I’ve often thought of a world where sensibilities and common good would trump ego and jaded ideologies. How much more would we accomplish, and how much stronger would our nation become as a result? Can No Labels achieve this, and can they save our political discourse?
Political gridlock is ingrained in everyday life in our nation’s capital. Polarization has paralyzed our ability to get anything accomplished. To be clear; there has always been a certain degree of partisanship in our politics–but in my eyes, there has never been this degree of incivility and callousness.
Case in point: During the two years of President Barack Obama’s tenure, the GOP has made a concerted effort to literally stall every proposal and block every path taken by this administration. It’s an unbelievable amount of delay and obstruction. The unity exhibited by Republicans is, in and of itself, not that surprising–although nothing of the sort ever occurred during George W. Bush’s administration– even when Democrats had more of a complaint with the legitimacy of his presidency than Republicans ever could have with Obama’s.
I’m not one of those who felt cheated by the election of 2000, but I can understand some reticence on the part of Democrats to accept Bush’s victory. There was no such reticence with Obama’s decisive victory, yet you would think it was he who stole the election of 2008.
What is most shocking is the vilification by those on the far right of this president. His citizenship, his political affiliation, and his family have all been attacked and distorted in some fashion. The banal, brutish, ignorant attacks belie an almost absurd blood lust by some on the right. What did this president do to deserve these smears as soon as he took office?
This is not polarization– this is hatred–borne of supercilious fear. When the leadership of a party resorts to using blatantly false rhetoric from the most extreme segment of its party as a means to advance their agenda–we have reached the tipping point.
Democrats aren’t socialists, anymore than Republicans are tyrannical plutocrats. This divisive meme– adopted by conservative leaders for the past two years– is not just insulting and irresponsible, it has become the medium for the breakdown in civility in our discourse.
Will No Labels change this? The Tea Party managed to co-opt and fuel their political machine with anger, fear, and grassroots organization (along with outside money). Why would it not be possible for No Labels to fuel their movement with forward-thinking individuals who recognize the damage polarization is causing?
True bi-partisanship is not achieved simply by speaking it. It takes hard work for ideologies to find middle ground, and strong constitutions to accept compromise–and curtail self-interests. Is No Labels up to the challenge? While the rest of Washington cringes at the thought of changing the tax code, or restructuring Social Security, this new group has an opportunity to answer that question vehemently by leading on those issues.
I’m interested in seeing what they can do.