People have a sense of adventure that finds perfect outlet in coming to Alaska. Staying here for a major portion of one's life requires a hearty spirit and strong will. To think otherwise is to ignore Alaska's biggest Saturday morning activity garage sales hosted by those heading south. Though modern technology does its best to smooth our lives around the edges, Alaska is a land filled with rugged individualists. This truth has a profound influence on our politics.
In the end, politics is mostly about money the people's money. Alaskans are as proud of their self reliance as of their generosity. But taxation is forced generosity. It comes not from the heart but from an oftentimes grudging concession to the benefits and obligations of public works. And we have fully earned the right to be skeptical of government's ability to spend money wisely.
Balancing public needs against the individual nature of human beings is political artistry. That we fail often is proven by the number of politicians who get bitten at the ballot box. When you despair of the meanness in politics, it's good to remember that even the bristling and barking of a dog is based on an instinct to protect and defend.
It seems the nature of many people to believe we live in unusually turbulent times. Quite naturally, they tend to place the blame for this on the misguided thinking of others.
From my vantage point of a lifetime here, it seems natural and normal that Alaskans are not all on the same page. But we are all here at the same place in time and our common needs cannot be held hostage to our differences.
To ensure progress and maintain stability, the challenge is not to search for the next visionary political warrior. It is simply to search for individuals who can find common threads in this Alaskan tapestry and weave it just a little bit more.
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