We live at a time when movement politics stirs the pot of political discourse.
While older pols ruefully recall better times when government worked for the people, movement politics is tearing our country apart.
I remember my youth when politicians were more bi-partisan, willing to not only share a brew at a local pub, but they were willing to compromise and get things done.
Chris Matthews has recently written a book recalling more enlightened days when a President, like President Reagan, and a Speaker of the House, like Tip O’Neill, could get together and come to a meeting of the minds. Politics benefitted by their willingness to respect one another, and the country benefitted as well as the needs of the country were addressed.
Can President Obama and Speaker Boehner reach across the aisle and begin anew, a relationship based on respect for each other and a respect for the voters to get things done? I doubt it but we shall see.
A critical test will come soon after the holidays as we approach the twin issues of funding the government and extending the debt ceiling once again.
Democrats complain about the President’s willingness to compromise, while many Republican Party activists find it difficult to give in on any issue as it is seen as a sign of weakness to compromise.
This Congress now has the poorest record of accomplishment in the history of our country. But for the firebrand leaders of the House, this record is good news, for in their view, government is bad and inaction and less or no government is what they seek.
What has left our political institutions as a result is a respect for the voters, a respect for each other, and a willingness to compromise. Fear rules the day!
Speaker Boehner worries that his days as Speaker may end if he shows any willingness to work with the President. The public now views the President as being weak because things are not getting done and the public is tired of the politics of crisis management. Office holders worry about insurgent candidates that they might have to face in a primary back home.
California offers the country an example of what might happen if political inertia occurs. California required a super majority to pass a budget. The Republican side of the political aisle refused to cooperate with the other side. The people got tired of what was happening or not happening as the state of California got deeper and deeper in debt to the point where political IOUs had to be issued in order for government to function. The voters turned their backs on the Republican Party and voted for a super majority in the state legislature and more Republicans have been losing their House seats. Is this the future of the Republican Party nationally?
Our national needs go wanting, while our national government is paralyzed by movement politics. The Republican Party faces the danger of becoming politically irrelevant if it does not change.
Movement politics on the Republican side wants to end all abortions, they want to close the border to all who come here without proper papers, they want to end Obamacare and they pretty much want to say NO to any money being spent on anything other than national defense.
If a political party marginalizes itself by becoming so extreme, they endanger the country and they endanger their political party by becoming so far removed from the political center that the people wind up rejecting as utter rubbish anything that they put forward.
Let us not kid ourselves regarding the motives of some who are among us that sow the seeds of discord and disunion. They foment dissension and faction for their own self-interest. They are creating domestic convulsions out of what Alexander Hamilton would call their ambitious, vindictive and rapacious selves.
What would America look like if the far right extremists won? Would women have any rights? Would minorities return to those degrading days when they were turned away from lodgings? Would our seniors be deprived of the small financial security that they have now with Social Security? Will Medicare be there for them when they are ill by 2020?
I am mindful of the lesson to be learned from the Peloponnesian Wars. Their claim was that they needed to destroy the Athenian commonwealth in order to save it. Well, all that you have left in those type of situations is ashes. So while Tea Party faithful and elected officials claim that they want to save us, we are being left with nothing but ashes in and during the process.
Meanwhile people like the Koch Brothers feed their greed and ambition and the rest of us go wanting, desperate to solve the problems that we currently have, but left wanting due to the politics of no way but my way.
For those of us who remember better times when the national interests was the primary motivating force behind the compromises of those lost and nearly forgotten times we are left to hope and dream of better days ahead.