Monday, January 11, 2010

A House Divided

In all the years I've followed politics, which is practically all my life, I've never seen us so divided by party. This division became pronounced in the second President Bush's terms of office, I feel, because of his "You're either with me or agin' me" attitude. I had hoped that President Obama could bring us back together again but a year after he took office we seem to be more divided than ever.

This country has seen political divisions and personal attacks in campaigns ever since the rumors about Jefferson and his slave and most famously the attacks on President Jackson's personal life. In my lifetime though political games were more civilized until just a few years ago. As we're seeing right now with Harry Reid's apology for so-called racist remarks about candidate Obama, that's all it takes for the other party to jump all over someone and try to drive them out of office. Both parties are guilty - I'm not just criticizing Republicans here.

When I learn about a candidate's views in order to decide whether I want to vote for him or not, I don't expect to agree with him about everything. I simply want to vote for a person who agrees with most of my opinions on important issues. I am registered with the party I normally agree with so I can participate in primaries, and in the general election I vote for the candidates I want to, rarely a straight ticket. According to party leadership these days, though, I'm supposed to endorse everything the party stands for. In that case, I would have to become an Independent and forfeit primaries.

I'd like to think that most citizens vote the way I do, but perhaps I'm being naive. Where I live voters are predominantly Republican and I know people who would rather croak than vote for a Democrat, but I don't think this area is representative of the country as a whole. At least I hope not.

My hope that President Obama could bring us all together is dimming. I don't see any sign that the division is easing in Washington and in fact the health care reform process seems to be building a solid wall between the aisles in Congress. I hate all the wheeling and dealing involved in this vital issue and I certainly don't know what the final bill will look like, but I support the effort on behalf of all Americans who cannot afford health insurance. We absolutely must help them.

We're all Americans and like it or not we're in this together. How can we hope to have a solid economy, jobs, education, environmentally sound policies and the other necessities of a nation that leads the world if we don't cooperate, compromise, give each other a say, help each other out, and work together to create opportunity? Instead of finding things to complain about, how about if we emphasize the positive. This is still a great country and I know we all love it. Let's show it.

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