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Today I enjoyed an excellent conversation over dinner with my peers. Two conservatives, a European socialist (as an ignorant conservative might describe her), two fairly neutral onlookers, and myself came together to .  If only our politicians would embark o our conversation.  Perhaps then our country would not look so foolish.

We were quick to agree the media frenzy and poor advertisements from both parties were a kick in the face to the American people.  Fake birth certificates?  Had Obama not been truly American I doubt this fact would have made it through his time in the Senate let alone a campaign and three years in the White House.  And indirectly insinuating that Romney caused the death of a woman through Bain Capital’s closings?  The stupidity of such an unbelievable notion only weakens any true connection between his career at Bain and his presidential aspirations.

Tonight we passionately but civilly discussed everything from abortion and the political right of religion to the purpose of welfare and the ignorant utilization of economic and political isms.  We found common ground on the need to focus on the issues and the policies rather than the people and party politics.  This is what we found:

On isms: We must judge anyone who uses the terms socialism, communism, capitalism, conservatism, liberalism, democracy, free-market to make a political point.  Europe in general has far more robust social programs, but even these cannot be called socialism.  And in our modern world there has never existed any such thing as true democracy, communism, or free-market.  Our renditions are but very imperfect representations of these theoretical constructs.

On Healthcare:  We need not agree on socialized healthcare systems to agree that our system is broken.  Denial of persons with pre-existing conditions is an atrocity, and must be corrected regardless of how we feel about mandates and taxes.  I personally applaud Obama and his administration for tackling such a difficult issue, but perhaps we should focus on those issues which have widespread support.

Instead of settling for a weak bipartisan version of an attempt to overhaul healthcare, why not begin with pressing concerns with fewer political tie-ups?  Perhaps medical malpractice?  How much of our nations healthcare costs could we cut if doctors were not afraid to do open practices and do their jobs without fearing backlash from unhappy and overly greedy patients?  Do we always need all those X-Rays, MRIs, and CAT scans, or do these procedures just serve as expensive safeguards against angry patients and opportunistic lawyers?

On Education:  Anyone who thinks education should be removed from the public sphere need be slapped.  Even if a private system would decrease costs we cannot hand the future of America’s children to a profit-driven market.  Profit motives would only widen the gap between those with and those without, and the resulting poverty, ignorance, and limited opportunity would only serve to create crime and chaos.

No, we need public education.  But we should consider how we finance it, how we hold educators accountable, and how we might motivate and support those students who lack support at home.  How can we increase the value of money we spend on education?

On Welfare:  We need welfare, pure and simple.  Welfare makes us stronger.  Welfare supports those who fall from grace so that they might pull themselves up and return to their former glory.  Medicare, Social Security, Food Stamps…these are all programs of welfare.   The question again returns to value.  Are those on welfare receiving the support they need so they might gain the tools to success?  We would rather pay for free training classes that help put people to work than lasting entitlement programs with no real incentives to improve oneself.  And why must we be tested for drugs to work, yet not to receive welfare?  It’s not about stereotyping the poor; after all, to say so means we currently stereotype all those who work.

On abortion:  Situations of rape and other atrocities aside, this is one of those we couldn’t quickly find common ground.  However, our discussion was insightful and gave us better feeling of each others’ understandings.  Perhaps there is no easy solution, yet one thing remains clear.  We cannot be single-issue voters.  Such behavior jeopardizes the validity of an election, and to what gain?  The complicated reality of bringing an issue to law ensures no small group of politicians can conquer these challenges; a much larger bipartisan force alone can create lasting change.

The Verdict:  Sometimes I wonder whether we might do better by electing those with no political aspirations than by continually supporting men and women who live and die by the laws of Washington.  If these constructive conversations can occur over dinner at college, over a drink at a small town bar, or amid family game night I do not hesitate to claim a lattice of conversation spanning our nation.  We must make our voices heard, if only in the support of a new wave of political leaders.  For more of the same will surely leave us with nothing.

On a side note, doesn’t this video just get you pumped to vote?  Sarcasm included.