Has anyone ever known the perfect candidate for any public office. I'm thinking back to almost a half century of involvement in the political process of this country at every level. There have been politicians that I have thought were close to perfection and others who, to me, were closer to the personification of evil. But as I think back along that long winding road, there is only one universal truth. Many have come close to political deification and just as many came close to political purgatory. But no matter what, there were things that I disagreed with for the candidates that I liked and things that I agreed with for the candidates that I thought were terrible.
That is what perplexes me in 2012. I think that Barack Obama has been and will be one of the finest presidents in this country's long history and I was equally convinced that with Mitt Romney, the country was in for a long downward trend. That's not to say that I look at President Obama as perfect and Mitt Romney as totally reprobate. Far from it. Mr. Obama has failed on a number of issues. He has been too slow in getting out of an untenable war in Afghanistan. The lack of focus is costing us precious lives. Even in the wake of Aurora, the president hasn't taken any stance on limiting gun access for anyone including those with mental illnesses. Mitt Romney, on the other hand was preaching a fiscal policy that was retrograde. He was however, a politician who had a history of compromise rather than confrontation which becomes a formula for effective governance.
Even in the Bush years, liberals could find areas of agreement. President Bush implemented "No Child Left Behind" the education reform act worked on with Ted Kennedy. It may not have been the best act in history, but was at least supportable by democrats. Likewise, President Bush favored immigration strategies that more closely resembled democratic strategies than those of his own party
But that gets us to 2012. If you were to look at the Republican universe's view of President Obama, the feeling that one might get is that there is no area of President Obama's policy packages that are even remotely supportable by the republican party and their loyal stalwarts. We have continuously heard the sobriquet that this is the most socialist president that this country has ever seen. We are told that he is a communist well versed in the dynamics of Saul Alinsky's Rules For Radicals. We hear conspiracy theory after conspiracy theory all pointing to the tyrannical, dictatorial despot that the president has become.
What we don't hear from any of the loyalist republicans are the areas of common ground that President Obama has, not only with the current Republican Party, but with the Republican presidential historical markers. I ask the reader to think about the following:
- Gun Control: President Obama's position on gun control has been exactly the same as the position of President Bush and the NRA. That is discussion of gun control has and will be effectively off the table.
- Race To The Top: This is President Obama's natural evolution of the authorization of No Child Left Behind. With a site based management structure and a call for local innovation, you might think that republicans would love this policy.
- Afghanistan Policy: The Bush Policy on steroids. Need I say more?
- Health Care Reform: The Affordable Care Act is a basic rewrite of the Lott/Dole Bill in 1994 and is patterned after RomneyCare in Massachusetts. Since these were all republican sponsored health approaches, there should have been at least some republican support for the reform movement.
- Immigration Reform: The President's view is not much different from the views of President Bush, Senator McCain, and Governor Perry. None of these individuals could be considered liberals, yet, when the president supports the same type of reform, it is now considered radical among the republican faithful.
The point is one of hypocrisy. We appear to have moved from a "where can we find common ground?" approach to a "what ever your position is, my position is going to be 180 degrees opposite, because you belong to the other party." approach. This makes governance an impossible task. It used to be that the goal of government was to find common ground and legislate along that band of common ground. Now we have moved into a dystopian present where the goal of government is to insure chaos.
Unfortunately, nations are doomed to their own extinction through political, intellectual, and tribal conflicts when we adopt this contrarianistic philosophy. We become directionless, morally, spiritually, and politically. We have to find a way to talk to one another and discover how our differing perceptions are leading to the same goals. Our legislators have to do the same things and exist in a cooperative rather than a combative atmosphere.