How much more of this nonsense are we willing to put up with? No, I am not talking about the lies, misspeaks, or misrememberings that fill our news coverage. And I am also not referring to the crap we call “reality” television. No, I am talking about what we call politics.
The American voter, and non-voter, has allowed this nation to step ever so closely to the brink of disaster. Our passiveness has allowed our elected leaders (a laughable term if ever there was one) to refuse to play nice with their elected counterparts. With each passing election, we allow the same pattern of behavior to unfold between republicans and democrats and it makes no difference as to which party controls the White House and which one controls congress. If there is one certainty we can add to death and taxes, it is effective politics is dead in this country.
For effective politics to work in a democracy, there must be a willingness to compromise. It requires all political parties to respect one another and to respect the electorate they are suppose to be representing, two things that no longer happen. Today, we have a system of all “all or nothing” politics where if one party does not get all of what they want, they go to great lengths to make sure nothing gets accomplished. Compromise, once viewed as a political strength, is now viewed as a weakness by both Republicans and Democrats.
We are seeing, today, after six years of favorable political advantage in Congress, our president beginning to use his veto powers while Republicans try to undo what they previously were unable to stop. Both parties are guilty of taking their “political ball” and going home rather than trying to work together to accomplish anything of significance. This has been happening on an increasing basis since Clinton’s second term in office and like a snowball once on top of a mountain, it has picked up momentum as it rolls downhill, becoming an increasingly larger and more destructive force with every rotation.
Imagine what it must be like to be an elected leader of moderate beliefs who either leans slightly left or right. Even though you may be willing to work with members of the opposition party, you can never accomplish anything that will benefit the American people because the leadership of both the Republican and Democrat parties have killed bipartisanship. Today, bipartisanship is viewed by both parties as something that is done at the last minute to avoid shutting down government when in reality it is nothing more than crisis management.
President Obama has claimed to be willing to work with Republicans on bipartisan agreements, but then turned around and used his pen to enact executive action that allowed him to avoid compromise on immigration. He has now made it clear he plans to use his pen to veto pretty much anything the Republicans drop on his desk, which, other than the Keystone Pipeline bill, will only be legislation to do away with what he fought to already get passed into law. About the only thing the two parties can agree on is they are both willing to allow our courts to decide matters, something I am pretty sure our founding fathers never intended.
Ronald Reagan found ways to work with Tip O’Neil. Bill Clinton was able to work with Newt Gingrich. Even George W. Bush was able to work with the Ted Kennedy. Why then are President Obama and John Boehner unable, or unwilling, to work with each other? Their failure to do so is telling of just how stubborn both are that they are willing to place their egos ahead of the welfare of this nation.
“Hang in there,” you say. “There’s a presidential election next year and things will change.”
Does anyone believe the leadership of the Republican Party will work with Hillary Clinton, if or when she is elected in 2016? If they can wait out Obama for eight years, what makes you think they won’t do the same with Hillary?
“But what about Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, or Chris Christie,” you ask? “They could get elected.” Perhaps. But again, do you really believe Democrats will work with either of them if that happens?
Sadly, we will elect a new president while re-electing 90 percent or more of the incumbents in Congress and we will have more politics as usual. We will be lucky if we get any roads paved.
The only real wake up call both parties will take seriously is a direct threat to the nation. No, I am not talking about ISIS or any other terrorist group because even this has not resulted in any significant bipartisanship. The only national threat Republicans and Democrats will jointly take seriously is the threat of a legitimate third party, one that is well financed and reflective of the more moderate, middle of the road thinking of the average American.
Perhaps, someday, billionaires like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, or others who have shown a real social conscience, will take it upon themselves to finance the difficult process, as well as the candidates, for a third party. Maybe then we will see real political leadership and a return to compromise for the good of the nation. However, until such a time, do not expect the people we elect to ever return to cooperative and bipartisan politics. They’d much rather sacrifice our future before ever having to share the political playground known as Washington, DC.
James Moore is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching and currently runs his own personal training business, In Home Jim, in Hemet, CA. Jim’s writings are often the end result of his thoughts mulled over while riding his bike for hours on end.