On the Gridlock

The time being collegial is past, it’s time for confrontation … One need not choose between being a good conservative Republican and a statesman who gets things done for the country by reaching across the aisle. – Richard Murdock, Republican-nominated candidate for the U.S. Senate, Indiana

Today, those words stand tall in the Republican Party. To me, it’s just another example (of many) of the party-first atmosphere dominating the U.S. political scene. Recent years has brought forth many loud-and-cranky to force out what the very conservative voices proclaim as a RINO – Republican in Name Only.

Through lost primaries, retirements, and decision not to seek re-election, Republican moderates are fading away. As RINO hunters have successfully poached their own party, let us not forget the same thing has been happening on the other side of the aisle.

Many moderate Democrats came to Washington in the late 1990s – and they too are vanishing as DINO hunting season has successfully reduced their numbers. Many, known as Blue Dog Democrats, were a version of Democrats who would stray from the left of their party on a variety of matters, yet today are nothing more than a whimper.

The truth is, the Democratic left despises these moderates as much as the Republican right despises theirs – and since 2006, and much to the elation of the party faithful, this group, seen as partisan traitors to the party’s ideology, is vanishing.

Some moderates in both parties exist, but with so few, with whom are they going to establish common ground? With whom are they going to seek compromise? With whom are they going to find solutions for the good of the whole?

Although the voters of Indiana have not yet elected Richard Murdock (and may not do so), his words are symbolic of the majority of our elected officials for they represent their party. As the weakened, elected political center continues toward extinction in both parties while the partisans cheer with good riddance the departures of Snowe, Lieberman, Luger, Nelson, and others, let the parties not forget that the spectrum from Republican moderates through independent moderates to Democratic moderates is where one finds most Americans. Yes, the largest voting bloc with the least representation – yet, the ones who will decide the outcome – the ones who each party caters for their vote so the winning party can declare an inaccurate policy mandate.

Barring an unforeseen circumstance, election 2012 will not settle differences or bring solutions – just more partisan divide. No matter who wins the president election, I hope that the same party does not control the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives – for if it does, an ideological overreach will be the order. Yes, I’ll take gridlock instead of overreach – and then in time, the moderates will return in one form or another to lead the majority of Americans. The real question is, how much time?

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37 thoughts on “On the Gridlock

  1. In a way, I’m hoping for an extremist win one way or the other – with any luck, it will wake up the middle ground, and perhaps even form a third party composed SOLELY of moderates, leaving the Tea-Party and the Looney Left to fight over the scraps of the GOP and the Democratic Party. Otherwise, I fear a frenetically repeating pendulum swing from far right to far left and back again.
    Yeah, I know, I’m expecting common sense from the voting masses. Silly me. 😉

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    • John,
      It looks like we’re taking the different paths for a similar outcome. In the current environment, the shifting pendulum would be more like a hypershift! As for a third party, I’m afraid that would also require a certain star alignment, but that is a story in itself. Meanwhile, it was great to see you as the first comment! Thanks for stopping by.

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  2. would you say it’s common for (just an example) republicans for vote against what is really a good democrat idea simply because they don’t want the democrats to be able to take the credit for the accomplishment. then, if a republican wins the next election, the GOP will vote for the same bill, now that it’s got a big R on it?

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    • Rich,
      Absolutely I believe that …. and the fact of Dems taking a GOP idea, thus the Rs voting against it … and vice versa. In their minds, it’s all about the credit and one upmanship. Thanks for commenting.

      Like

    • Mags,
      My apologies to you and all my non-US visitors, but this one has been brewing in my head for some time — thus it had to escape! Nonetheless, the hello caused a smile … many thanks!

      Like

  3. How America became a 50 50 hyper partisan country is sad. Good solid post on the disappearance of the moderates, or those who think and go to DC to work. It also is a sad reflection on the American people. We probably all have say 10 principles that we should all be able to find a grand bargain on by trading, but neither party really wants success. They thrive on the duality and the fuzziness because they think it makes themselves relevant, when in fact it shows them as incompetent idiots.

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  4. It is just me or is anyone else concerned about the corruption of democracy. The concept was originally invented by the Greeks (now, stop laughing, that’s not nice) and meant “people power”. Now it is about “Party power” and backing the party machines is “money power”. Sadly Zuckerberg now has enough money to buy a President if he wanted to!

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  5. The real responsibility for electing these crazy folks is an ill-informed electorate. Folks get what they deserve. Sadly, those of us who care, who pay attention and stay informed get the crap, too.

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    • Elyse,
      Absolutely. The public is very much responsible. On the other hand, although Congress has a low approval rating, the public continues to say “My rep/senator is fine, and the others are the problem.” Thanks for commenting.

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  6. Thanks for your resource list. I plan to read more of TheModerateVoice.com. I liked its focus, but I especially liked the comments from its readers. Also, it will be interesting to see how Richard Murdock fares in the Indiana general election. His views may stimulate a get out the vote push-back from alarmed GOP moderates in the Hoosier State.

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    • Tim,
      Thought you would appreciate the reading list. As for Indiana, I don’t know anything about the Democrat in the race. Depending where the candidate is on the spectrum, GOP moderates may have no choice but to vote to the right, which to them is (regretfully) the lesser of two evils. Thanks for commenting.

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  7. I just started reading “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Faith” by Jonathan Haidt (a social psychologist with an interest in moral psychology) in an attempt to try to understand what is going on- in both politics and religion. I’m only 75 pages into the book, but it is a fascinating look at why we divide ourselves into groups and act in sometimes odd and illogical ways.

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  8. Thank you for your post, Frank. I try not to be paranoid, but I’m finding it harder and harder to see a healthy path forward for our country. I realize that we’ve been through plenty of catastrophes and persevered, but what are we supposed to do when our political system seizes up?

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    • Atom,
      Welcome back & I hope you are back to posting. I’ll stop by soon.

      Great final question! For me, continuing gridlock will let to a breakthrough of some form .. that is both the extremes that dominate their parties will lose their grip on power. Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

    • Cuttlefish,
      I used to write a lot about US politics, but given I have a now have international readers, I try to limit it … but sometimes I just have to get it out. Thanks for visiting.

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  9. Frank. I worked for a surgeon for fifteen years. He’s still on the board at Stanford. He was most contented when the government was deadlocked. He thought that government should get the least done possible. I don’t necessarily agree–of course, everyone likes things to get done, but only if they agree with them!

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  10. Another well written post, presenting political thoughts calmly and reasonably (too rare these days).
    I can’t think of any way too bring bipartisanship back save a sea change in the attitudes of those governed and those governing.
    And I also think Canada is going to get a whole bunch of immigrants after the next election cycle.
    It’s been said that Democracies (or Democratic Republics) get the governments they deserve. I’m starting to think that’s true. (Did you see that the Grade Level of congressional speech has descended to High School Sophomore?)

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    • Guapo,
      I did see the report about the levels of speech. Very interesting … and I may have tagged it for Friday’s reading list. Meanwhile, bipartisanship is currently dead in the water – well, other than “you are welcome to join us” BS. And yes, we the voters put them in office, thus are getting what we deserve … now that is a sad commentary. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  11. Very good posting. That quote from Murdock made me cringe. It is a symptom of the gridlock we’ve all witnessed. But at risk of sounding biased, I’d say the problem is much more prevalent on the GOP side, the shaming of moderates. Sure there was some hounding of the Blue Dogs but it seems the Dems are much more varied ideologically than the Republicans making moderates more welcome on the Left.

    We’ll have to see how many voters continue to put a functioning government at risk by voting these uncompromising extreme candidates into power just to punish the incumbent

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    • Mashed,
      I know what you mean about the Murdock quote, but he’s not alone by any means. With Cincinnati being a tri-state metro area, I recently heard similar words from the recent Kentucky primary. I think the trend will continue, but the question is for how long. As far as the left being more welcoming to moderates than the right, well, it just goes to show that “as compared to what” is the key to any comparison. Yes, an elephant is big compared to a mouse, but it is a speck compared to our planet. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

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      • With the Democrats I was pointing to the broader ideological variation within the party as opposed to the ever narrowing of the Right’s ideological views. As we’ve all seen the Right has tightened its reigns, restricting themselves to a limited agenda. In response, we have seen some constriction on the Left but by and large compared to the GOP the Dems are more willing to find middle ground and work with others. We’ve seen this in a number of pieces of legislation put out over the last few years. We also see conservative Democrats pulling themselves into competitive races in such states as South Dakota. This is where we can make comparisons, with the range of representation between and within the two parties.

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        • Mashed,
          No doubt that the Right has become quite narrow. Also, no doubt that the Left is wider; then again, it doesn’t take much to be wider than a thin line. Personally, it good to hear about conservative Dems being in competitive races. However (and if they win), finding common ground with the GOP will be nearly impossible – but will they be able to find the common ground within their party? Let’s just leave it at that you are more confident in that than I. Thanks for sharing the your thoughts.

          Like

    • Robin,
      Sure is sad … meanwhile, the parties continue to play a game of ideological chicken, it is done so at the expense of all us. Crazy … absolutely crazy. Thanks for commenting.

      Like

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