It wasn’t always this way. Folks who are old enough to have been in Washington, DC in the 1950’s and 60’s fondly recall an era when the politicans who spent their days arguing with and strategizing against each other socialized together after hours and shared if nothing else a sense of purpose in conducting the public business of the American people. That largely seems to have disappeared. In the current Congress, the Republicans have united on the agenda of opposing the Obama administration on absolutely everything. They have become the party of NO! It’s easy to just say no. It is much more difficult to listen to and hear what one’s opponents are saying and work together to find compromises that everyone can live with.
Time was, politicians on both sides of the aisle saw their duty as being to work together to do the people’s business. It seems that simply does not happen any more. With the Republican caucus united in saying no, President Obama spent an inordinate amount of time and political capital struggling in vain for some degree of bi-partisanship in his push for major reform on health care and Wall Street. While Mr. Obama has acheived some truly remarkable legislative victories, the only real result of all of his efforts at bi-partisanship has been to alienate voters and activists on his left flank who are disappointed by all of the compromises he made trying futiley to win the support of people who clearly never were going to work with him.
I don’t pretend to have the answers to any of the grave crises which all of us Americans now face. But I am convinced that unless we can find a way to talk to, listen to and really hear from people who profoundly disagree with us, our republic is doomed.
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