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Bipartisanship Failure in America

By Jeff Dutton
On November 23, 2010

At the beginning of this month, something great happened.  The annoying political advertisements, that seemed to run every two minutes on every single television station, finally ceased.  This happened, of course, because the 2010 mid-term elections came and went.  There are still races that have not been decided, but as of the writing of this article, the Republican Party has gained six seats in the Senate and 60 seats in the House of Representatives, helping the party regain majority control of the House after losing it to the Democrats in 2006.  By now, I am certain that many of you have heard all kinds of predictions and analysis about what statement the American electorate has made at the polls this election cycle.  Some say that the American people have rejected the policy agenda of President Obama.  Others claim it was mainly a statement against the recent health care legislation, and some will argue it was a statement about the lack of economic progress over the past two years.  The underlying statement of this election and recent previous elections is clear:  the American people want and need better choices of leadership.

After years of bitter bipartisanship and a relative lack of progress on serious issues facing our nation ranging from the ballooning national debt, the solvency of our entitlement programs, the proper execution of two foreign wars, improving the quality of and access to education, serious trade imbalances and the need for domestic energy sources that do not line the pockets of hostile nations, the American people became fed up and removed the Republican party from power in the House of Representatives in 2006.  Then in 2008, still fed up, the American people removed the Republican party from power in the White house.  Now in 2010, fed up even still, the American people have removed the Democrats from power in the House of Representatives and diminished their power in the Senate.  After three election cycles of "throwing the bums out," you would hope that the other party - mind you there are really only two - that regained power would get the message.  We need a mix of ideas. We need statesmen. We need consensus. We need well debated and carefully considered action!  We need an understanding that the beliefs and values of the electorate, as well as the solutions to the challenges our nation faces do not and will not fit into one of the two clearly defined options we are given.

Yet, what do we get?  We get Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader of the Senate, giving a speech in which he declares the agenda of the Republican party over the next two years needs to focus on taking all possible actions to obstruct the actions of the President and focus on defeating the President in the 2012 election.  He claims this is necessary because the elections clearly show that the American people want the Republican party agenda implemented, and in order to do this the focus of the Republican party has to be on the 2012 elections and on defeating President Obama.  I am not sure how Senator McConnell has missed this fact, but when it comes to having to pick between the only two options we have, the American people are just about split 50/50.  This fact would say to any intelligent person that the desires of the people, the people that this government is supposed to work for, are not homogeneous, and that compromise and cooperation are required in their governance.  Democrats won control of our government and felt it was their right to relentlessly pursue their agenda without compromise, and look what happened to them this election.  We keep screaming for statesmen, and we keep getting politicians concerned with consolidating their party's power.

America is a large nation, the third largest by population on this planet, with over 300 million citizens and countless different philosophies, ideals, values and concerns amongst its citizens.  It has become clear that the two parties, which increasingly take opposite positions on every issue, do not accurately reflect the range of values and opinions amongst our people.  Many of the immense challenges we face as a nation absolutely require action that would constitute a compromise of the policy positions of our only two political parties.  For instance, our national debt, which the baby boomers are so graciously leaving to us as they retire, requires both the cutting of government spending and programs (the Democrats scoff at this) and a raising of taxes (the Republicans abhor this), in order to be paid down and our budget to become sustainable.  

The question now becomes, "what do we do as a people?"  Do we keep "throwing the bums out?" Do we simply wait and hope that our only two choices somehow begin to work together and accommodate the numerous and varied views of the American people?   Personally, out of an absolute desire to see the end of this dichotomy of gridlock, I have begun to vote only third party.  Yet, I understand the fear that a vote for a third party is a wasted vote, but how else do we bring forth more political choice?  How do we obtain leadership in government that represents a wide range of ideas, beliefs and values; that is willing to exchange and genuinely debate these ideas and reach compromise in order to get the business of the American people done?  This is a serious question. Please write in and let your voice  be heard.

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