The Common Sense Blog: The Success of the Party of "NO!"
For the past eight years the Republican Party has been the “Party of NO!” No compromise with congressional Democrats. No working with President Obama even when he proposed programs based on Republican ideas. (For example, Obamacare is modeled after the healthcare program Mitt Romney instituted as a Republican governor of Massachusetts.) Majority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell set the tone with his stated goal to make Obama a one-term president in 2008 and kept it going right through last year when he made sure the senate did not consider Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court. Former House Speaker John Boehner’s ouster came from the inflexible Tea Party wing of the “Party of NO!” which could not countenance any compromise of their Libertarian principles. All the attempts by Republicans to repeal Obamacare came from a place of intractable disagreement without offering either a viable alternative or the willingness to compromise. In the face of such congressional immobility, President Obama was forced to govern by executive order.
Will the self-described billionaire businessman, his business hires in the cabinet, and the Republican Congress really forego feathering their own nests? Or, will this new president really help the common worker who put him in power?
Throughout both terms, President Obama was woefully ineffective in educating the public why the government became so hamstrung by Republicans’ unwillingness to have constructive dialog and find common ground. Consequently, the Congress did little while the country suffered. Effective Wall Street regulations didn’t return, and we entered into a “financial economy” wherein big banks and companies got rich by hoarding money and raising the value of their stock instead of funding startups and financing growth in this country. Good American jobs became scarce. Many people, abandoned by corporate loyalty, had to work at several part-time jobs. The changes in the energy and manufacturing sectors left middle-aged workers behind while large corporations failed to train them for new careers. Job prospects for college graduates faded as tuition bills buried them in debt. The rich got richer. The poor got poorer, and the middle class shrank. A frustrated electorate didn’t see the role of the stonewalling Republican Congress and narrowly elected businessman Donald Trump over the experienced but status-quo symbol Hillary Clinton.
The “Party of NO!” won.
But those who voted for Trump want change. They want Congress to act. Bottom line: We’ll get change all right. Now that Republicans have control of both houses of Congress and the presidency, the “Party of NO!” must finally do something. But the current flap over abolishing Obamacare and the backpedaling by Trump and congressional Republicans reveals their sudden recognition that it’s easier to complain but harder to govern responsibly. President Trump’s inaugural address blasted all politicians, especially those who are all talk and do nothing. That takes direct aim at the Republican “Party of NO!” as much as anyone. But will he now go along with the typical ideology of “Big Business” and privatizing government that is central to the Republican Party agenda? Will the self-described billionaire businessman, his business hires in the cabinet, and the Republican Congress really forego feathering their own nests? Or, will this new president really help the common worker who put him in power? I hope so. Let me be clear, I want what will benefit the most people, and that’s the middle class and those less fortunate. Trump’s threat to put a border tax on American goods made in Mexico to promote jobs in the U.S. may look like a good start, but it could very likely cause Mexicans to increase trade elsewhere and withdraw from buying American goods. It remains to be seen just what will happen.
THE CENTRIST VIEW: Politics is the art of the possible that should be driven by the needs of the people and the welfare of the nation. The public is best served when parties (both individuals and political organizations) come together to face an issue by considering: What is the goal? What is our common ground? What can I do to help resolve this issue? Where can we work together to help the nation as a whole? What is the best solution to the problem at hand? Just saying “NO” doesn’t do this. Just privatizing everything doesn’t do this. Assuming government can fix everything doesn’t do this, either. But both Republicans and Democrats have too much allegiance to their “Big Business” and “Big Government” ideologies. And neither major party shows the political backbone to reform campaign finance laws so that elected officials are truly “public” servants instead of “private” servants to their donors.
A Centrist Party is not bound by either “Big Business” or “Big Government” ideologies. Nor is it beholden to big-money interests. Dedicated to finding the most effective solutions to the nation’s challenges, it can bring about real change. And, it can make clear to the American people which individuals and organizations attempt to block these efforts at progress. It’s time we break from the two-party system so this great country can have the government it needs and deserves.