The new Senate Majority Leader, Kentucky Republican, Mitch McConnell, was remarkably honest recently in his goals for the upcoming two years. He stated that, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” That sentiment, in itself, embodies what’s wrong with our elected officials these days, and with the whole system of two-party government, which has been corrupted by those in power who treat the party as the top priority, as opposed to our country.
How about some very serious issues that are facing us? Are high unemployment, ballooning deficits, and Americans being killed in Afghanistan, not issues that should be front and center for the next two years, and be the most important things that our leaders focus on? It seems that the “party” has become central to the political system, and actual governing has fallen to secondary status in terms of what politicians put at the top of their agenda.
It’s not the first statement made by a politician that puts “party first.” Politicians of both parties have said, although not quite as bluntly as Mr. McConnell, things that refer to a hope that the economy not improve because it would hurt their chances in the next election, or that they don’t want the war to start showing signs of success because that will bolster the party in power. These are matters of life and death, and issues that have a drastic effect on the lives of real people. It’s a disgusting perversion of the system for these “public servants” to put self-interest above the lives of their fellow Americans.
But it would certainly explain why it seems that on every issue that comes up for debate there are almost always two plans, the Democratic plan, and the Republican plan. It seems to me that if we have 100 elected senators, and 435 elected representatives, who are supposedly the “best and brightest” our nation has to offer, there should be numerous ideas put forth on issues such as health care, the tax code, and any other complicated issue that comes up for debate.
But it doesn’t seem to work like that. The party leadership endorses a position, and the party members all fall in line like lemmings, making just about every major vote end up along party lines. You mean to tell me that a Republican from Florida has the same concerns as one from Alaska? And a Democrat from New Jersey feels the same as one from Texas? Logic would dictate there would be many concerns that would bring forth a lot of ideas, rather than everyone fall in line behind the party leadership. These are supposed to be smart people; one would think they’d be full of ideas to solve problems. The best they can come up with is two opposing plans? That’s certainly not how our founding fathers envisioned our government working.
There’s a new movement brewing that hasn’t gotten much publicity. The last new movement was the Tea Party, which started as a group that was supposed to welcome members of all political persuasions and stand for strict government-by-the-constitution ideal, but which quickly turned into a branch of the Republican party, with Sarah Palin as the spokesperson and rallies that were nothing more than an orgy of Obama bashing.
This newer group met last week at Columbia University in New York, and drew 1,100 attendees. The have adopted the moniker “No Labels,” and the idea is that everyone comes in with their own ideas and proposals. No one calls themselves a Democrat or Republican; they are just Americans who want to move, as they put it, “not left, not right, but forward.”
The people involved include members of both parties, independents and politicians, who are in office, as well as former office holders. Some of note included New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Democratic Senators Joseph Manchin of West Virginia, Evan Bayh of Indiana, and Kristen Gillibrand of New York, and Republican Governor Charlie Crist of Florida, Delaware Representative Mike Castle and South Carolina Representative Bob Inglis, who recently lost his re-election Republican primary race after being accused of not being conservative enough.
Inglis has been lambasted by both parties; by the Democrats for being Republican, and by Republicans for not voting conservatively enough. He perfectly demonstrates the problem we are facing; our public officials are so caught up in an ideological war with the other party that nobody is sitting down to work out solutions to the problems we face.
He feels that if half the energy put into the development of political strategies to defeat the proposals of the other party were put into coming up with real ideas and innovative plans to deal with the issues at hand, we would be far ahead of where we are now in terms of making progress on the things we really need to accomplish to make our country both prosperous and respected around the world again.
The No Label group isn’t trying to start a new party, or even end the party system we have now. They don’t plan on endorsing candidates, or trying to influence elections. They simply want to try and change the focus of our politics to problem solving, rather than making sure one’s party is in power.
Will this group have any success in trying to steer the course of political discourse in a new direction? Judging from the lack of coverage of the event, it doesn’t seem so. But if word gets out, and enough people see the benefits of having “no labels” when discussing the ways to solve our problems and move the country forward, perhaps word will spread. We desperately need to end partisan politics and get back to real debate on solving problems, instead of blocking solutions “until the next election.” The time to start is now, or soon it will be too late.