Democrats and Republicans

AE32E48D-A4FD-46E3-BF88-E95FEAD232EBGroucho Marx once said, “All people are born alike — except Republicans and Democrats.”

Unfortunately, what Groucho said decades ago is even more true today. The partisan divide is at an extreme like I have personally never experienced…and I lived through the Vietnam era, when this country was very politically divided.

We all share stereotypical views of those on the other side of the aisle. For example, if someone you’d never met learned that you were a Republican, they would likely assume that you are not black, lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, nonreligious, or Jewish. If they learned you were a Democrat, they would likely believe that you are not a white evangelical Christian and you don’t live in a rural part of the county.

Most Democrats are left-leaning, liberal, and are usually associated with progressiveness and equality. Most Republicans are right-leaning, conservative, and are associated with big business, economic freedom, and with self-reliance. But to be fair, “most” doesn’t mean “all.” There are plenty of crossovers, like me, a social liberal and a fiscal conservative.

I consider political party affiliation to be like religion. When babies are born, they have no religion. But they are taught about religion from their parents and most children embrace the religious beliefs of their families and maintain those beliefs into and throughout adulthood.

Similarly, babies are not born either Democratic or Republican. But they will typically embrace and follow the political leanings of their families.

My question is what has happened to moderates within either political party? These days moderates are ridiculed as being either RINOs or DINOs (i.e., Republicans/Democrats In Name Only) and of being disloyal to their party (even when being loyal to their party is being disloyal to their country). Political compromise and a willingness to negotiate with the other side are considered signs of weakness.

It’s a sad state of affairs when the primary purpose of a political party is to do everything it can to stymie the other party, thus effectively blocking the government from getting much of anything done. For anybody.

Negotiate is a Dirty Word

republicans and democratsIt’s sad that words like negotiate and compromise have become the equivalent of dirty words in today’s political environment.

Negotiation is essentially a method by which people settle differences and a process by which compromise or agreement is reached while avoiding argument and dispute.

Unfortunately, the art of negotiation has lost its value. What our country needs is a functioning federal government where our elected representatives at least attempt, through negotiation, to get for us, their constituents, what we need.

In order to be functional, our representatives — Republican, Democratic, and independent — are supposed to meet, present the views and desires of the people who elected them, and try to come to some kind of compromise through negotiation.

But compromise requires that all sides sacrifice a little in order to move the ball forward. It requires a bipartisan effort where legislators are willing to find a middle ground in order to achieve a greater good over self-interests.

Instead, “compromise” and “negotiate” have become dirty words in Congress. To be willing to negotiate with “the other side” is a sign of weakness and of party disloyalty. As a result, our government is in gridlock, with little getting done on behalf of the people.


This post is in response to the one-word word prompt, “negotiate” from Tales from the Mind of Kristian.

 

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

A54DF262-617A-425E-ACA6-42ED1757558CI used to believe that to be thought of as “uncompromising” was a good thing, a positive attribute. To be uncompromising means to be resolute, determined, purposeful, steadfast, and strong.

But I no longer believe that being uncompromising is such a good thing. Well, at least not in the context of American politics. Because in that context it means stubborn, intransigent, pigheaded, inflexible, rigid, obdurate, and obstinate.

Keith Richards and Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones famously wrote (and sang)

“You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You just might find
You get what you need”

What this country needs is a functioning federal government where our elected representatives at least attempt to get for us, their constituents, what we need.

In order to be functional, our representatives — Republican, Democratic, and independent — are supposed to meet, present the views and desires of the people who elected them, and try to come to some kind of compromise through negotiation.

But compromise requires that all sides sacrifice a little in order to move the ball forward. It requires a bipartisan effort where legislators are willing to find a middle ground in order to achieve a greater good over self-interests.

Instead, “compromise” has become a dirty word in Congress. To be willing to negotiate is a sign of weakness and of party disloyalty. As a result, our government is in gridlock, with little getting done on behalf of the people.

Because of our uncompromising lawmakers, we, the people, are not only not getting what we want, we are not getting what we need.

And now, just for fun —

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

DC3CDBB7-1031-4AA7-B772-9AF04604FF16Compromise is a part of life. For example, if I want to do one thing and my wife wants to do something else, we compromise — and do what she wants. Because, you know, happy wife, happy life.

But in American politics these days, compromise is a dirty word. It’s a sign of weakness, of capitulation. It’s considered to be a zero-sum game, a situation in which one group can win something only by causing group to lose it.

As a result, there is legislative gridlock in Congress where key votes are strictly along party lines and any congressperson who doesn’t vote that way is considered to be a traitor to his or her party.

No wonder Americans are frustrated and angry with the government and with Congress, where it’s always party above country. And we have an imbecile in the Oval Office and a Cabinet where the primary qualifiers for being on it are great wealth and incompetence for the role.

Perhaps for the greater good, our elected representatives should heed the words of the Rolling Stones:

You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you might find
You get what you need


Written for today’s one-word prompt, “compromise.”

Some End of Year Observations

2017 has been one of the strangest and most disorienting years that this aging Baby Boomer can recall. And believe me, I’ve experienced some very bizarre years.

I think of myself as an optimist, but maintaining a positive outlook as this chaotic year draws to a close has been quite challenging for me. So much so that even my eternal optimism has given way to considerable doubt and a lot of concerns.

Our American democracy has become incredibly fractured along political, religious, cultural, and economic fronts. Everything, from abortion to gun control, and even how to conduct oneself during the playing of the national anthem at football games or how to respond to accusations of sexual misconduct, has become intensely partisan.

Listening to and trying to understand perspectives and opinions that differ from one’s own now seems to have become a lost art. Negotiation and compromise are treated like four-letter words.

Virtually everything is politicized in this winner-take-all world in which we now find ourselves. You’re either with me or you’re against me. My religious beliefs are true and yours are false. My opinion is worthwhile and yours is worthless.

Everything is either black or white; there are no shades of gray anymore. Opposing points of view are met with disdain, contempt, and outright scorn. Politics in America has devolved into blood sport.

Attributes like character, truth, and decency don’t seem to matter in Donald Trump’s America. What might happen should Donald Trump move to fire Mueller or to sabotage the Russia investigation? Will our democracy survive or will it trigger a new American civil war?

The only way to make America great again is to abide by the Constitution and to follow the rule of law. We need to end the madness that has hijacked our government and our society. In 2018 we must do whatever we can to put the country we cherish back on the right track before it’s forever gone.

Just some year-end observations from one jaded, cynical blogger who is hopping for a better, happier new year.