Monday, March 1, 2010

Understanding Partisanship

E.J. Dionne Jr. - Living with partisanship -

"The word "partisanship" is typically accompanied by the word "mindless." That's not simply insulting to partisans; it's also untrue."
Mr. Dionne's contention is simply that what's going on in Washington these days is an honest disagreement over the style of governance favored by Republicans as opposed to the style of governance favored by Democrats. This is main stream stuff, so bear with me a little here. Republicans, according to E.J. "think market outcomes are almost always better than anything government can produce." There you have it. Get used to it. Get over it. Deal with it. Accept it.

As I've told students in my classrooms for years, "If you know what the problem is, then you already know 85% of the answer."  Progressives blow it when they remain stubbornly ignorant and disbelieving of the integrity and honesty of the Free Marketeers. They mean it. They're perfectly honest and up front about it. They hate government and hate it to the point of having lost all respect for it. When Senator Bunning puts a hold on unemployment benefits for folks without a job, Progressives simply assume that everyone thinks he's an ass. I mean, who possibly could be against the working class folks desperately trying to find work? Senator Bunning actually was in cahoots with Sen. Jon Kyl who is trying to leverage the unemployment benefits legislation to decrease the estate tax for .03% of estates. That would be estates valued at over 7 million dollars.... (imagine the inequity...sniff).  Democrat Blanch Lincoln has also signed on.... Free Marketeers. They are doing this with great deliberation and skill. They mean it.

Market outcomes... wrap your head around that for a little. Government IS the problem. Why? Because the government regulates markets, thereby inhibiting them. Taxes? The ultimate anti-profit. Every dollar the government takes in taxes is a dollar that can't be spent in the market. Less Taxes? More Profit! The SCOTUS has given us a glimpse of the style of governance that free markets can provide. First with the ruling that Corporations are now entitled to the benefits of free speech and now giving Corporations free reign to pollute our waters in the pursuit of profit. To a Free Marketeer, watersheds, streams, dry river beds, and landlocked lakes aren't anything more than dumping grounds. Turns out it's way cheaper to dump than recycle. Helps the bottom line. Generates profits. Big Time.

Market outcomes... Politicians become prostitutes. Lobbyists become pimps. Elections become auctions. This is the future of government by free market. Democrats "believe in using government to correct the inequities and inefficiencies the market creates." Republicans believe in creating and promoting those very same "inequities and inefficiencies" to create profit.  Remember the discussion about "boom and bust?"  All that booming and busting is what generates enormous wealth for the few, the elite, the well-positioned, the genealogically gifted. Democrats believe in government as the voice of the people, Republicans view government as the enemy because it's the voice of the people.  Both claim to speak for "real" Americans.

Neither side is an ass. Both sides are passionate. Both sides are elitist ideologues. In order to have any affect on the outcome of a political debate, these realities must be acknowledged and respected.

That's not cheap partisanship. It's a fundamental divide. The paradox is that our understanding of politics would be more realistic if we were less cynical and came to see the battle for what it really is.

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