The opinion editors at the Washington Post are concerned about the level of polarization in our national politics. This concern seems to pop up every time establishment pols inside the beltway get tossed out by voters. I can’t blame the Post for this position because business as usual is a good thing for their newspaper and a booming District means increased advertising revenues even for a print newspaper. But this a bit overboard:
THE INCREASING polarization of the nation’s politics is fueling a blood sport in this election year: the ideological purification of both parties. Conservatives in Utah denied Republican Sen. Robert Bennett renomination last week. Liberals have targeted Arkansas Democrat Sen. Blanche Lincoln in a May 18 primary. Activists in other states and congressional districts hope to punish politicians they view as insufficiently devoted to party creed.
But there are dangers, too. The world is complicated, and an electorate so diverse in geography, race, class and beliefs can’t be shoehorned into two fixed templates. There is no particular reason why all advocates of fiscal restraint should also oppose abortion rights, or why supporters of a progressive tax code should necessarily favor restrictions on gun ownership. The more litmus tests are imposed, the greater the number of voters who will find themselves politically homeless.
For many party cleansers, working across party lines constitutes treason. We agree that elected officials ought to be guided by principles that they are willing to fight for. But we also see a difference between fidelity to principle and dogmatism. If Republicans cannot accept that Democrats may make some reasonable arguments, and vice versa, then nothing will get done: no energy policy, for example. Mr. Bennett worked with Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon to develop a bipartisan health bill that responded to each party’s noble aspirations: Republican commitment to economic competition and individual choice in the service of Democratic commitment to universal, affordable care. But that bipartisan effort became a leading charge in the activists’ indictment of Mr. Bennett.
The Post doesn’t get it, but this isn’t the first time. They didn’t get it in 1994, 2000, 2006 and 2008. As for the polarization I can only ask: Who said “We Won”? It wasn’t George Bush in 2000. And don’t fall for the Post’s concern about Bennett ( if there were a chance that seat could become a Democratic pick up they would already have forgotten how to spell Bennett’s name). That’s a fig leaf for their real concern about the Democrats’ potential loss of the Senate.
The Post is ignoring the 800 pound gorilla again. The Stimulus Legislation, which was a monumental failure at job creation and, well, stimulus in general, was a partisan issue crammed down Republican throats. ObamaCare, the largest piece of legislation in decades, was crammed down Republican throats. The Chrysler and GM bailouts, which were multibillion dollar sops to the Democrat’s largest financial backers (unions), were crammed down Republican throats. Closing Gitmo the same. Granting terrorists access to U S criminal courts the same. Somewhere in that process an electorate began to revolt and, as I’ve said before, the banquet of consequences began. When the WaPo writers use language in their article like “party cleansers”, “blood sport”, and “ideological purification” it becomes obvious to any reader whose ox is getting gored. The WaPo cares as much about compromise and bi partisanship as their principal owner, Warren Buffet, cares for financial losses. The WaPo knows that a majority of its ox herd will be gored in November so now they plead for fairness, bi partisanship and objectivity. Where were you guys in 2008 and 2009 when the Obama/Pelosi/Reid juggernaut was rolling over conservatives with no regard for compromise?