I would think that many of our founding fathers would be turning in their graves in disgust as they view the American political process in 2012. To watch the intransigence of our so-called political leadership in puttiong out their hands in a gesture of friendship and non-partisanship must be a certain sign to those great leaders of the 18th century that the United States has finished it's climb to the summit of nations and is now a snowball gathering momentum rolling down from that summit toward it's inevitable collapse.
I am not saying that our founders didn't have tremendous differences in the establishment of the country. Few realize that our bicameral legislative system was, in itself, a compromise between leaders of different states. The debate between small and large states over how the country was to be governed was one of the most raucous issues during the Constitutional Convention of 1787. The smaller states were concerned that they were going to be ignored in legislation. The issue may have torn the nascent country apart if, in their wisdom, and their ability to compromise, they didn't accept the compromise offered by Benjamin Franklin. We would have two houses in the legislature. There would be a Senate where states, large or small, would be represented equally. The second house, which would come to be known as the people's house would have their representation determined by population of a region. Large states with more representatives, small states with less. A compromise was reached that allowed
You only have to go back eleven years to the development of the Declaration of Independence to fully understand the compromises that our founders had to agree with to get to the point where the new nation could stand together. Whether it was discussion of severance or temporary separation from the English Crown, or whether the nation would remain a part of the British Empire, the delegates were split and had to work through their differences. Whether the states allowed slavery or didn't allow slavery, whether slaves who escaped their bondage could be freed in the north was an area that was such a difficult compromise that eventually it would become a precipitating factor in the Civil War. Our founders had to truly understand the value of compromise in the establishment of this country.
Then we fast forward 225 years and we look at the way our legislative bodies are functioning. There is no hint of compromise in the minds of many of our legislators. They are taking a my way or the highway approach. The belief that the American political system is grounded in two political parties coming together to get some of what they hope for and not get other parts of their agenda has been replaced with politicians in the republican party making statements like, "I'm all for compromise, as long as the democrats do what we want them to do." The art of governance has always been the art of compromise. We've replaced governance with planned gridlock.
How pathetic was the statement by Mitch McConnell, the republican leader of the senate, when he said that the number one goal of his party was to insure that Barack Obama was a one-term president. That is not an attitude that is going to effect compromise. The use of the threat of a filibuster on every piece of significant legislation, thus moving the threshhold for passage to 60 votes, has turned governance into a circus. Watching John Boehner negotiate with the democrats in congress and the president of the United States and then bringing a deal to his caucus, only to have to return to the original negotiation, with tail firmly held between his legs, reneging on the agreement.
We can argue back and forth about whether we like republican politics or democratic politics. We can love Obama or hate him, admire Romney or distrust him, but, as Americans, we should all be lamenting the lack of political compromise that is taking place inside the beltway and around the statehouses of this nation. We elect people to represent us. That representation is supposed to lead to governance. It isn''t supposed to lead to gridlock. That disenfranchises every one of us. Our vote means nothing if we put robots into office who will not do the business of all the people. It's time we let them know that we are going to throw the off switch and elect thinking human beings to represent us. It's the least we can expect.