June 15th, 2006

Pernicious Political Partisanship

Partisan politics. It is the absolute antithesis to how government should work.

“This is the first principle of democracy: that the essential things in men are the things they hold in common, not the things they hold separately.”
—C.K. Chesterton, as quoted in American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation

Partisan politics. It is the absolute antithesis to how government should work.

I love, encourage, and seek after a healthy debate. It’s like Hannity and Colmes say on their show: “We have our opinions. You have yours. Debating is what makes America strong”. Debate helps us to formulate opinion, articulate our thoughts, and (ideally) come to a harmonizing compromise on an issue.

This is one of the biggest problems I have with liberals. For the most part, (there are always exceptions, I recognize) they have nothing politically and/or legislatively constructive to offer. Their entire platform is one of malevolence and finger-pointing.

Case in point: During the 2004 election, I spoke with many democrats and liberals (not always the same thing). Not one wanted John Kerry as their president. All the guy did was blast Bush, attacking his policies, past leadership, and administration. He offered very little in the way of what he would do if he were President. (Well, he did, but he changed his mind so many times that nobody knew what he would do.) So none of these people wanted to vote for him. The only reason they did is because they wanted Bush out of office.

What the? Is that what our political process has come down to? Voting somebody into office because it would be the “lesser of two evils”? Can’t we find and vote for somebody who will do a good job in office, make this country a better and safer place, and fix the problems that run rampant in our society?

Worthy of mention is a snippet from the excellent book Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation. Referring to the revolutionary generation, author Joseph J. Ellis says:

“…the very notion that a candidate should openly solicit votes violated the principled presumption that such behavior itself represented a confession of unworthiness for national office.” (p. 162)

Wow. Talk about the “good ol’ days”. You can’t walk ten feet during an election year October month without being bombarded by yard signs, banners, street corner signs, buttons, flags, and bumper stickers, all slapping a politician’s name across your face. How many times have people voted for somebody simply because their name sounded familiar?

Sadly, that’s how elections are won these days. Get your name out in the public, and make sure you don’t say anything stupid. Look good, do your hair, dress nice, and smile. Who cares what you have going on upstairs? Promote your ideals? Nah, people don’t care. Just help them memorize your name, so that when they’re in the voting booth, they’ll recognize it.

But the Founding Fathers understood differently. Again, from Founding Brothers:

“Within the context of the revolutionary generation, however, giving one’s allegiance to a political party remained illegitimate. It violated the core of virtue and disinterestedness presumed essential for anyone properly equipped to versee public affairs. Neither Washington nor Adams had ever played a direct role in their own campaigns for office. … [Thomas Jefferson] described party allegiance as ‘the last degradation of a free and moral agent’ and claimed that ‘if I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all.'” (p. 210)

Liberals have become the lobsters in the bucket that pull the Conservatives down whenever they try to do something constructive. Whether the topic be the war on terror, illegal immigration, or social security, liberals offer little in the way of compromise and constructive suggestion. They just get their soundbytes in the media, calling Bush a scumbag and liar.

Time to grow up, kids.

It is for this very reason that I don’t consider myself a Republican. I am a conservative. I don’t “belong” to a party. I answer to myself. I vote for who I think will do a good job in office. I will never vote straight down a ticket, whether that be Republican or Democrat. The status of our society demands that we find and elect good leaders who will uphold the constitution and laws as they currently exist. But clinging to a party is naive. Think for yourself. Investigate the issues. Vote for who will represent you best.

Sadly, I think partisan politics boils down to pride. We have in our government two teams, both trying to one-up the other. The Democrats yell at the Republicans, and the Republicans accuse the Democrats. With all the blaming, finger-pointing, and tattle-telling, when in the world are we going to fix our country?

I was watching CSPAN on the internet while Congress was debating the MPA. What I saw astounded me. One Democrat congressman stood up and proceeded to talk for almost an hour about how the MPA was a waste of time, and how this was an attempt by the Republicans to stall the Congress, tying their hands behind their backs by not letting them get on to “more pressing issues”. What?? This person took up an hour of their day, simply complaining about how the MPA was a waste of time!

Sometimes I am boggled by the sheer ludicrousness of our elected leaders.

Rather than trying to score points for their “team”, attempt to get a ratings boost, and make themselves look good for the next election year, why can’t our elected leaders honestly, humbly seek to further the cause of America, protect its citizens, and secure a prosperous future for our children?

Is that too much to ask?

[ UPDATE: The John Birch Society has a great video that talks about the detriment of political parties. ]
[ UPDATE x2: Paul Allen has a great blog post about partisan politics and the effect the internet can (and hopefully will) have on it. ]

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