Others might feel that everything is about "self-interest."
I don't have a HARD LINE rule of engagement for myself. Principles apply, of course. But I try to never say never. For the most part, the bulk of my attention goes to local (family, neighborhood, city, state) matters. Sometimes I raise an international comment or mention about the war -- but those are more rare.
Among my party, there is a discussion brewing about dealing or not dealing with national issues. Talking about the war in Iraq takes away from getting people on the ballot for state-wide office and fixing the more local property tax messes.
As a guiding goal, I strive to be open-minded, prudent and effective. There are zillions of instances when I lurk, stay aware, ask questions, and allow for time to figure and ponder among peers who agree and argue. Going with the flow is fine when there is hope of educational value. I might go to a rally or picket and won't hold any sign, but mingle so as to ask questions, gather perspectives, and dig for knowledge details and personal lessons.
I don't generally blog about the war, but I do visit blogs about the war.
People also understand and want to hire (i.e., elect) local leaders with the understanding that these people often change jobs and springboard to other roles. A city councilman becomes a state senator who runs for Lt. Gov and wins a state audior general position -- like Jack Wagner, PA's Auditor General. Not that everyone needs to run for every higher office -- but the future is always rolling along. So, people don't want to elect a local official who is small-brained, cosmetic on litter patrol for his or her ward and can't see the big picture in life nor in politics.
This hiring trend with voter mindset is both a curse and a blessing. I can't defend it but do understand. For instance, we might find a great candidate for "dog catcher" who would be splendid in that role but would stink at the art of crafting legislation. If great "dog catchers" would only aspire to the dog-catcher hall-of-fame, we'd be set. But, too often we see good dog-catchers running for other offices.
Mark C, a freelance running mate of sorts, wrote this letter to the editor (not yet published):
Lt. Governor Knoll's attendance at a local serviceman's funeral ignited a storm of controversy. Family privacy, the Iraq War, patriotism, political attacks and backpedaling, and political strategies were thoroughly reported in the Pgh City Paper ("The Crass-y Knoll", John McIntire, 8/3/2005). One compelling aspect, however, escaped detection.
Knoll allegedly said that the Rendell administration opposed the Iraq War. It's not my intension to debate this she-said vs. family-heard question.
Instead, imagine if state governments routinely showed a libertarian streak and issued formal, stated positions in direct opposition to imposed federal policies. Consider state opposition to:
** The Patriot Act.
** The surveillance state.
** Out-of-control federal spending.
** Federal laws regulating firearms.
** Federal laws regulating marijuana.
** Mandatory emissions inspections.
** The Endangered Species Act.
** The income tax, its compliance and the IRS.
The above list is a fraction of the growing federal intrusions into state operations and into the lives of citizens.
Maybe it is time to reject Rendell, Knoll and their Republican counterparts who either welcome the power that comes with these intrusions or can only whisper their opposition when masked by sobbing at funerals.
Mark Crowley, Plum
I value state rights. I would like to see more open discussions. I would like to see clear distinctions among candidates among various offices. I think Mark C is on the mark with this trend.