Crossposted at The Rockefeller Republican.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up my childish ways.- 1 Corinthians 13:11
When Obama paraphrased this passage in his inaugural speech on Tuesday I wondered if those who really needed to hear it did or even could. Only a few minutes earlier crowds chanted in a derogatory manner toward former President Bush as he ceremoniously left the capital. And before the parade had even begun, callers to conservative radio programs railed against Obama, his speech, his demeanor and the inauguration itself. It seems as if the political battle lines are so taughtly drawn that a ceasefire between Red Sox and Yankee fans is easier to pull off. However, politics is not really a game for the stakes are much too high; and we do need to put away our childish ways if we are to fix our current problems. Debate is a good and healthy part of any democracy, but partisanship for partisanship’s sake needs to end.
Once, not too long ago, our government was run by two political parties who, while spirited opponents of each other’s positions, were able to come together in a civil way when they needed to. For a variety of reasons this ethos has been lost. Over the past 16 years specifically, the hostility has grow to the point where extreme adherents to either side view their opponents with such scorn that civility seems an impossibility. Something changed during the Clinton/Bush years. Clinton had of course famously battled with the Gingrich-led Republican congress, and while the Bush years are too recent to give any summative evaluation it seems fair to say that congress felt they could vote with him while at the same time rail against him in the media, and he at times was heavy-handed in his dealings with them in return.
What’s past is past. We need to change our manner of dealing with each other for the future. The problems we have now, and those on the horizon are simply too big, too consequential, and too hard for us not to find a way we can work together. The Middle East is a tinderbox on the verge of exploding. Pakistan and Afghanistan are becoming hotbeds for Islamic extremists again. Russia is dangerously rearing its head in international affairs. The current economic crisis could turn to a world-wide depression at any time. These are not some Nostradamus doomsday predictions; this is the world we now live in.
As a conservative there are certain ways I feel these crises should be dealt with, much of which center around a muscular foreign policy with many “boots on the ground,” continued low tax rates, and forward looking stimulus. However, I also know that there are well-meaning progressives who have their own set of ideas. If I am ever to convince them of the benefits of a conservative solution I have to at least entertain their ideas, and they need to respond in kind. Partisanship for its own sake will only lead us to more stalemate, more divisiveness and less solutions. All of us, myself included, need to stop acting like children at play, rooting for our team no matter what the cost. We need to root for solutions. Period.