10.01.2008 0

Time for a National Dialogue

  • On: 10/07/2008 13:17:44
  • In: First Amendment

  • Anteiglesia is not a term with which today’s politicians are particularly familiar. But, perhaps, they should be.

    In the Spanish Basque country, in the Middle Ages, anteiglesia was the name given to the periodic meetings of the local townspeople who gathered “in front of the church” to robustly discuss the important issues of the day and vote the people’s will.

    It was in some ways similar to the “town meetings” some politicians stage today – but not really. At the ancient anteiglesia, what was said actually mattered.

    This was brought to mind earlier this week when former House Speaker Newt Gingrich issued his “Plea to Republicans” listing the “real changes” the House GOP needs to make in order to “avoid real disaster.”

    Mr. Gingrich is a smart man, and there’s no doubt his wish list had merit. But, even before unveiling his list, the Speaker had one major suggestion that he obviously thought took precedent over all else. We know this because in his online version of the “Plea,” he boldfaced the suggestion and even went so far as to color it blue.

    It read: House Republicans Should Call an Emergency, Members-Only Conference.

    And that’s brings up a problem. A problem that might be resolved through the ancient practice of anteiglesia.

    Specifically, the Speaker suggested that “the House Republicans should hold an emergency members-only meeting. At the meeting, they should post this stark choice: Real change or certain defeat.

    “If a majority of the House Republicans vote for real change,” the Speaker continued, “they should instruct Republican leader John Boehner and his team come back with a new plan by he Wednesday before the Memorial Day recess.”

    Well, now, the truth of the matter is that the last thing any group of politicians in Washington needs is another closed-door, “members-only” meeting where they conjure up “stark choices” and “come back with a new plan” — whether it’s “before the Memorial Day recess,” or after the Twelfth of Never.

    Americans for Limited Government is clearly sympathetic to the notion that Republicans need to get their act together, as was recently highlighted in the piece “Endgame.” And we are 100 percent in agreement that urgency is of the essence.

    But, maybe – just maybe – it’s time for the GOP to forget about yet another “members-only” meeting (which is how they got themselves into this mess in the first place). And instead, perhaps – borrowing a page from the Medieval Basque townsfolk – they might want to actually invite in the America people.

    Instead of cloistering themselves yet again in the closeted confines of some secluded inner sanctum, perhaps the Republican members of the House might want to throw open the doors to the American people — and have a real, honest-to-goodness, no-holds-barred National Dialogue.

    That’s right, invite in the real experts in virtually every field from across the country to honestly, openly, candidly discuss the deepening problems that are besetting the country. Listen (don’t talk!) to the real experts from the fields of health care, energy, currency, taxes, budget reform, national security – and yes, even raising a happy, healthy family in modern American society.

    And instead of colluding in secret and guarding the door against outside intruders, throw open the doors to every American who cares to listen, watch, or take an active part. Now, as never before, the Internet provides the way. It’s time for the politicians to show the will.

    If the new National Dialogue takes a week, so be it. If it occasionally turns a little raucous, all the better (forget the arrant pomposity of traditional congressional show hearings – welcome in a little “sound and fury,” signifying something). And, if it forces the politicians to finally start actually listening to the folks with whom they have long since lost touch – well, finish it up with a rousing cheer and get ready for next year’s National Dialogue II.

    No, anteiglesia may not be a word with which today’s politicians are familiar. But, it should be – particularly if they want to “avoid real disaster.”

    ALG CTA: We encourage journalists across the nation to urge their audiences to contact House Minority Leader John Boehner at (202)225-6205 to express their support for an emergency conference. And also stipulate that they do not want Republicans to just talk to each other, but rather they want them to talk to experts, and to the people.


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