No longer do our politicians – or their followers – put what is best for the nation at the forefront although many believe they do so by taking strong, unyielding partisan positions.
Today, it’s all about how a policy plays out for the party – not the country.
Does anyone really believe that the Obama win, cool as it may have been for those who supported his candidacy, has turned out to be a victory for the nation? Does anyone really believe that the two terms of George W. Bush was a victory for the nation?
Yes, I know…Obama’s problems are the fault of a GOP minority in the Senate hell bent on stopping the president no matter what he attempts to do. As for Bush, it was all about oil, right? While Obama’s hidden, nefarious agenda involves the pursuit of socialism in America, Bush’s master plan was to further the interests of corporations and the nation’s wealthiest citizens.
Guess what? George W. Bush contributed more money to fight AIDS in Africa than any president in our history. In the real world (the one where politics is not reduced to a football game), an evil man who cares nothing for the disadvantaged and only works to benefit the privileged just doesn’t do this.
Here’s another shocker.
If you actually believe that Barack Obama is pursuing a socialist course for this country, you are either completely ignorant of facts or need to return to high school and pay attention the day your civics class teacher discusses what socialism actually means. While facts can be inconvenient, President Obama has, so far, turned out to be a pretty conservative president – certainly far more conservative than most who supported his candidacy expected.
The truth is that an American president can no longer succeed on behalf of the nation because whoever is on the other side of the aisle believes they have too much to lose in that success. It’s not about the country – it’s about the success of the team for whom our politicians and their followers play.
The inevitable result is the loss of logic and good sense in the national debate. And when good sense is lost for too long, history tells us that nobody wins the game.
We have GOP senators running around making the case that the nation’s jobless be damned because the deficit can’t handle further payment of their jobless benefits unless we can find the money elsewhere so as to avoid increasing the national deficit. To back up their position, they try to sell us on the notion that the unemployed are only unemployed because, content to take the taxpayers’ money and watch TV all day, they don’t really want jobs. Of course, the fact that statistics make clear that there is only one job out there for every six trying to get it is of no consequence.
At the same time, these identical senators pitch the notion that we should continue the Bush tax cuts despite the treasury’s need for a little help from the nation’s wealthiest in order to conquer the deficit – no offsetting money required to keep the deficit at even.
In what logic system does that add up?
The Democrats are hardly immune from the loss of good sense. Robert Gibbs goes on television and makes a dramatic statement of the obvious by pointing out that the GOP could retake the House this fall. Wow…who would have thought that was a possibility? Apparently, Nancy Pelosi figured that there was still someone left in the United States who didn’t already know this provocative bit of information when she publicly beat up on Gibbs for having spoken the obvious to avoid looking like a complete dunderhead before the nation.
And then there are the whack jobs. Michele Bachmann wants us to believe we are being turned into a nation of slaves. The tea party hangs up billboards comparing the President to Hitler because, somehow, this is good for America. And yes, liberals made some similar accusations against President Bush that were just as stupid.
Ultra-progressives insist that unless we get a health care program that includes every single thing they want, we should have no reform at all. The uninsured will just have to tough it out until the progressives get their all or nothing solution. Of course, most of those who take such a position do so with the comfort of having their health insurance policy sitting comfortably in a file somewhere. They will also tell you that faith based distribution of aid to the needy is a bad thing because it mixes church and state. I’m sure that argument comes as great comfort to families without food who only want a sandwich and don’t really care who gives it to them. But then, a hungry child’s stomach has yet to be indoctrinated into partisanship. To such a kid, food provided by a conservative or a liberal, a church or a government welfare program, is still just badly needed food.
So, I’ve got an idea.
If you live in a blue state – whether you are a Democrat or a Republican – look for a Republican who is moderate to the point that you can swallow hard and vote for his or her candidacy. Look for the Snowes and the Collinses out there. Maybe even the Scott Browns.
Best of all, look for folks like Charlie Crist.
These are the candidates who actually use their brain instead of their party affiliations and aren’t afraid to be supportive of a president from another party if what that president proposes is good for the candidate’s constituency.
If you live in a red state – vote Democrat. No, it doesn’t have to be a progressive or a liberal –a more conservative Democrat will do just fine.
In other words, let’s move our politicians towards the middle. While it won’t satisfy the deeply committed progressives or the equally committed conservatives, it may do something much more important – create a government that is capable of actually governing.
Sound radical? Think about what voting ideologies has done for us so far. Democrats are still blaming Bush (not that he doesn’t have it coming) and conservatives are convinced that Obama is the anti-Christ. Congress is incapable of acting in a rational, meaningful way to solve any of our problems because the leadership on both sides doesn’t allow governance – they only allow votes that are likely to deliver the desired result in the next election.
Here’s a new flash. Running a government is pretty much like running any other type of organization. There can be different opinions as to which may be the better plan to get the job done but, at the end of the day, what is most important is that the organization picks a direction and goes there. Mistakes will be made- but they can be corrected when they show up, if it is about running the government to the best interests of the country and not in the interest of political elections.
If the electorate delivers more Republicans in a given election year — assuming they are rational Republicans — then let’s do it their way and see how it goes. If the electorate chooses more Democrats then they get to steer the ship, so long as they do so rationally.
Given the state of our politics, this can only happen if we put our attention to solving problems – not pursuing ideological agendas. This means choosing candidates focused on problem solving and problem solvers tend to be moderate, deliberative people. They aren’t people who suggest that the president of the United States wants to put our children in camps or make us slaves. They are not people who compare American presidents to the most heinous villain in modern history. They aren’t people who pretend that unions are always right in every opinion and position, even if they are supportive of the right of workers to unionize. And they certainly are not people who suggest that the American government wants to create death panels to decide when our seniors should die.
While it is true that dinner party conversation may be less interesting and cable news shows might drop a few rating points, I think this is a sacrifice we manage in order to preserve the nation.
I would also nominate Charlie Crist to be the poster boy for this movement.
A lifelong Republican, Crist was drummed out of his party for seeking to do what was best for his constituents, whether they be Democrats or Republicans. Those of you who read this blog know that I tend to lean in the direction of the left in my own approach to problem solving. So, my putting up a life-long Republican as the leader of this strategy may appear odd.
However, my interests are for the country – not for a political party. I respect a man who put his state first even if it meant giving the president a (gasp) hug in front of the camera. After all, Sammy Davis Jr., a life-long Democrat, hugged Richard Nixon for the cameras and I didn’t think any less of him for it.
Running the greatest nation on earth like a football game isn’t working out very well so let’s institute a new player draft system designed to even up the teams. Let’s go for moderates, whether Democrats or Republicans, who are more interested in governing than scoring touchdowns.
It has worked well for us in the past ad it might just may save the nation in the future.