This morning, as I’m home for the first day of spring break, I picked up an old copy of the Washington Post that I had bought a little over a week ago while on a trip with my students. I never ended up getting a chance to read over it, and decided to just sort of pick through it. I like to read the opinion page because I like to see what those with some authority at the paper are thinking. What should I see but an editorial about entrenched incumbency and it’s role in creating polarization on tough issues. As anyone who has scrolled through my few blog postings up to this point will have noticed…this is something I have begun to harp on lately. It’s everywhere! I know I’m not the first to notice it or even bemoan it’s effect on our society, but I’m always proud to add to that chorus. The fact that we now have a congress whose collective minds are made based on how ideologically pure they stay to their party ideals is a poison…nothing less. It means that instead of being loyal to us, the citizens and voters, they are loyal to some conceptual Big Brother created by those party leaders who are looking to root out moderates and others who wouldn’t tow the party line as flamboyantly as they would like. It means that decisions are being made, not by those we elect, but by ideologues that are back at party headquarters deciding what it means to be Republican or Democrat. It means that Rush Limbaugh and Anne Coulter (every time I say their names now it’s almost like welcoming back an old friend) are making decisions in the legislative branch, because anyone who crosses party lines on an issue or who dares try to mediate a compromise will be decried a party traitor. Now I have no love for our current crop of Republicans, and I’m not planning on supporting John McCain, but I find abhorrent the reactions of Rush Limbaugh toward the candidate of HIS OWN PARTY for the presidential nomination. He said that he betrayed conservative principles (not Mr. Limbaugh’s words, but his sentiment), and even jokingly backed both Hillary and Obama rather than McCain. And he’s not the only one. This venom is being splashed from some who seem to revel in the polarization of our process. David Limbaugh, a nationally syndicated columnist, wrote about some of the responses he recieved for his willingness to support McCain as the Republican nominee in an article for the Washington Times. One response read as follows:“For me to cast a vote for [Mr. McCain] at this time is totally unthinkable. I would have to don from head to toe our surgical isolation gear with heavy gloves and boots and wear a gas mask, too, and carry my ballot over to the ballot box by a pair of tongs. Then I would have to hurry home to shower off in the hottest of water and then douse myself with bleach. … And I say this knowing that McLame is (supposedly) more conservative than Obama or Hillary.”All of this may possibly be the cause, or maybe at least in part cause, for the interesting turn that McCain has been making as we near the elections. Limbaugh (the David one) goes on to mention some of these conservative inconsistencies in Mr. McCain’s messages. McCain says he’ll extend the tax cuts passed by Pres. Bush although he “vigorously opposed them initially.” He seems to be giving lip-service to the conservative side of the immigration issue by saying he’ll protect the border although he favors amnesty for 20 million people who are considered illegals. There are other examples, but I feel like I may be getting a bit off topic. It’s the idea that this polarization is necesary for American politics that upsets me. It’s the idea that to support someone who isn’t the candidate incarnate of the party’s every ideal is a betrayal of the country somehow that makes me boil. I hate to burst their bubble, but America is bigger than either of their little political parties. I realize that we’ve been taken over by the two main parties and that most politics run through either the House of Republican or the House of Democrat, but we must realize that our government wouldn’t collapse without them…they just happen to be in the spotlight right now. In the grand scheme of things political parties come and go, and until we get back to politics as a way of supporting and helping our lives and away from politics as a way of proping up these political parties, who can be just as much hives of extremest political ideals as some terrorist organizations are hives of religious ideals, we will be a country trapped at the poles of discourse.
For some more food for thought, and some nicely written thoughts on balance, read this blog post by LeoPardus.