Let’s move beyond partisan isolationism for our nation’s sake

By Saba Long

As the saying goes, politics stops at the water’s edge. But these days the tides of partisanship are eroding our shores. The edge isn’t where it used to be.

If the past 12 years of war are any indication, as a country we’ve embraced our role as interventionists, long moved from the 19th Century notions of approaching foreign policy with an isolationism mindset.

We have military and foreign affairs personnel across the globe; we’ve brokered international elections and ceasefires; and we’ve made attempts at aiding nation building.

And yet the country is drowning in the isolationism of partisan politics.

Look no further than our own state. In less than 12 weeks, Georgia voters will elect a new U.S. Senator and possibly a new governor. The primary elections made evident that many voters are disengaged; it is as if they’re watching the same movie for the 100th time.

The scenes include: no new taxes, more money for K-12 education, reform Obamacare, smaller government, gay marriage, close the border and “take back our country.”

The respective camps of Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter will paint their Republican opponents as out of touch with the needs of the everyday Georgian.

Gov. Nathan Deal’s camp and Republican U.S. Senate candidate David Perdue’s camp will tie their Democratic rivals to President Barack Obama’s agenda.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee just secured a $2.5 million metro Atlanta TV ad buy to boost Perdue’s chances. Who knows what the Super PACs, on both sides, have planned.

The facts speak for themselves. Georgia is consistently at the bottom of the stack on education quality, healthcare access and infrastructure spending. So rather than pointing out the obvious problems, it would be remarkably refreshing to see a candidate point to solutions. The electorate is hungry for a dose of realism. I know I am.

The reality is the “my way or the highway” and group-think mentality is an impediment to the progress that this state and the country should be headed towards.

And that might explain why the libertarian movement is picking up steam.

In a recent New York Times article, libertarian journalist Nick Gillespie opined on the current affairs of our two-party politics. He pointed out: “The whole point of America is that it’s in a constant state of becoming, constantly changing and mongrelizing.”

It’s okay to be pro-choice and pro-gay marriage. It’s okay to be liberal and hawkish on foreign policy. The far-left and the far-right are not representative of the common American. Our lives are far too nuanced for the cookie cutter presentations from either party.

Electing purists will continue to hinder our capacity to lead. It’s time we demand that our candidates and elected officials be willing to authentically listen and discuss policy issues – before pontificating and acting.

It’s also time for voters to serve as the interventionists for the sake of building our state and our nation – right here in our own backyards.

Saba Long is a communications and political professional who lives in downtown Atlanta. She serves as the senior council aide and communications liaison for Post 2 At-Large Atlanta City Councilman Aaron Watson. Most recently, Saba was the press secretary for MAVEN and Untie Atlanta -- the Metro Chamber’s education and advocacy campaigns in supportive of the Atlanta Regional Transportation Referendum. She has consulted with H.E.G. an analytics and evaluation firm where she lent strategic marketing and social media expertise to numerous political campaigns, including that of Fulton County Chairman John Eaves and the 2010 Clayton County transportation referendum. In 2009, Saba served as the deputy campaign manager for the campaign of City Council President Ceasar Mitchell. Previously, Saba was a Junior Account Executive at iFusion Marketing, where she lent fractional marketing strategy to various ATDC technology startups operating out of the Georgia Tech incubator, ATDC. For the past two years, Saba has presented on online marketing and politics to the incoming fellows of the Atlanta chapter of the New Leaders Council.