Saturday, June 2, 2012

Clapping with one hand produces no sound

PJ:  I grew up in an extremely conservative partisan family.  I became a registered Republican and proudly mouthed the talking points of my parents and their party.  Even with that deeply ingrained political attitude, I decided that I would vote for the person and their ideas and not simply for the party.  And I did. The first ballot I cast as a registered Republican was for a Democrat running for President.  My next was for a Democrat running for Governor of my state.  And my third was was for the Democrat who went on to unseat the Republican Congressional incumbant.  Over the course of my voting history, I did vote for GOP candidates but never could I have conceived of just voting for the party ticket.  That type of blind obiedience was never my fortay.

I used to describe myself as a fiscal conservative and a social liberal.  Now that doesn't even hold true. I have been a moderate to liberal independent for more than 30 years. I recognize the need for government services that protect and assist its citizens.  I believe that a government should be for the people and by the people but not for the party.

Experience has fostered my acceptance of things that I once rejected.  I have enjoyed having universal health coverage in the countries where I have lived, which is something that I had once condemned by using all the talking points of the right.  I have enjoyed freedoms offered to people in other countries which I didn't believe existed because the right-wing of the US said that they didn't exist.  I believed that other government's 'socialist' programs like health care took freedoms away from people because my party encouraged that belief.  Living in Europe and in Canada, I have experienced a life where I have been free to believe what I wish, speak freely about my opinions, not worry about health coverage, work for personal, professional and financial achievement and in general 'live the American dream' but I have not lived in the US for many, many years.

When I look back, I realize how naive I used to be about party politics where both parties demonize the other.   Sometimes I have to shake my head at the thought that I was ever a registered Republican.  As I am now, the party does not represent me or my beliefs at all.  When I look back (...way back) at my younger self, I realize that today's Republican party does not represent that version of me either--perhaps it never did.

When George W. Bush was elected to his first term as President, while I did not vote for him,  I wanted him to succeed.  I had left the Republican party a long time before and I heard the chatter from the left trying to demonize the man.  But I wanted him to succeed.  I wanted him to succeed because it was important that he did.  It was important for the US and it was important for the world.  Sadly, his policies left the country more hated internationally than it had ever been and in his last year in office we saw the US economy enter a freefall leaving the country and much of the world in dire economic straights.  I still wish he had succeeded but reality is a pesky thing.

When Obama was elected President I wanted him to succeed too.  And I think that he has on many fronts done just that.  The economy is slowly recovering, the auto industry is once again strong, the US is viewed more favourably around the world and Americans who were once denied health coverage due to pre-existing conditions will now receive coverage.   I still want him to succeed.

What I do not, have not, and will never understand is how Americans can root against their own self interests by viewing public policy through partisan looking glasses.  The powers on the right seem to be doing everything in their power to prevent President Obama's success.  Their blind hatred for the man in power is unquestionably destructive.  Their stated goal at the time of President Obama's inauguration was that he be a one-term president.  To date they have done everything in their power to try to make that happen by blocking every inititative, even initiatives that had once been sponsored by their own party.  Their desire to stall the economic recovery so that they can pin the blame on the President is heinous.

When will Americans realize that nothing positive will be accomplished until their elected representatives learn to work together for the benefit of the people represented by both parties and not simply for the power grab of one of them.  In ancient China they knew that "clapping with one hand produces no sound".  Let's hope that Americans soon learn that it really does take two to tango. 

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