Iusually don’t get “page fright,” but I must admit I’m a little nervous as I write this editorial. For starters, it’s the last commentary I’ll ever do for PT Design. In addition, I have several loose ends I need to tie down after the editorials that ran in the past two issues.

Rather than backtrack, I’ll set the stage with a letter that came in just yesterday. It’s from a reader, who also happens to be a business acquaintance and a guy I respect. He has no idea I’m doing this.

Dear Intelligent One, (my edit)

I read your October editorial, “It Takes a Villain,” and I have to ask, are you feeling all right? I would call Bin-Ladin or Slobodan a villain, but Bill Clinton or Al Gore? If they are villains, what are Nixon, Reagan, and Bush Sr.?

While it’s true that by virtue of their affiliation Democrats appear to be on the side of the common folk, the smart voter knows that all politicians are out for number one.

As for “lending support to an organization that exploits misfortunes for corporate gain,” have you forgotten the arms for hostages deal of the early eighties? To me, that’s the epitome of what’s wrong with politics, trading lives for a job.

I know I won’t change your view and you won’t change mine, but as far as your dad is concerned, buy that fellow Democrat a beer for me. That’s what makes America great. Our freedom to choose!

Best regards,
John

Thanks John, and thanks everyone for the letters, faxes, and e-mail. In all, I received almost 180 responses and they are still flowing in. The vast majority, over 160 and counting, are in total agreement – solemn but enthusiastic. The few that took exception were, all in all, fairly civil. Most questioned the appropriateness of political opinions in a trade journal. About a half dozen of those responses, like John’s, offered valid counterpoints.

For John and others, the “villain” I was referring to in last month’s editorial is actually you and me.

The world needs villains, you know. Causes need villains. Tyrants need villains, and so do certain political parties. It’s nothing new and it isn’t limited to the U.S. History is brimming with examples in which innocent people are painted as villains in order to fragment and then reconsolidate power. You’d be fooling yourself to think that it could never happen to you, or your children or grandchildren.

The stakes are particularly high in this age of instant communication. Like a virus spreading from one computer to another, deception and misinformation can move like lightning to the farthest corners of the world and into the public consciousness. If we permit our politicians to prosper from such mind-bending tricks we are inviting trouble. I’ll write it in chalk on sidewalks if I have to.

As for John’s second point, I agree. Politicians (on both sides of the aisle) are generally out for number one. Let’s just admit that. And then let’s go to work, all of us, and do something for ourselves, our communities, and our country. Until enough voters realize that bigbrother federal government isn’t the answer to our problems, candidates are going to continue their pandering ways, making promises they can’t keep and yapping about how they care.

The best thing government can do for us is get out of the way. As John says, freedom is what makes America great. It’s what we began with, before we even had a government, and it’s the one thing we all can still rally around as a nation.

If John hadn’t written such a long letter, I could say more. But now I need to shift gears and tend to some unfinished business.

In case you didn’t know, this is the last issue of PT Design. Next year you’ll see this magazine as Motion System Design. Same great material (minus the politics; the election’s over) and same great audience.

The name change caps off an extensive transformation that has unfolded over the past several years. Of course, we did it all for you. Yeah, right. We did it to stay in business. System design is the way of the future, and Motion System Design will light the path.

One last thing. John, what were you thinking, Sam Adams? Me too. Dad, get out the pretzels. Uncle Sam and I are coming over.

Larry Berardinis
lberardinis@penton.com