Thursday, July 17, 2008

Partisans need to find "Common Ground"

Nancy Pelosi's latest outburst couldn't have come at a greater time for this columnist, considering he was planning all along to write about partisanship versus common ground tonight.
This is what she said that has some heads spinning in Washington:
"You know, God bless him, bless his heart, president of the United States, a total failure, losing all credibility with the American people on the economy, on the war, on energy, you name the subject. (He is) challenging Congress when we are trying to sweep up after his mess over and over and over again."
If that's not partisan I don't know what is.

Cal Thomas & Bob Beckel, in their book "Common Ground" write that there used to be a day when republicans and democrats would sit together, even with different goals for the country and different views on the issues, and call each other friends, and compromise on issues that are most important to the nation.

In the past 30 years, they write, we have gone from a nation of compromisers to a nation of partisans. However, partisanship only goes as far as a few politicians in Washington, because the majority of Senators and Representatives, and a majority of Americans, are not partisan at all.

However, politicians have slowly learned that if they can incite anger and fear on the issues, they can more easily get people excited about the issues, and thus make more money.

That's why we hear things like this from partisans like Ann Coulter, as written by Thomas/Beckel:

"'Godless, unpatriotic, pierced nosed, Volvo-driving, France-loving, left-wing Communist, latte-sucking, tofu-chomping, holistic-whacko, neurotic, vegan weenie perverts.' ...Democrats are the liberal party... pro-union and anti-business, pro-abortion and pro-gay rights, including same sex marriage... for big government, love welfare, love welfare programs, and oppose foreign wars and maybe even God... against free trade, favor high taxes, and are isolationists."

Or like this from partisan liberals like Maureen Dowd about republicans:

"Republicans are pro-business and anti union... favor the smallest government possible with the fewest regulations, and they believe in using the military to exert American influence around the world, in the process getting us into wars we have regretted. They oppose tariffs, dislike government regulation of business, and favor lower tax brackets, which disproportionately benefits wealthy Americans. (They are) against all abortions, and opposes gay unions and legal benefits for same-sex couples. (They) want to seal the borders to keep immigrants out and open the church-state border to let God in, making them religious fanatics..."

Some polarization is good. As Beckel/Thomas write, "Our country and our democracy were born out of polarization between the colonies and Great Britain over taxation and home rule. It was polarization between the North and South over slavery that led to the Civil War."

Today, however, "polarization has become more than the product of opposing ideologies... it has become an artificially stimulated environment for the sole purpose of retaining political power, raising money, or making more money." It works to the benefit of money interests, party operatives and bottom feeders, at the expense of the country as a whole.

The country loses out because the few partisan politicians refuse to compromise with the other party.

Here's a great example. The events of 9-11 made us aware that we had a weakness at the borders of this country, while it's easy for good, honest, hard working people to cross the borders, it's also easy for terrorists plotters to come in too.

In the old days, as what occurred during WWII, Washington politicians compromised to make progress to the benefit of the nation as a whole. Republicans supported the war effort even though doing so may have helped FDR get re-elected.

In the era of partisanship, no deal has been made regarding our borders. The events of 9-11 happened almost seven years ago, and we still don't have a deal. As far as I know, poor Mexican immigrants are coming in illegally as I write this. And, who knows, maybe even a terrorist or two.

This is unacceptable in my book. I'm not a fan of amnesty, but our borders need to be protected, and our laws enforced. We need to prevent people from coming into our country illegally. We need to keep us safe.

President Bush is not innocent himself. Likewise, I don't mean to imply that Nancy Pelosi is alone in her partisanship, as there are many other democrats (Harry Reid, Bill Clinton) and republicans as well (Newt Gingrich, George Bush). I'm just naming a few here.

But as Bush called on Congress to make a spending bill for him to sign. Democrats don't want to negotiate with republicans and vice versal. But it's democrats who control the floor. That's the bottom line. The partisans in the democratic party are leading the charge today. And it was only fitting for Bush to call on them for action.

And, need it be said, Nancy Pelosi is the queen of denicratuc partisans and Reid the King.

I'm not implying that people should give in on their values and principles, but when you are a representative of the people, and the people are demanding changes for the benefit of the Country as a whole, those representatives shouldn't be calling each other names and screaming at each other.

They should stop the character assassinations. They should stop being arrogant. Stop the greed and corruption. Stop the pork-barrel projects "that help some politicians on the other side of the country get re-elected."

It's one thing that this is done in the blogosphere and on the radio and opinion columns, but it should not be happening in Washington. Politicians need to put their partisan bickering on the side table, and step up to the table like mature adults and get something done.

I guess you can put it this way: The goal of partisanship is to get re-elected. The goal of bipartisanship is to benefit the nation as a whole.

It's time we revert back to a time when Congressmen referred to their co-Congressmen as "friend" out of respect, and start talking and acting as they respect their friends, talk as friends, meet somewhere in the middle, and get something done.

Personally, I have many friends who are democrats, and some more who are strict liberals, and I get along with each and every one of them just great. We may have fun debates about politics from time to time, but we almost always laugh off our disagreements. We smile. We remian friends.

Why can't our representatives in Washington behave the same way you and I behave when it comes to politics? People are simply tired of the political bickering.

Thomas/Beckel write that, "To enhance this message, candidates reached out to the two most exciting and sought-after politicians in the country... Senators John McCain and Barack Obama... both made the evils of polarization a central ingredient of their message."

Now, coincidentally, these two are the (probable) party nominees. It seems the authors may have been on to something here: America is tired of partisanship.

It also may be more than coincidence that in the 2006 mid-term elections an increasing number of moderate democrats were elected. It's too bad they are being led by the King and Queen of Democratic partisans in Pelosi and Reid.

The problem with those who want to get out of the "tangled web" of polarization, is that if they oppose it, they may not get re-elected. I remember Bill O'Reilly wrote about this once, and said that if he were to run for president he never would get re-elected because he would do what he thought was right, as opposed to what would get him re-elected.

That's how I think I would act if I were president. We'd be one term presidents. Actually, since we'd be doing the right thing, we would probably be popular enough get re-elected. That's why it gets so frustrating when politicians follow the money instead of their hearts.

That is the bipartisan thought of the day. Tell me where I'm wrong -- or right.


S.W. Anderson said...

If you read John Dean's excellent book, Broken Government, you'll learn (or maybe have suspicions confirmed) that today's Republican Party isn't the big-tent party it once was. Over the past 30 years moderates have been run out of office and out of the party.

The radical right took over the party with Reagan's ascendancy and has operated it like a pressure group ever since. That means highly disciplined, authoritarian, top-down rule. What's more, that approach isn't limited to how the party manages its internal affairs. It carries through to how today's Republicans go about governing.

Republicans who step out of line can find themselves being denied the party's endorsement, funds and help on the stump from other Republicans. In some cases, it can mean vicious rumors are spread and the party actively backs someone it considers more loyal and reliable in a primary against an incumbent Republican officeholder.

As for the presidency, when, ever, has a Democrat deliberately set out from the start to govern strictly for his base? When has a Democratic president (or his strategist) declared 50 percent plus 1 percent is good enough? That approach guarantees a no-compromise approach to governing.

It doesn't take a Ph.D. in political science to know when a major party's makeup is so ideologically standardized and when it behaves as described, compromise is rarely to be expected when it's in the minority. When it's in the majority, forget it.

As you rightly point out, compromise is vital for our democracy to function properly. Compromise has been lacking and our democracy hasn't been functioning as it should for some time.

No surprise, then, that we have a president and Congress with the worst poll numbers ever.

Is the answer for Democrats to unilaterally "disarm" by doing all the compromising for both parties? You'd almost think so the way things have gone since Democrats achieved a decent majority in the House and a technical one in the Senate. But in fact, being only human, congressional Democrats really aren't willing to assume the role of doormat all the time, on everything.

S.W. Anderson said...

Following on from the previous comment, the answer is for the GOP to get back to being a big-tent party, with a diversity of views among its members not only tolerated but welcomed and respected. There's no sign of that happening on the horizon, unfortunately.

Unless and until it does happen, expect polarization and lots of gridlock.

I don't favor any sudden outbreak of bipartisanship. The political landscape has been shoved so far to the right for so long that it needs to be worked back toward the center quite a bit, to restore the kind of landscape we've had traditionally. Once that happens, if it ever does, then sure, give bipartisanship another try and see who plays nice with others.

Freadom said...

I agree with the authors in the book that their has to be some sort of common ground, but there are also things that we cannot compromise on. For example, even Thomas and Beckel disagreed on the War on Terror among other things.

I don't think a small tax increase would be that big of a deal, per se, if that is what would be needed to get, say, our borders secured.

You say radical right. I think the term "Partisan" would better fit there. The same can be said of the democratic party right now. It is lead by the partisan left. So, partisan right versus partisan left = no legislation.

And, thus, low government poll #s.

Thanks for the comment.