Summertime, and the public is grumpy. Who can blame us?
Much of the country is suffering through blast- furnace temperatures, alternating between drought and deluge. No climate change here! Let's blow up more mountains!
Gov. Steve Beshear and most other Kentucky politicians of both parties are too much in love with coal industry money and power to notice anything is wrong.
Things are worse in Washington, D.C., where Republicans have turned a long-term debt problem into an immediate economic crisis.
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Federal commissions and most economists have said repeatedly that the way to solve the nation's debt problem is to trim entitlement spending gradually, raise taxes back to 20th-century norms and stop waging wars of choice on credit. Creating jobs is a far more important and immediate issue than eliminating debt. But Republicans don't seem to want the economy to improve until after they have beaten President Barack Obama in next year's election.
Democrats are little better; they are doing almost nothing to keep the Wall Street sharpies who created most of this economic mess from doing it again. Federal regulators are doing almost nothing to stop speculators who have pushed oil prices to ridiculous levels that have nothing to do with supply and demand.
Both major parties have become captives to special interests, corporate money and short-term political scheming. Is it any wonder so many Americans are looking for alternatives?
Everyone I know seems to be fed up, from the Tea Party right to the Green Party left. And then there are those of us in the middle, who want less political posturing and more compromise, less ideology and more practical problem-solving. Lou Zickar, a Republican columnist for CNN.com, described us Sunday as the new "silent majority."
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman sounded a similar tone the same day: "If this kind of idiocy by elected officials sends you into a hair-pulling rage and leaves you wishing that we had more options today ... help may be on the way."
Friedman's column, headlined "Make way for the radical center," was about a group of frustrated Democrats, Republicans and independents called Americans Elect. The well-financed organization claims to have gathered 1.6 million petition signatures in an attempt to get on all 50 states' ballots next year. It aspires to run a balanced, technology-driven presidential ticket that won't be beholden to special interests or major-party ideology. We'll see about that.
Kentuckians' discontent seems to be reflected in enthusiasm for perennial candidate Gatewood Galbraith, who is waging an independent campaign for governor against Beshear and his Republican challenger, state Senate President David Williams.
Galbraith, who has preached the limited-government gospel for years, seems to have a lot of support from Tea Party conservatives. He and his running mate, Dea Riley, also attended last weekend's organizational meeting of the Kentucky Green Party. They might get a fair number of votes from its members and other liberals because they are the only candidates to speak out against environmentally destructive coal-mining practices.
"An independent candidate, an independent governor stands the only chance of being able to get the best intentions of both parties to actually join together and solve these problems," Galbraith told reporters Thursday when he and Riley filed their candidacy papers.
"The first thing we need to do is establish integrity and trust in the political process itself," Galbraith added. "There are so many well-intentioned and intelligent people out there who refuse to take part in the political process because it's so demeaning and corrupt."
Few people give Galbraith and Riley any chance of winning. But in this climate — with so many voters disgusted with partisan politics — it will be interesting to see which side they take the most votes from. We could get our first indication on Aug. 6, when all of Kentucky's candidates for statewide office speak before the rowdy crowd of political activists at the Fancy Farm Picnic in Graves County.
Besides, the barbecue, fresh vegetables and homemade pies make it worth the long drive to Fancy Farm. There are some things that even politics can't ruin.