their moderate pace into moderate positions. At the same time, both political parties are recognizing this as a time to take action.

For voters, this could prove to be one of two situations: an active Congress pushing through legislation that has been at a halt for years, or a group of individuals maintaining the illusion of cooperation while continuing a legacy of getting nothing done.

As an idealist who still believes in the genuine good hidden within everyone (even politicians), I am desperately trying to believe that this will be the year that changes are made. We will remember 2007 as the year that the minimum wage was increased for the first time in many years. This will be the year that women’s access to reproductive health will no longer be threatened by “trigger laws,” which some states have passed to ban abortion in the event that Roe v. Wade is overturned. And perhaps best of all, this will be the year that a solution is found for the war in Iraq. Troops will come home, and Iraq will be “saved” – not through guns and violence, but rather with humanitarian aid.

Of course, in my old age I am beginning to realize that idealism, although necessary for survival, doesn’t always translate into politics. It’s much more likely that 2007 will be the year that we see many more of the deadliest months so far in Iraq, and the minimum-wage hike will be dwarfed by tax cuts.

But this, of all times, is not a time for politics. Rather, it is a time for action and change. It is a time for our elected officials to renew our idealistic faith in the political system and live up to the cooperation they have pledged. If we wait for the next election, we will certainly be too late.

Tara Bonistall is a social work senior.

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