Sunday, March 25, 2012

Has partisanship ruined our government?


What has happened to the world we live in over the last twenty years or so? I ask myself that question often. It seems like there’s no room for common ground to build alliances to work together for the common good of all. It sometimes seems that everyone thinks that anyone who disagrees with them is the enemy. We need to be more tolerant of opposing views in order to meet somewhere in the middle and attempt to get things accomplished.

I believe in the motives behind the ACLU – protecting everyone’s civil liberties as guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. I believe the ACLU is right in defending the rights of a black young woman being denied entrance to an institution of higher learning based on her race. I also believe the ACLU would be right in defending the rights of a white man being denied employment based on the color of his skin simply to reflect diversity, however desirable the result might be, in the workplace.

I do not believe that the ACLU should be taking on cases of individuals who claim to be bothered or embarrassed by public displays of religious beliefs or cultural pride simply because it makes them feel different. Everyone is different than the majority in some way. Everyone is uncomfortable with others’ actions or words or displays at some time. Get over it. We are supposed to be a melting pot. People are embarrassed in the process of life. There are not only winners…there are also losers. This politically correct world we’ve begun to create for ourselves is hurting our future generations, not helping them.

There are more sides to issues than simple black and white answers can convey. The opinions expressed above are my own. You may agree or disagree with them but that doesn’t make one opinion right and another wrong. We should be allowed to disagree and peacefully discuss the issue and, hopefully, meet somewhere in the middle.

The same is true for political party affiliation. Gone are the days when most people would go to the voting booth and pull the single lever of Democrat or Republican. Most of us like to look at ourselves as independent voters. In spite of this the partisan divide in federal and state government has never been so wide, at least in my memory.

I believe that most voters vote for a candidate (or party) based upon his/her worst fears. So to, the candidates seem to pander to those fears when politicking for an office. The immigrant community, especially those who are undocumented or have loved ones who are undocumented, will vote for any candidate that promises that anyone caught being here illegally will be given an opportunity for citizenship. These individuals pretty much don’t care what the candidate’s other views are.

The rich, so-called 1%, of wealthy Americans are looking for a candidate who will continue the Bush tax breaks and be friendlier to big business and Wall Street so that they can keep more of their investment portfolio. These individuals are usually touting the evils of big government and the benefits of a free market society. Any candidate who assures them that these are his priorities also will get their vote.

The capitalists, and so-called job creators, want business restrictions lifted to allow them to make better profits in their business. Any politician who promises to ease the limits on outsourcing jobs overseas or allows them to skirt some of the environmental laws to increase their bottom line can count on their vote.

People who are part of the entitlement minded Americans who believe that the government should take care of them and their families with free housing, food stamps and Welfare checks every month do not want the government to abandon them. Many of these families are multi-generational recipients of social handouts. If a candidate threatens to investigate Welfare fraud, cut benefits and reduce the number of social programs these voters will rally around his opponent.

Many of our elderly citizens vote on the single issue of protecting their Social Security payments and Medicare coverage. Any candidate who threatens the security of these systems will face their wrath at the polls. They are scared enough regarding such proposals that virtually anything else the candidate stands for is disregarded when they are at the polls.

Many working people, especially those in unionized labor, are deathly afraid of the latest trend in anti-labor policies – the breaking of contracts and abolishment of collective bargaining. They would rather vote for someone who holds opposing views on almost every other issue than allow someone who is anti-labor be elected to public office.

And finally, the conservative Christians will only vote for someone who has the same views on the sanctity of life and when life begins. Most favor marriage being only between a man and a woman and will penalize a candidate who believes in marriage equality proposals.

While there are a multitude of factors that influence my vote the biggest factor to me personally, at this point in my life, is how a candidate feels (and will vote) on labor related issues – especially with the battle lines being drawn all around the country regarding this. Also, I could never find a candidate who would have beliefs which completely echoed my own. And I certainly couldn’t find a candidate who would vote the way I would like him to vote on every issue, because my beliefs are scattered on both sides of the political divide.

I believe that illegal immigrants are just that – illegal. They are costing the taxpayers millions of dollars in tax revenue and taking jobs from U.S. citizens. They are also cheating those would-be immigrants who are attempting to enter this country in the proper manner. When we (our government agencies) encounter illegals they should be detained and deported.

As far as the Bush tax cuts are concerned I believe that they should be repealed and set back to where they were under the Clinton administration. If you look at our country’s history the highest tax bracket has risen during or directly after our nation has faced economic hardship – after WWI, the Great Depression and WWII. Also, the tax breaks have not had the effect that they were intended to bring about. There has been a substantial loss of jobs, not job creation.

I think the Welfare system is completely broken. There are, however, many citizens who could not survive without some sort of assistance. The answer, I believe, is to temporarily put more money into investigation of fraud along with swift and substantial penalties for those who are guilty of this. Also, anyone capable of working should be required to work at least part time in order to remain qualified for Welfare payments, food stamps or subsidized housing.

I also truly believe that the Social Security system must be protected at all costs, or at least until another system is fully funded and operational for future retirees. Too many Americans rely on SS to survive and as therefore the integrity of the system is a matter of the government’s responsibility to keep that promise.

What we desperately need is a renewed era of bipartisanship to fix the present stalemate in government. Either that or a sufficient enough number of Independent representatives in government that would represent the swing votes on any pending legislation.

1 comment:

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