U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., campaigned for president on hope and change — something different from politics as usual. What we have is the same old same: rhetoric, sophistry and vilification of the opposition with populism over pragmatism and an America even more divided with each political generation.

The two-party system is a feeding frenzy school of automatic adversarial sharks without the professional courtesy usually afforded amongst the mostly lawyer members, not to bite each other. The adversarial format works in court but is sabotage to our young democracy.

President Obama encourages civility even as he berates and attacks politicians, pundits and even polls that dare to disagree with him. Civility, objectivity and principled debate have become quaint notions in a narcissistic world for which the Founders’ vision of productive debate has been subverted to self-serving political sport ... fueled by special interest groups and constituents who have discovered, as Thomas Jefferson feared they eventually would, the power to vote their own largesse.

Did President John F. Kennedy have this in mind when he asked us to consider “not what your country can do for you,” but “what can you do for your country”?

We citizens have become but slaves to the power of rhetoric, sophistry, emotion and populism over pragmatism. It is impossible to have gray matter between your ears without an opinion and easier to form one with minimal information. This is how they want us. Pawns. Don’t be. Know well your core values and principles. Stick with them that you may stay always above the demagogues and informed versus inflamed.

Make the effort, seek the truth in multiple sources. We can’t trust the politicians, and today’s media have their own agendas, too.

Stan Rynott

forensic social worker