On SeeBS Sunday Morning, retired Congressman Lee Hamilton, author, George Brownstein and others painted an ugly picture of our current state of governance. Both parties hi-jacked by the extremists, resulting in a huge gap in the center, polarization of the electorate, and ultimately, gridlock.
Here’s a summary of the broadcast:
One of the most appalling aspects was seeing a rerun of former Congressman of Tom Delay, Republican of Texas, extolling the virtues of ultra-partisanship.
When did we become a nation intent on legislating on behavior that has no direct impact on an individual, but simply serves the political or economic agenda of that person to the detriment of another?
There’s a difference between a law that says you can’t murder someone, or steal from them, or defraud them, inflicting harm on that person, and a law that says two people people can’t get married because of religious, gender or racial characteristics.
That kind of rulemaking steps over the line from preventing harm to impinging on anothers rights because it offends my values. When did these “rugged individualists” get the moral right to legislate what another individual can do?
And when Speaker Pelosi made a partisan speech in connection with the wheeling and dealing on the Bail Out of 2008, granted it was ill-advised at that sensitive moment to smack the face of the partner you needed to make it happen; but Barney Frank made the correct observation to the Republican response: you punish the nation because you were offended?
This “partisan-polarization-as-the-norm” has also allowed the extremists to justify the means to the end, and that’s what we’re seeing in the current political season. John McCain, who savaged the religious right only a year or so ago, was standing next to fundamentalist Ted Hagee, figeting like a schoolboy as Hagee blessed McCain’s candidacy. What a maverick! And when questioned whether Sarah Palin was ready to step into the Oval Office in the event of an unforeseen situation, his absolute endorsement of her ability to carry the Presidential agenda – and the nuclear football – put the last nail in the coffin of his perceived independence. John McCain, the Bush consultants behind him and his running mate of political expedience are the ultimate expression of political cynicism that’s overtaken this country.
Good neighbors learn that compromise is an inescapable part of living in a diverse society. It’s time that we truly do put partisanship aside, that we quit thinking of ourselves as group first, Americans second. That’s a point that we all need to remember: Republican, Democrat, white, black, brown, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, male, female, young, old.
Lincoln reminds us that “a house divided cannot stand”. We stand in a house divided, poised over an economic fault line. Someone had better get sane real quick, or that goopy, smelly stuff is going to hit the fan. And we’ll all end up wearing it.