Recently my wife and I had the pleasure of attending a Scottish Games festival at a North Georgia park. These athletes perform feats which are an amazing demonstration of strength, agility and technique. In one event they heave a 56 pound block of steel 9 feet in the air, using only one arm! No wonder few in history have been interested in tangling with a Scot.
It must have been these games that made me think of tug of war. Im sure you remember, its the game which pits one team of players (say red and blue) against the other in a test of strength unity, and endurance. Each team tries their best to pull the other into the mud (think media) with a rope. Generally, there is a rag, or ribbon, which denotes the middle of the rope. We could, for the sake of argument, call this marker legislation.
Was all of that too obvious?
I could go on all or nothing, team captains, line in the sand (mud), the games not over until the entire other team falls down but I think you get the idea.
Tug of war is a fun game, on the athletic field. In my opinion, its a divisive, non-productive, and shameful game in the halls of Congress.
I find it unfathomable that we, the American people, actually want, and would vote for, hard-line-caused, Congressional gridlock. Weve had it before, and were reliving it now. It appears were destined to keep living it, suffering the result that essentially nothing meaningful ever gets accomplished. Unfortunately, we have obviously moved away from whats best for the people, to whats best for the party. I must sound like a broken record, but compromise is still not a dirty word, and there is a reason for the color grey not everything is black and white.
The apparent leader of this hard line stance is the Tea Party. Its not that I generally disagree with their principles, I dont, but I vehemently disagree with their hard-line methods. Incidentally, the Tea Party is not a non-affiliated third political party. They are the extreme right, my way or the highway, arm of the Republican Party. Yes, I know there are a couple of Democrats in the wood pile, but that doesnt change the facts. Let the membership roll speak for itself.
It is, these very Tea Party-supported, candidates, and those like them, who are at the heart of our present problem. However, let me be clear, the candidates do not, even as much as theyd like to, elect themselves. We the people have to vote for them in order for them to be elected. Consequently, voting for a no-compromise hard-liner is like voting to support gridlock. You may as well vote to support pollution.
I am not against belonging to a group of like-minded people. Let me mention several groups while you do a gut check as to your opinion of a person who might be a member of one of these groups.
The ACLU, NRA, AFL-CIO, PETA, PLFLAG, NAACP, Greenpeace, Pro-life Action League.
All of these organizations have good intentions, as well as some valid points. Unfortunately, it seems they each always take their positions to the extreme, thereby alienating many folks (including me) along the way. Can someone please say moderation?
Another very unfortunate consequence of this hard-line political thinking is the roller coaster of laws which get enacted because of it. For example, this year we have health care laws and next year we dont. This year we have Second Amendment rights and next year we dont.
If we were to enact legislation as a result of compromise, instead of plain old partisan politics, its likely we could tweak a law instead of calling for its repeal, or worse, sending it to the Supreme Court (SCOTUS).
I say worse because I once had the utmost confidence and trust in SCOTUS. I believed they would fairly and impartially judge a case based solely on its merits as it related to the Constitution. Apparently, this was a misplaced trust.
While my opinion of SCOTUS had been shifting of its own accord, two recent occurrences cemented the deal for me. The first was their decision saying, essentially, that corporations have rights under the constitution thereby allowing hundreds of millions of dollars to flow into our elections. That decision (purely political and likely to be reversed) now assures us that we will have the best government money can buy. This is surely what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they drafted the Constitution, they must be so pleased.
The second occurrence was a book I read called Scorpions by Noah Feldman. While the book mainly addresses the career path of only four justices during FDRs tenure, it sheds a clear light on the behind-the-scenes politics of the court and their loyalties to the President who appointed them. It opened my eyes to the true political nature of the court and particularly how split decisions are rendered. I have no doubt that the allegiances to party and President today are at least as strong as they were then, if not more so.
There are a massive amount of Senators and Congressmen up for reelection this year. We have five months to pay close attention to who they are, what they think, and where they are on the political spectrum. I suggest we use the time wisely and choose carefully.
While a hard-liner may look good today, we will be stuck with their no- compromise, gridlock-causing position for years to come.
Thats my opinion, whats yours?
Rick Godfrey writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.