by Mike Smith In national politics the only meaningful victory is one where you completely vanquish your opponent. A compromise is a defeat. An attempt to understand an opposing view is interpreted as lacking conviction in your cause, or, worse, disloyalty to a political party. One side is portrayed as always despicably wrong, while the other side contends it is always virtuous and right. Promotion of your cause must come at the complete denigration of your opponent’s view, or even the destruction of their character. There are no rhetorical boundaries. You say anything in order to win the debate.This is, unfortunately, Washington, D.C., nowadays and the reality of our politics. Nothing illustrates this more than the ongoing debate over the future direction of health care. This debate is emblematic of all that is wrong with our politics.Republicans want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as most call it; Democrats want it retained. Some Democrats have said that repeal of the Affordable Care Act will mean Americans will die. Some Republicans counter that retaining Obamacare is too expensive and will ultimately result in the collapse of our health care system — although they have yet to put forth an alternative plan. By design politicians want us to believe that we either will die or we’ll wind up destitute, depending on which political side of the health care debate we fall on. For the most part, both sides are engaged in rhetorical gamesmanship, where certain words are hyped to catch our attention — or perhaps to scare us — but with the ultimate goal of dividing rather than uniting us.Obamacare is indeed becoming unaffordable, and in many parts of the country options are limited. If trends continue, it is unsustainable in its current form. It is a broken system that needs to be fixed. Democrats must admit to this fact. But on the other hand, Obamacare has provided millions of Americans with health care coverage, and if you wish to replace it then you must provide details of what a new health care system will look like, what it will cost and who is covered. Republicans must admit to this fact.But in modern-day politics acknowledging these facts dilutes the message. So facts often become bothersome details, obstacles to the ultimate goal of winning. There has to be a conqueror and a conquered. It’s political warfare without any possibility of a truce. There are always opportunities for compromise, but both sides look past those possibilities because to do otherwise is a sign of political weakness. In the end, all of this frustrates most Americans. This should worry politicians of both parties. If Americans lose confidence in, and support for, our governmental institutions such as Congress, the presidency, and our court systems, then our political system could be in jeopardy.History has shown that a democracy is constantly vulnerable. As Americans, we think of our democracy as indestructible, even perpetual. But is it? The playwright Sam Shepard is quoted as saying, “Democracy’s a very fragile thing. You have to take care of democracy. As soon as you stop being responsible to it and allow it to turn into scare tactics, it’s no longer democracy, is it? It’s something else. It may be an inch away from totalitarianism.”The question that we must all ask ourselves is where are we headed as a country? But perhaps just as important is the answer to this question: Where are our leaders taking us?Mike Smith is the host of the radio program, “Open Mike with Mike Smith,” on WDEV 550 AM and 96.1, 96.5, 98.3 and 101.9 FM. He is also a political analyst for WCAX-TV and WVMT radio and is a regular contributor to Vermont Business Magazine, The Times Argus and Rutland Herald. He was the secretary of administration and secretary of human services under former Gov. Jim Douglas.
Zamakona Yards has delivered the Roll on-Roll off dock built for the Container Terminal of Tenerife (OHL Group).This innovative elevating structure is the only of its kind in the Canary Islands, permitting a more versatile use of the pier since it will only be employed when vessels with rolling stock arrive (Ro-Ro), permitting the use of the dock for conventional vessels at other times.It consist of an elevating ramp, 25 meters wide by 20 meters long, for vessels docking at this point in Tenerife. The ramp, which weighs 170 tons is designed to support rolling cargos of 54 tons and static cargos of 30 tons.The ramp is equipped with an ultimate generation electrical system which permits it to be raised to a vertical position when not being used, leaving the dock free to accommodate conventional vessels.With this last construction, Zamakona Yards moves to the Forefront of Spanish shipyards in the construction and installation of Ro-Ro ramps in the Canary Islands and The Iberian Peninsula as well as to the vanguard worldwide in the design and construction of this type of structure.[mappress]Zamakona Yards, January 22, 2014