Democrats vs Republicans

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This topic contains 35 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  Andrew Krzmarzick 9 years, 1 month ago.

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  • #171788

    David Dejewski
    Participant

    What are your thoughts about the polarization of American politics?

    This trailer is from the movie Patriocracy in case you’d like to see the complete film.

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  • #171858

    Two problems in Washington:

    – Perpetual campaign mode and always worrying more about funders vs. citizens (and this is from both parties, but the special interests on either side drive this problem)

    – Polarization prevents elected officials from considering meaningful legislation – even though it might benefit their constituents – if it would mean that the “other side” would score political points.

    I wish we could find a way for a legitimate third party to emerge as a real challenger…

  • #171856

    David Dejewski
    Participant

    “Humans are tribal…”

  • #171854

    David Dejewski
    Participant

    CEO’s withholding money from any politician who can’t break from partisan politics.

    NoLabels.org pushing from the center in both directions.

    “These are what we call ‘high class’ problems…”

  • #171852

    David Dejewski
    Participant

    “A lot of decent people are stuck in a rotten system”

  • #171850

    Terrence Hill
    Participant

    I can’t wait until AFTER November 6th! We need to stop worrying about our political parties and focus on the issues. We saw a glimpse of this after 9/11 and most recently after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. We need to have the same sense of brotherhood in tackling national issues, such as tackling the deficit and avoiding sequestration. After that, we need to work together to shore up our Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid system. Then, let’s focus on removing ourselves from Afghanistan. These issues are not dem/rep issues. These are American issues, similar to the Hurricane Sandy devastation issues. We are all in this together.

  • #171848

    Terrence Hill
    Participant

    LOVE the idea of No Labels. Just not sure if anyone knows about this movement. This movement has real promise to rally around problem solving, not blaming!

  • #171846

    Debra Yamanaka
    Participant

    I think David Gregory said it best last night when he said “the problem with the power coming back on in Washington last night is that with it came the campaign ads.”

  • #171844

    David Dejewski
    Participant

    Brilliant. 🙂

  • #171842

    Peter Sperry
    Participant

    Polarization is definately a problem in democracies. Fist fights are common in several asian legislatures (Korea, the Phillapeans and Taiwan have some of the more amusing). The EU currently is seeing a dramatic increase in sepratist movements (referendums pending in Catalonia, Flanders and Scotland). Our politics tends to be a bit more raucus than most but physical violance between elected officials is actually fairly rare and we do seem to have taken succession off the table.

    There are however some political leaders who do set an example of unified cooperation and dignified national leadership.

    http://articles.latimes.com/print/2012/oct/27/world/la-fg-china-congress-20121027

    Of course, it is somewhat easier to eliminate partisan bickering when elected(?) officials retain the option of using armored vehicles to end discussions.

    If a certain amount of gridlock, heated rhetoric and election campaigns resembling a circus side show are part of the price we pay for actually getting to have a voice in our government; I would argue we are getting off cheap.

  • #171840

    David Dejewski
    Participant

    I’ve heard it time and again, Terry. People are tired of the political bashing and more interested in solutions.

  • #171838

    Tommy McInnis
    Participant

    Amen.

  • #171836

    Raymond Clark
    Participant

    Oh boy, is this one up my ally. I get the un-enviable task of watching the Congress for a living. I’ve been doing this now for over 12 years and it is my life’s study. So, the question is: Why are we so polarized? This brings us to the perverbial chicken and egg story; which came first? It the electorate polarized because our politics are, or is our politics polarized because of our electorate. I contend its the later. Congress does not act in a vacumn. It really does respond to its constituents. If they don’t, they don’t get re-elected. You can see this in our news coverage. You get either one view or the other. All other views be damned.

    The country as a whole has become so polarized over the last 20 years. There are arguably a number of reasons why. I tend to believe a lot has to do with our 24/7 news cycle and almost immediate access to information. We don’t take time to think anymore, we simply only have time to react. In that way we tend to be drawn to what re-enforces our initial positions which tend to be emotion based, right or wrong.

    As for what happended to our Congress? Tom Dascle, the former Majority Leader of the Senate said it best. “Because we can’t bond, we can’t trust. Because we can’t trust, we can’t cooperate. Because we can’t cooperate, we become dysfunctional.” Our members no longer know each other. They don’t seek freindships across ailes, nor really within their own parties. This is never more evident or important than the Senate.

    The Senate was the body where the “heat of the House, cooled in the Senate.” This no longer happens. The Senate has in many ways become as fractured as the House. Twenty years ago you may have had 4 or 5 Senators who were former members of the House. Now the number is over 40. That’s dramatic! And those members have brought the visceralness of the House with them. Its completely neutered the Senate. If you look at where the legislative log jams have been, its been the Senate. Until that changes, you will not see improvement from the status quo. It doesn’t matter who is in the White House.

    I am very concerned over our future as never before. I used to say members of congress were here in DC so we could keep watch on them and not let them ‘mix’ with us normal folks. Well, its no longer funny. Anyone know of any good land sales in Ireland?

  • #171834

    Raymond Clark
    Participant

    Andrew, the answer is to fundementally change our system. If king for a day, I’d lengthen the term of a House member to 4 years, keep the Senate at six years, and have a one-term, six year presidency.

    Changing the House to 4 years gives members breathing room to actually legislate. It also serves the added benefit of not having this shoved down our throats every two years.

    Keep the Senate at six years, but consider repealing the constitutional amendment that changed how we elect Senators. Return their election to the State legislatures. Keeps the special interests at bay and keeps the Senate focused on its job and not getting re-elected.

    One six year presidency. The president, theoretically, then can focus on doing what he or she thinks is best and not on the politics of one side or the other. It also provides more incentive to reach across party lines.

  • #171832

    Amanda Rhea
    Participant

    The old saying is true: power corrupts. We are at a point where the people in power want to stay in power. Because of how our political system developed, that happens to be two different groups. They will use any means and play to whomever will help them meet that goal. The sensible people in the “middle” need to wrest the power back somehow. The biggest problem is that takes money and the people with money are currently backing either one side or the other.

  • #171830

    Mark Hammer
    Participant

    The permanent campaign is a bit of a juggernaut that is not derailed in the slightest by how many parties one has. Certainly, a fundamentally two-party system makes the content of the permanent campaign revolve around how much one is not “that guy” (ptui! ptui!), so a third or even 4th party would change some things. But we’ve had as many as 4 major parties here in Canada for a while, and the impact of the ongoing influence of campaign strategists and communications advisors on politics as campaigning (rather than thoughtful policy development) is not diminished in the least. If anything, the middle of the road has gotten rather crowded, as more parties vie for it.

    So, would more parties necessarily lead to a refreshingly greater diversity in approaches to policy development, and elected officials working harder to come up with the next bright idea? In the face of how much the permanent campaign has become entrenched, within both the politicians themselves, and the entire print/airwave/electronic media infrastructure that acquires broadcast content for the 24hr news cycle by constantly ratcheting it up, I honestly don’t know. Certainly, it can’t be entirely about fund-raising and engineering strategic gridlock forever. But how long it will take for this zeitgeist to become unappealing enough to a critical mass of stakeholders is anybody’s guess. I’m sure you realize that you can look somebody in the face and tell them “Hey, you’re better than that, and you know it.”, for an awfully long time before the lights go on.

  • #171828

    Peter Sperry
    Participant

    We need to foster greater discussion and understanding of diverse ideologies first. There has been too much of an emphasis in jumping into negotiations on some sort of grand bargain before laying the foundations for cooperation by actually working at learning what people really think and believe. The negotiators start off with the assumption “we all want the same thing, we just disagree about how to get there.” Then they are surprised when their grand bargain is rejected as a grand betrayal.

    First, seek understanding regarding various ideologies, world views etc by probing deeply rather than making assumptions based on documentaries from sources which are themselves heavily biased.

    Second, discuss how those ideologies and world views shape goals and objectives. Try asking the people who actually hold these opinions about their goals rather than relying on misinformed academics.

    Third, separate the goals which are mutually exclusive (Sharia / secular state) from those which are not (limited government / effective government). Agree to disagree peacefully regarding mutually exclusive goals. If necessary, clarify consequences for not keeping disagreements peaceful.

    Fourth, prioritize commonly held goals which are not mutually exclusive, followed by mutually exclusive goals supported by an overwhelming majority, preferably greater than 80 percent but at least 60. Be prepared to deal with vocal minorities whose mutually exclusive goals are on the losing end of that math.

    Carefully determine and explain why prioritized goals are not mutually exclusive using recognized advocates for each respective goal. Do NOT send out recognized opponents of a particular ideology to explain how a given proposal actually achieves the goal of that ideology, it insults peoples’ intelligence.

    Only after reaching this point, can leaders even begin to think about negotiating bargains regarding methods. Unfortunately, this is where too many of them want to start.

    There is very real opportunity to foster greater understanding, identify real common goals and develop bargains regarding methods to achieve those goals. I am not sure the “No Labels” organization is the best one to lead such an effort. Too many of their founders, staff, board members and spokespeople are viewed as either stalking horses or disgruntled apostates by the various ideologies they claim to represent or need to reach. David Walker generally commands uniform respect; but otherwise their published list of supporters often reads like a Who’s Who of politicians known to insiders to have broken just about every deal they ever made, former polemicists who turned on their own side for various reasons and professional moderates, primarily interested in book deals, speaking fees and fitting in at the right cocktail parties. Not many activists respect these people or would be inclined to follow their lead. Get Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich along with Grover Norquist, Erik Erikson, Michael Moore etc to lead a similar effort and it might produce some positive results.

  • #171826

    Javier Porras
    Participant

    I totally agree with Raymond Clark – he is right-on-point. Raymond, you have my vote…for “King for the Day!”

  • #171824

    David Dejewski
    Participant

    Raymond, I really like the point about “our 24/7 news cycle and almost immediate access to information.” I suspect you’re correct that this has an effect on not only term limits, but the way we think about politics.

    Interesting also the idea that former members of Congress have been slowly occupying more and more seats in the Senate. I hadn’t made that connection. So you believe that House methods and thinking have been slowly taking over the Senate’s methods and thinking. I’m also wondering about the relatively small pool of politicians we must have if the same men and women have been occupying both sets of seats.

  • #171822

    Raymond Clark
    Participant

    Your intuition is good, David. Running, and I mean the continual running, for election is not for the weak of heart. Sane people just don’t do this. So, you are right, there are less people looking for public office then at any time in our history. We’ve simply made it too hard.

    Also, people talk a great deal about the “do-nothing” congress, but that dosn’t mean it isn’t stressful. A member’s calendar is broken out in 5-minute time slots from 8 in the morning to late, late at night. The average citizen would be stunned at the sight of some of these schedules. Its like mice on a treadmill; lots of movement, just not in any direction, ergo lack of serious legislation being passed (among other reasons).

  • #171820

    David Dejewski
    Participant

    I wonder if longer term limits, as you suggest, Raymond, have become necessary as part of our natural evolution. All the things you said about our access to information and reactionary thinking have me wondering.

    If we did do longer term limits, would this give the necessary breathing room to legislate or would this give incumbents a longer time at the microphone to dig in and fend off challengers? How do we break old habits and put the focus back on issues?

  • #171818

    David Dejewski
    Participant

    I once asked my Congressional Liaison (in a fit of frustration): What would happen if a freshman walked onto the Hill carrying a banner that said “Do the Right Thing?” She said they would kill him in two weeks. I trust she meant his/her career.

  • #171816

    David Dejewski
    Participant

    Peter – reading your post, I wondered what you think the difference is between “ideologies, as you put it, and “issues.” So you think there is a distinction? Should we understand one another’s ideologies as well as focus on the issues, or do you think that understanding one another’s ideologies will help us come together on solutions better?

  • #171814

    David Dejewski
    Participant

    Ha! Javier, looks like we have a new write-in question for the ballot tomorrow. 😉

  • #171812

    David Dejewski
    Participant

    Raymond, what is the process for fundamentally changing our system?

  • #171810

    Raymond Clark
    Participant

    You assume, David, that there was a time when issues were more important than politics. There are very few of those times. Besides, politics isn’t a dirty word. Politics is simply the container to which one party’s ideals, beliefs, and philosophies are poured. The difference today, is that politics are no longer the win-win proposition they used to be. We are now a winner take all system.

    Extend the time to legislate and de-emphasize the next election, and keep the president “above” the politics of the day, and you may just get somewhere.

  • #171808

    David Dejewski
    Participant

    You make a good point or three, Raymond.

    Hasn’t history always written by the victor – be it in battle or in politics?

  • #171806

    Raymond Clark
    Participant

    It would require a constitutional amendment.

  • #171804

    Dale M. Posthumus
    Participant

    The problem starts with us. Everyone complains about Congress every election cycle. Yet, we return 90+% of them. “My rep is good. It is yours that is bad”. Second, how many of you would really vote for someone who has high integrity, but supports policies you do not support, vs. a corrupt politican who stands for the policies you hold most dear? Third, we as individuals are no less partisan than our representatives. Look at the discussions on WaPo or any other web site. Look at yourself…how often have you critcized Obama or Romney based on character traits rather than policy — “I do not agree with Obama’s policy on welfare because I believe it does not help to put people back to work”, vs. “Obama is a socialist who wants more people to be dependent on government”. Or, “I do not agree with Romney’s position on the role of the wealthy in our economy because I believe the wealthy do not invest sufficiently in social needs”, vs. “Romney is a big business capitalist that only cares about profits”. Be honest with yourself. I struggle with this all of the time.

  • #171802

    Peter Sperry
    Participant

    David — Ideologies flow from a person’s basic world views regarding everything from religion to family, sense of community, self reliance, etc and focuses the world view on questions regarding the role of government in the community. Issues address individual questions of public policy and answer those questions within the framework of the ideology. In a perfect world, we would at least fully understand a wide variety of world views including those we might find offensive. Understanding the world view would help us understand the ideology, which would help us understand not just what issue position a group supports but why they support that position as well as the level of intensity. An over simplified example would be understanding why an independent, self reliant secular humanist might tend to gravitate toward a libertarian ideology favoring very limited government while a dependent community oriented spiritual but not religious might tend toward a liberal ideology favoring big government social programs but more limited control of personal choices and a traditionalist family oriented religious fundamentalist would tend toward big government conservatism with robust social programs, government regulation of personal behavior etc. These are simplified examples but I think you can see where various groups could come to their issue positions through very different paths or even to the same position but with different levels of intensity. It will take an enormous amount of effort to reach this level of understanding, not least of which will be the need to abandon preconceived notions. But the payoff would be the ability to reach agreements that will actually be acceptable to the various constituencies.

  • #171800

    David Dejewski
    Participant

    It makes a lot of sense to me that people take different paths to arrive at a position. Understanding those paths sounds complicated, Peter. I’m wondering if there is an easier way.

  • #171798

    David Dejewski
    Participant

    Mom used to tell me that every time I pointed at someone else, at least three fingers were pointing back at me. Good point, Dale. 🙂

  • #171796

    Peter Sperry
    Participant

    Yes it is very complicated, even more so when attempted in the third largest country by population on the planet with the most diverse makeup of ethnic, ideological, religious etc groups. It is difficult, time consuming and often downright frustrating. Which is why we recruit legislators at salaries just below the top pay for the SES, support them with staff who envy the pay of GS-11s, require all of the above to work insane hours split between DC and the district, and never miss an opportunity to question their morals, intellect, motives and work ethic. We want to get the best people on the job. Yes there are many shortcuts. We seem to try them all. None have produced quality results but if we keep failing often enough we will run out of bad options and may actually put in the effort to do the job right. I would sell the yet unmortgaged portion of my soul to be back on the Hill working miserable hours at low pay to be part of that process. But as long as they are just going through the motions with the current futile efforts, I’ll stick with the relative good pay and job security of a career fed in the executive branch.

  • #171794

    David Dejewski
    Participant

    No need to mortgage your soul, Peter. 😉

  • #171792

    David Dejewski
    Participant

    I Voted in 2012, Did You? <— Click the link and register that You Voted!

  • #171790

    David Dejewski
    Participant

    Hey Terry! Today IS the 6th. Time to get out the vote and get back to work, right?

    The big question today is: I Voted in 2012, Did You?

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