President Bush has called the bluff of congressional leaders. In his State of the Union address last night, Bush gave every indication that he was willing to reach across the aisle to work with Democrats on key political issues. The interesting part of this tactic is that now there is no one to blame. The media have been constantly blaming Bush and Republicans for being “partisan” in the politics game. All lack of progress has been the Bush administration’s fault because of its unwillingness to concede on issues for the “betterment of the American people.” Even the commentators were falling into this last night by saying how rough a year 2005 was for Bush and his staff. This presupposes, of course, that the liberal media elite in this country have been correct in their finger-pointing and slanted reporting.
Let’s face it. This whole “partisan politics” issue is wearing a bit thin. Both sides believe they have the answers; both sides have an agenda that doesn’t always factor in the “betterment of the American people.” The problem with the battles that go on in congress is that we have career politicians who have completely isolated themselves from “the American people” that they claim to serve and have created a parallel universe in Washington D.C. Unlike the president, the congress can stay basically the same year after year because there are no term limits in place to prevent some lifetime appointee like Ted Kennedy or Arlen Specter from getting more and more out of touch with the “real world.” Laws and legislation are debated and agonized over for days and weeks in the Senate and House that really have no relevance to the typical American family. Congress never realizes this, however, because they live in their own little world. Their one point of contact with their hometown electorate consists of television coverage showing them standing up and applauding for the president when they agree or sitting down looking smug when they disagree.
Partisan politics is a way of life. Is the news partisan? Is the New York Times neutral in its reporting of the news? Is FOX news really balanced? Of course not. The very fact that Democrats sat on their hands while Republicans gave an ovation at the mention of the line-item veto shows how very partisan politics in this country has become. Congress is allowed to write items into bills, but the president can’t take them out? Is the Supreme Court partisan when it makes decisions that affect the very fabric of American life? Of course it is, that’s why Democrats fought Sam Alito’s confirmation so hard. What we are really witnessing is the end result of a two-party system. We expect white and black on the issues that affect our lives, and we end up with shades of gray. The only problem is, everyone loses with gray. Absolutes go out the window, pragmatism rules the day, and we end up a little closer to a messianic state. The very factors that made the economics of this country work in the first place—free enterprise and individual responsibility—are being turned over to a big daddy state that can only think in terms of bureaucracy. Small business gets sacrificed on the corporate altar because of the assumption that bigger is better. If we widen the safety net, fewer people will fall through, or so the thinking goes. But who gets to pay for the mending of the net? What happens if all corporations start to run themselves like the U.S. Government? Where will the money come from then? These questions are never addressed because Congress sits in its own created universe moving around and redistributing large coffers of cash that were heisted from productive American citizens.
Partisan politics have always been with us and always will be. No matter what side of the fence you sit on, the other side will always be wearing the “black hat.” We all hold what we believe tenaciously and believe that we’re right, or else we would believe something else. Postmodernism can theoretically destroy these boundary markers, but practically they never left. We always have been a partisan nation, but never has it been more apparent when the media decided to divide us up into blue and red states. Subjectivity becomes objectivity when you put it on a chart. President Bush has passed the baton back to the media—the opinion-barons of the nation—showing that he is willing to play the game. It will be interesting to watch what the media do with it.