Last week, I reminded everyone that the News offers a public forum for discussion of political topics. This week, I've already had to remind a couple of folks that I would not accept their submissions for letters, as they were political in nature. Until November 7, politics is barred from the Letters to the Editor!
Of course, part of the reason that I'm keeping politics out of the Letters is that we have our Democrat/Republican exchange on page 15 to deal with those sometimes contentious issues. Except, not so much this week!
I invite you to take a look at this week's exchange over on page 15, then come back here and finish reading. . . . No, really, turn to page 15, take a look at this week's topic, take a look at the responses, then come flipping back to this page. I'll wait!!!!!
There is, as my editorial comment says, a bitter irony in the week that the two local parties chose to fail to turn in their discussions. It's not that they haven't had time. The topics, and the rules for the exchange, were sent to the County Chairs on September 5th. Today is October 1st.
In case you've still failed to flip to page 15, let me clear it up for you. The topic this week was: "There is no doubt that partisanship in government exists. Explain how your party would work with the opposition to get things done." The silence is deafening.
In a period when we rail about the lack of civility and debate on the national level between the two parties, we like to pat ourselves on the back and shake our heads, comfortable in the fact that we could solve the problem, if only given the opportunity. Except, we couldn't come up with a single word, from either party, offering solutions. I think we just lost the right to complain that our party could solve the problem if given the opportunity, we couldn't even be creative enough to BS our way through a few paragraphs, at least pretending that we believed what we were saying.
Partisanship is the act of making decisions or taking actions based purely upon a restrictive set of ethical or political guidelines. It means that we elect a Democratic Congresswoman to represent us in Washington. Upon arriving, that elected official suddenly begins to ignore every Republican in her district, opting instead to follow the directives of the Minority Leader. That means never voting for Republican-sponsored legislation. That means never working with someone from the Republican Party to craft legislation that might receive bipartisan support.
Both parties treat elected office as game pieces in a real-world version of Risk. It is never about what is actually getting done; rather, it is about winning.
WE can't let THEM get the votes THEY need, even if the bill would solve every problem the country faces. In fact, letting THEM get good legislation passed is the worst thing that could happen, as any victories for the opposing party means a defeat for our party.
This isn't just a whimsical treatise on government. Take a close look at the voting records of Republicans and Democrats and you'll see that there is less and less compromise and "reaching across the aisle." Those that do are forced out by their respective parties, or by voter special interest groups, for not being party loyalists.
My idea for eliminating partisanship? Treat the two party machines as lobbying interests. Stop identifying elected officials as Democrat or Republican once they have taken their oath of office and mix them up, physically and ideologically. Make them work together by making sure that every committee, every work group, is made up of even numbers of members from both parties. Stop giving them the power they've made the brass ring on the ride in Washington. If we take away the incentives for not working together, they will have to start working together, or we will fire them, just as we would if we had employees who refused to work together.
And that is what we have. We have a large group of employees that are treating their jobs like they are prizes rather than duties. Start asking our elected officials what they've done to work with the other party. If you don't like their answer, or if they have not done anything, tell them you're not happy and tell them you no longer support their behavior.
Sorry for the lecture; but, after seeing page 15, I felt like somebody had to respond.
It’s all just my opinion.