One of the most significant issues in our politics is that everyone must be branded with a label. Even a degree of individualism in party politics is persona non grata. If someone falls even remotely outside the lines of ideological design, they are condemned as not one of us. Both Republicans and Democrats are guilty.
Neither political party has all the solutions, but their heads are so large they believe anyone who opposes them is not only their enemy but the enemy of the people of the United States. Forget bipartisanship among the two parties; resolving partisanship internally has become a struggle. Ideally, any party should be able to find a compromise on any legislative proposal or concept and not resort to public condemnation of those who are not on board with the party platform. Unfortunately, common decency has lost its way in government.
Republicans have unquestionably and regrettably become the party of Former President Donald Trump. He is the overlord who must approve of every move, or there will be backlash and accusations of being a RINO. A derogatory phrase to condemn anyone who dares step out of line with the party overlords or sole overload in this case. Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky understands the potential treachery Republicans face. He is not innocent, though. Like with all leaders, there is a demand to conform. With Mr. McConnell, it is more behind the scenes than Mr. Trump, who makes his opposition to members of his party crystal clear to the public. Neither is in the right. Mr. Trump does not have the party’s best interests at heart, just himself. His lack of ability to handle criticism, even constructive, is a concern.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is not running for reelection. Mr. Baker has an approval rating of over 70% in a Democrat-dominated state. Mr. Trump has endorsed Geoff Diehl, who will struggle to win a Republican primary, never mind a general election. It would be in the best interest of Republicans to start accepting internal differences. Primaries are intra-party battles, but in the end, there should not be resentment for the ultimate winner. My bet is with Mr. Trump; there will be resentment because he did not get his way.
Sen. Mitt Romney is a bonafide conservative. No one willing to accept reality could argue otherwise. Despite that, he is one of the most criticized Senators by conservatives. Listen to conservative talk shows like Mark Levin, and you would think Sen. Bernie Sanders has infiltrated the Republican Party. Please take a look at Mr. Romney’s voting record and tell me how he compares to a Democrat. Voting to convict Mr. Trump indeed increased the hostility toward him, but conservatives have been critical of Mr. Romney long before that. Voting to convict Mr. Trump, who for some reason is infallible too many Republicans, does not decrease his credentials as a conservative Republican.
There is the argument he voted for President Biden’s Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, which equated to being pro-pedophile by the extreme right; he cannot be a Republican. The Supreme Court should be based on legal qualifications alone, not politics. This is a lost concept in America. The Supreme Court nomination process has become the equivalent of campaigning for political office.
Democrats are no better. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have taken extraordinary heat simply because they do not buy into all of President Biden’s agenda. The expectation is they will abandon their genuine concerns and opposition for the good of party politics. Their votes have been taken for granted, and if they do not bow to demands by party leaders, they are the enemy. Manchin has made clear he is an old-school West Virginia Democrat and not a liberal.
Ms. Sinema once identified as a progressive and a former member of the Green Party. Her views have since moderated dramatically. She is considered one of the most moderate Senate Democrats, only second to Mr. Manchin. Is moderation her calculated attempt at representing Arizona, which was once deep red and now more of a purple state, or has her point of view genuinely evolved? Political pragmatism would not be the end of the world in our country. In 2018 Ms. Sinema ran for the Senate in Arizona as a political moderate attempting to appeal to Republicans alienated by then-President Trump and independents. She even went as far as to say she would not vote for Sen. Chuck Schumer as Democrat leader in an attempt to separate herself from liberal Democrats. Did those that voted for her and are now disappointed think she was lying? She never claimed to be the new coming of progressive politics.
Both parties should embrace the reality that an internal and external divide is good for Democracy as a whole. Using every shortcut available to enact legislative priorities and browbeating those who oppose is counterproductive. The likes of Mr. Romney and Ms. Sinema are not problems in our politics. They are part of their respective caucuses with their own point of view that deserves respect among their peers. The conservative and progressive point of view should be respected as well.
The difficulty progressives face is their agenda cannot gain the support of the entire Democrat caucus. Therefore, moving forward with the need to implement an ideological agenda at all costs needs a reality check. Look at the situation the demands of progressives and liberals alike have created. Only now are Democrats willing to accept anything Mr. Manchin and Ms. Sinema will vote for on the formerly Build Back Better legislation. That attitude should have been embraced from the onset.
You could argue it is wrong for two Senators out of 50 Democrats to hold up their entire agenda, but senators are elected to represent their states, not their party. Mr. Manchin’s willingness to discuss Build Back Better in a state that voted for Mr. Trump by almost 40% should be considered a blessing. As of this writing, President Biden’s approval rating is 18% in West Virginia.
Both expressed their reservations about many aspects of Build Back Better. Ms. Sinema was more private in expressing her concerns, and Mr. Manchin made multiple media appearances expressing his concerns. Democrats, instead of listening, attempted to beat them into submission. Now Democrats find themselves close to getting nothing. Internal strife within political parties does not need to sink to this level. Mr. Manchin could be responsible for not being as forthright as he should be, whether that was to be intentionally deceptive in attempting to run out of the clock or for fear of being condemned. Mr. Manchin eventually did drive the stake through the heart of Build Back Better, and it has worked out to his benefit.
It is questionable whether he lives by it, but President Biden has a good message. We can do anything as Americans if we do it together. Biden needs to take his own advice. Mr. Trump would not even know what that means.
Image Credit: “Mitt Romney” by Gage Skidmore is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.
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