Monday, October 1, 2012

The Parties Versus the People

How to Turn Republicans and Democrats into Americans

I thought I was perhaps alone in being deeply concerned with the us-vs-us politics of the last couple of decades.  Here's a thoughtful look by a knowledgeable insider.

Book Summary

To banish the negative effects of partisan warfare from our political system, a former congressman, drawing on his first-hand experience with legislative battles, presents a solution-based, practical way to break the stranglehold of the political party system.

Go to
to see the book write-up and a fascinating excerpt.  You can buy a copy there as well, if you like.
"In 1970, 47 percent of the members of the U.S. Senate were regarded as moderate. Today, that figure is 5 percent, and it is even lower in the House of Representatives. The decline of moderate views in Congress suggests a kind of dysfunction: a dramatic gap between the views and attitudes of the American people and the commonalities and differences that exist among our citizens, on the one hand, and what we wind up with in our elected representatives, on the other. Something is going wrong in our politics.
The dysfunction that has almost paralyzed our federal government has its roots not in the people, not in any fundamental flaw in our constitutional processes, but in the political party framework through which our elected officials gain their offices and within which they govern."
The author and former congressman Mickey Edwards came to a strong conclusion in his 16 years in Congress: Political parties are the "cancer at the heart of our democracy."

Edwards is one of the founders of No Labels, an organization devoted to bipartisan (or nonpartisan) political action. He argues for changes in how we elect our representatives -- the role of parties in primaries, redistricting, and campaign financing, he explains, has stifled the ability of voters to find and elect candidates who truly represent not only their interests, but their values. Once in office, he says, congressional members can and should be forced into more productive problem solving by removing or tweaking some of the worst (and most recent) excesses of partisan power.

The dilemma we face with the upcoming election is that we have no opportunity there to address or resolve our adversarial gridlock.  Congress has settled into a partisan battle, it seems, with little ability to make progress for the good of the nation.

The parties have yet to offer anything we couldn't get at a wrestling match.  We'll vote for our favorite, perhaps, but we won't have solved our greatest challenge.  We don't need a political victory for one side or another, we need to be healed as a nation.