Most Americans take a lawn care approach to politics.
From around mid-March through October, I spend about 90 minutes every week walking in circles around my yard, ears assailed by a deafening, monotonous drone. When I finish up, the grass looks really nice. Then, about three days later, the lawn begins to take on a bit of a raggedy look. By the next week, I have to repeat the process again.
Once I complete my weekly drudgery, I invariably begin pondering ways to make the grass just stop growing. Of course, I can’t. Grass grows. That’s its nature. Only one way exists to avoid the weekly mowing ritual. Fundamentally change the nature of my yard – as in rip out all of the grass by the roots.
American politics reminds me of lawn care. We take a top down approach. Every four years, political parties, candidates, lobbyists, PACs and everyday citizens spend billions of dollars to choose a president. For more than a year, candidates debate and jockey for position. By the time the general election rolls around, Americans have already endured a seemingly endless primary season.
And when it’s all said and done, what really changes?
The lawn care approach Americans take to politics focuses on the top, clipping a couple of inches off the grass blades, while leaving the fundamental system underneath unaffected. A look over the last 75 years, or longer, of American politics reveals the failure of this strategy. Albert Einstein gets credit for defining insanity as doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. By that definition, the time has come to straight jacket the U.S. political establishment. To bring about real change, we must do something to get at the roots. We must work from the bottom up.
As we’ve seen, the states hold the key.
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