Aug 31

Do It in the Kitchen, Not the Bedroom

Do It in the Kitchen, Not the Bedroom

by Rob Kendall

I describe myself as a recovering idealist. During my two years in elective office, I have come to the realization that I will never have 100 percent of the government I want; in all honesty, I will be lucky to attain 50 percent of what I desire. Faced with this reality, I wrestled with how I might respond to this disappointing state of affairs? Should I pack up all my toys, channel my inner Cartman, and shout, “screw you guys, I’m going home?” Sure I could, but what does that achieve? I have decided to forgo my initial desire and take a different path. My goal has transformed into a desire to attain as much reform as I can, within the confines of the system.

This means developing solutions with realistic expectations. During a recent radio roundtable discussion that I participated in, I kept hearing calls for the government to be completely removed from education. This is a nice desire for many, as good teachers are often stymied by government requirements and red tape, but it will never happen. There will always be a public education system, overseen by government, and paid for by taxpayers. So why even propose something like eliminating government from the equation? What good does it achieve?

Today’s polarized political climate has turned into a tug of war match with the public being torn apart in the middle. Sure, there are issues where lines should be drawn in the sand, but those are rare. On most topics, some form of compromise can and should be offered. The question becomes where can common ground be found. My advice is to stay out of the bedroom and head to the kitchen.

Gay marriage and family planning, especially with younger voters, are not simple issues. They are wedge issues, which serve to strengthen support with some and further alienate others. Only in golf can a wedge liberate you from a sand trap. In politics, a wedge will cause you to rapidly sink into political quicksand. If you wish to be heard, you need to stay focused on ideas which resonate with most people. If you want to turn a concerned citizen into concerned citizens, people should spend time talking about solutions for issues that impact almost every person encountered.

These common concerns are referred to as kitchen table issues, because they are topics discussed around almost every kitchen table in America: the economy, infrastructure, quality of life, and education. Whether you are a homosexual, heterosexual, Christian, atheist, pot smoking hippie, and/or straight edge punk rocker, all need a means of transport to carry them away to a job or other activity, which they have been educated for in order to attain a satisfactory life. Kitchen table issues usually do not make headlines, but talking about them consistently, showing concern for an individual’s economic betterment, and providing viable solutions could lead to a real improvement in society.

This is not to say that other issues are not important or relevant, but it is hard to convince others to change their mind about bedroom issues. If you want to make a difference in politics, you need to listen to more Kenny Rogers. “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.” You need to run away from the bedroom and enter the kitchen.


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