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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Will tomorrow finally be Independence Day in Poland?

It is about time. Beyond time. Past due.

Poland is voting for President on July 4th. And it is a deal-changing election.

Past? or Future?

Neither candidate inspires much enthusiasm. Well, maybe that's not true. The candidate of the past does stir the passions of those who wish to remain rooted in an anti-Russian, anti-European, anti-Semitic (sorry, but true), hyper-Catholic and so-called patriotic Polish lala land. He is the twin brother of the late President, Lech Kaczynski, and has made this election more a referendum about what really happened on the fateful morning in Smolensk three months ago when the president's plane crashed on landing, killing him and 96 others on board, than about what is required for Poland's vibrant, vigorous, productive future.

Firstly, let it be noted that what really happened in Smolensk when the plane slammed into a hillside in fog is most likely determined: the pilots failed to follow urgent instructions to NOT land the plane and crashed it. But, despite overtures of good will from Russian authorities, and logical analysis, Kaczynski the Brother has continued to be churlish and childish not only about this but about other issues related to Polish history and the relative bona fides of himself and his opponent. "Who's is bigger" is one take on the campaign.

Lots of sentimentality has been mucked up, to the extent that Kaczynski the Latter, whose brother the president a few months ago was most certain to lose in the upcoming scheduled election -- against almost anyone -- is running neck and neck with the candidate whose party was leading by as many as 20 percentage points or more, at the time of the crash. It has become a referendum on nostalgia or sympathy for a dead president's poor brother more than a real debate and decision about serious issues.

This is not a good thing.

The other candidate is not exactly Mr. Excitement. Lackluster, uninspiring, not yet as bold as their leadership needs to be, but at least he is oriented toward reason, toward positive relationships with their neighbors, and progressive policies at home. So, the message is, get over it, get over your boredom with Komorowski and just do the right thing.

We're not the only ones, here in the States, whose politics are thoroughly mucked up. The Poles are teetering between taking steps into the 21st century, as is their due, or wallowing in past grievances and petty gripes.

My Polish friends have mostly gone to bed now. They will be up early, as they are among those who desperately care. They will vote early (and, were they in Chicago back in the day, they could vote often). They have editorialized and campaigned and tried to bring logic and wisdom into the debate and to the decision.

The attached (I hope) link to the last editorial in Polityka in advance of this election asserts that, however one may feel, sentimentally, about the past, the former president, the church, "Poland is more important." They argue for sensible, thoughtful, forward-looking decision-making on the part of every voter. God, I hope the people come through.

I hope the voters get it right this time so that when they all wake up on Monday morning, they will be free at last from the worst of the worst of the past several years, and free to move, to move on, to grow, to thrive.

Heaven knows, they so deserve it!

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