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Wake up, Orson

The reasons politicians can’t work together and make tough decisions are plentiful. Distrust, suspicion and paranoia are a few of the emotions that get in the way of progress.

All of those elements were front and center in Orson Swindle III’s Sunday guest opinion (“Wake Up, America”) in the Brainerd Dispatch.

Swindle states a vote for President Barack Obama would be a vote “to abandon our history, our heritage, our character, our obligations and our future.”

Making his case on the presidential election even more personal he worries about the prospects for his grandchildren if the president is re-elected.

“I consider a vote for Obama an extremely abusive act toward those little girls, one that I will not take lightly,” he wrote.


Swindle’s overwrought column was a tour de force of political outrage. My guess is his feelings were sincere and he felt better after he wrote it. The problem is the rest of us have to live and work in the fractious political world that his words help create.

His passion apparently blinds him to self-evident truths as he ignores significant and widespread international contributions that were made by the world’s governments after the 2004 tsunami. On that topic Swindle writes: “We, unlike any other nation have come to the aid of those suffering in natural disasters.”

No matter which presidential candidate wins the Nov. 6 election, the sun will come up the next day. This nation has survived good, bad and mediocre presidents. With its system of checks and balances, those presidents who grasp for more power than they should have, soon feel a push-back from Congress, the Supreme Court and the people.

Also, the dirty little secret presidential candidates never admit to is that, once elected, they’re often the victims of circumstances outside of their control. The lucky ones catch a break on fuel prices, wars, administration scandals. The unlucky ones we call one-term presidents.

Options are often limited on the big decisions a president makes. That’s why, despite significant political differences, there are a host of similarities found in the actions of George W. Bush and Barack Obama in the conduct of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and in the economic recovery from the Recession.

Swindle has served his country as a retired U.S. Marine Corps officer and a prisoner of war. He has every right to voice his opinion. It’s just that his destructive approach does nothing to help the men and women we elect roll up their sleeves and face up to the serious problems before us.

There are plenty of areas where Obama’s policies deserve criticism. The same is true of his opponent. Both candidates demonstrate their desire to be elected is stronger than their desire to be candid with the American public. Still, Obama and Mitt Romney both are eager to implement polices which they feel will help this country and Swindle fails to grant that basic assumption to the president.

Swindle doesn’t just disagree with the president, he demonizes him. And when politicians or commentators demonize their opponent it makes compromise and constructive solutions almost impossible.

Wake up, Orson. There’s much work to do and over-the-top venting doesn’t move us closer to the solutions.

Mike O’Rourke, associate editor, may be reached at 855-5860 or He may be followed at

Mike O'Rourke
Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
(218) 855-5860