Monday, 18 September 2006

A Time for Partisanship

We should yearn for dialogue, not stridency; for calmly deliberated, rational solutions in public policy, not do-nothing bickering between shrill ideologues which leaves us with the status quo.

Frustration in America is palpable across the political spectrum. People with very different ideas about what direction is best are rightly annoyed that partisan divisiveness has engendered a climate of distrust.

Appealing to that frustration can result in some pretty compelling political advertising by candidates from any party who claim to represent a sensible deliberate approach to governance while attacking partisanship as a divisive source of political gridlock.

In my state of Washington, Republican candidate for Senate, Mike McGavick, is airing such a set of commercials. But I know that McGavick supports policies which run counter to my idea of good governance. (And his implication that incumbent Senator Cantwell is an exemplar of partisan divisiveness is dishonest. Cantwell's biggest problem may well come from the pacifist sensibilities of the liberal leaning Puget Sound electorate, many of whom were upset with the extent to which she supported Bush's Iraq policy.) More importantly, independents and moderate Republicans need to understand that in order for real dialogue to be restored, one-party control of government must be squashed.

That's right -- partisanship, specifically Democratic partisanship, is desperately needed right now to bring some balance to government so that dialogue can return.

Jack Whelan at the After the Future, summed it up brilliantly in a pair of posts (1) & (2) a month ago. Please read them both!
. . . moderates play right into the hands of the far right which hopes that no one mounts a serious opposition to their agenda. The longer the hard right can keep the moderates diverted in "reasonable" conversation, the more time it gives it to consolidate power. That's why moderates need throw their support to partisan Democrats, whether they like them or not. There is no other way to create a potent counterbalance to the power-grabbing agenda of the right. The right works hard to present a reasonable facade, but feels no need to negotiate or compromise unless it is forced to do so, and at the moment there is no political power potent enough to force such negotiations.

So my point is that moderates, if they really understood how serious the threat we are facing, would have no choice but to become partisans in opposing the current power grab by the far right. There is no way to communicate the seriousness of this threat moderately. And since moderates are inoculated against immoderate language, they cannot hear the alarm because it is alarmist. As such they are vulnerable to manipulation by the far right who achieve their ends precisely by playing moderates for the moderates that they are.

. . . There are no moderates in one-party systems; there are only collaborators. ... I consider myself a centrist, but I know many readers consider me alarmist. ... And I am particularly alarmed that moderates are still sitting on the fence because they think that's the grownup, reasonable thing to do. On the contrary, it's time to get alarmed, very alarmed.
Someone reading only this, or for that matter only Jack's articles might well complain that we have not cited the evidence that requires such an alarm. But I have to wonder what box such a person must have been living in for the last 5 years.

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