Saturday, June 5, 2010

How About Some Common Sense Middle Ground?

It's a calm before a storm in politics, with Congress out of session this week and a momentary lull in campaign activity as people have been more concerned with the Memorial Day holiday than with the pending elections. Given that lull, I thought it might be a good time to look at some of the big political issues of the day and the potential for common ground, if both sides would just concede some things that are pretty obviously true. I'm going to do this by proposing a few deals.

On the Courts:
How about liberals concede that judges substituting their judgement for the voters is a very dangerous thing to do if Republicans concede that Bush vs. Gore was probably the most activist decision of all time?

On the Deficit:
How about liberals concede that we are going to need spending cuts and entitlement reform if conservatives concede that we will also need to raise taxes?

How about liberals concede that the stimulus and the jobs bills are adding greatly to the deficit if conservatives concede that defense spending is contributing even more?

On Health Care:
How about conservatives concede that the bill enacted won't ruin our free market health care system if liberals concede that it doesn't solve the fundamental issue of cost?

How about conservatives concede that Medicare is an example of a government-run health care system that largely works if liberals concede that having a private health care industry leads to more innovation?

On the Environment:
How about conservatives concede that environmental reform is a good idea if for no other reason than to get us off foreign oil if liberals concede that there are some legitimate scientists that question the science behind global warming?

How about conservatives concede that Cap and Trade systems are a market solution that worked wonderfully for sulfur emissions in the 1990s if liberals concede that building nuclear power plants, as France has done, is the only viable way to significantly reduce carbon in the near term?

On Financial Reform:
How about conservatives concede that the free market didn't work in managing systemic risk if liberals concede that irresponsible borrowers were as responsible for the financial crisis as irresponsible lenders?

How about liberals stop pretending that corporations are the "enemy" if conservatives concede that their interests are not necessarily in the nation's interest?

On the Filibuster:
How about conservatives concede that 60 votes in the Senate being a requirement on every bill is bad for democracy if liberals concede that they started a lot of the problem in the 2000s?

On Immigration:
How about liberals concede that there is a massive problem with illegal immigration that drives down the wages and employment of our most vulnerable if conservatives concede that it can't be solved without addressing employers and it can't be solved simply by rounding up those presently here illegally?

On Iraq:
How about conservatives concede our reasons for going in were wrong if liberals concede that pulling out in 2007 would have been worse than not going in?

On Race:
How about whites concede that there are still big gaps in employment equality (just look at CEOs of the Fortune 500) if blacks concede that a large portion of income disparity is due to poor educational attainment?

How about conservatives concede that there is a lot of racist fury in their party right now if liberals concede that Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are just as racist as whites on the right?

Most of all....can't we talk about these issues rationally rather than having emotional partisanship in every discussion? President Barack Obama is not an evil Muslim terrorist or a communist, but Mitch Mcconnell isn't a nazi or a racist either. Can't we disagree on intellectual conclusions without thinking of the other side as bad people?

I know we are entering an election season, so I don't expect the tone to improve in Washington. But how about we, as voters, withhold our vote to those who personally demonize their opponents? How about if we demand that they work together for solutions that actually do things for the people? Anybody remember the Americans with Disability Act? The Clean Air Act of 1991? The Civil Rights Act of 1991? The deficit reduction bill of 1991? All bills passed through a Democratic Congress and signed by a Republican President. Where is the cooperation for the greater good?

President Obama should set the tone. How about some common ground on education reform, where he largely agrees with the GOP? How about giving some ground on Cap and Trade to get moderates like Lindsey Graham on board? How about some leadership?

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