By Nick Riebel II Staff Writer
I was minding my own business Tuesday night, when I suddenly remembered that President Obama was giving his State of the Union speech to the Congress of the United States. I decided to watch (I think I caught the latter half of it) and was both intrigued and entertained at a moment which has–at least on social media–stood out. When President Obama said, “I have no more campaigns to run” and there seemed to be some laughing, perhaps even heckling, he continued: “I know ‘cause I won both of them” to laughter, cheering, and applause.
To the independent citizen, this moment may have confused, and perhaps even alarmed, him or her. And please note, when I say this, I do not necessarily intend to disparage those who are truly moderate and pragmatic, those who genuinely wish for a less bitter, less cynical, less nasty political climate. Yet those people may condemn the president for that apparently off-script outburst. When the president had dusted off his 2004 speech from the Democratic National Convention, in which he believed there was a United, rather than Divided, States of America, it would seem odd for him to mock the Republicans.
Sadly, perhaps, for those people, the president’s talk of bipartisan compromise and inter-political amiability was just a bunch of meaningless words. I completely agree, but in a different way, and with less conviction and enthusiasm. The solution, I argue, is that we need greater gridlock and political fighting.
Our government, best demonstrated by our Congress and perhaps Supreme Court, is divided, split into partisan factions hellbent on destroying one another. There is a small band of moderates left extreme ideological agendas in this polarized era. Due to hyper-partisanship, it seems, our nation is doomed to fall, as we were too stubborn to reach across the aisle to the other, and get good things done for America.
This is a story we have heard countless times before, if you pay the slightest attention to goings-on in government. But this is largely nonsense, at least for one side in our government.
The truth is, yes, there is gridlock and obstruction. And it is not entirely the Republican’s fault; Democrats participate in it, too. But the thing is, it’s only a small minority of Democrats who cause gridlock, whereas now, it’s essentially the Republican position: obstruct and reverse progress.
I know many reading this (if there are many reading this) may sigh and express exasperation, and perhaps condescendingly dismiss this assessment as out of hand. I question their reality, because that is just not how American politics is working right now.
The House Republicans had a large fight (relatively speaking) over who should be the Speaker of the House of Representatives, with a historically significant faction of House Republicans refusing to support the incumbent, John Boehner, for the position. Yes, it was a minority of the House GOP caucus, but compare it to the efforts by Democrats to deny their own establishment House leader’s reelection. Nancy Pelosi, more-or-less the ideological equivalent of John Boehner (though perhaps less liberal than he is conservative) faced only conservative opposition, most notably the Florida freshman Gwen Graham, who campaigned in part against supporting Nancy Pelosi’s reelection as leader of the House Democrats: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/oct/15/ floridas-gwen-graham-says-she-would-oppose-polariz/.
While that is only one example of the difference between the two parties, it is an important one. While there was no chance Nancy Pelosi would have lost reelection as leader of the House Democrats, Republicans just need the numbers of the Tea Party Caucus in the House to deny John Boehner the Speakership, and they lost due to huge influence and pressure the GOP establishment brought to bear on them.
The truth, whether you believe it or not, is that there is one party that is extreme and ideological above all else, focused only on helping the rich and powerful become more rich and more powerful. Unfortunately, though, the Democrats are mostly the same way. Their “fights” are only on issues that don’t matter to the “overclass” ruling over every aspect of our lives: the overclass (top 0.01% or so) does not particularly care about gay marriage, immigration, and some other social issues (except for those who benefit economically from decisions on them, such as wedding companies and corporations which depend on undocumented immigrant labor).
Yet, I wish our parties would have a fight on the issues that concern them, and every American: income inequality, restoring our infrastructure, making college and graduate school affordable, universal access to high-quality health care, fixing the environment, and countless other areas in which we could make progress, which John Boehner’s facial expressions seemed very averse to during the State of the Union this year.
The President touched on these issues slightly, which is a step in the right direction. I just wish the parties would focus on them rather than pumping more money into politics, deregulating and privatizing as much as possible, and generally helping the overclass almost unanimously together in the spirit of bipartisanship and cooperation, cheered by a corporate media which applauds them, with a few bought-and-paid-for pundits cheering that moderation and compromise are still alive.
It still is, yet it lives on in the worst way possible. Instead of bemoaning this where it matters less (although fights over civil rights and other “controversial” issues are still important) we should encourage our politicians to at least debate the big issues that will matter to all of us and our future as a nation and a people.