So you know that you’re getting old when your high-school calls and asks if you’d be a speaker for their political section at Career Day. Well, that’s what I’m doing tomorrow. So in preparation, I started thinking about the role of partisanship in today’s political climate.
Today, so many people talk about life in a post-partisan world, like it’s some kind destination beyond the “final frontier” – like American political community will “ascend” to a “higher” or more “civilized” discourse. A time and place where political parties will not drive the priorities that dictate the actions of our lawmakers. A quasi-nirvana state where elected officials will be free to make the “right” decisions to save America.
And being a student of history, my response? I think not.
This nation, like the rest of western civilization really, is constantly engaged in a struggle over two different philosophical ideas – whether or not “power” should be vested in the individual or the collective. Some policy issues function better on one side, and others with the opposite.
So what is the difference between a partisan change versus a “post-partisan” change? Well…the only time you would use the term “post-partisan” is when a lot of people don’t participate in the Party system, ie: voters.
Today, Fox & Hounds commentator Pete Peterson pens an article discussing low civic engagement in California (which is symptomatic of the rest of America). One of his conclusions that I strongly agree with is that so many Americans have just abdicated their responsibility as participatory citizens in the process and see themselves more as “customers” and thus just “deal with” the system instead of working to “change” the system.
It would certainly explain a host of issues with the political structure and disenfranchisement from the two main parties which unfortunately results in nothing but political ideologues running the show. And the worst part is that when someone leaves the Party in disgust instead of trying to change it from within, it only makes the extremists stronger – making the problem even worse. A little bird told me that just last week Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger here in California is planning on launching a special election to reintroduce open primaries in California. While I don’t believe in the constitutionality of open primaries, I am acutely aware of the partisan gridlock that has prompted such a move.
Individuals who act in partisan best interests before America’s best interests have already pushed political parties to the point of obstructionism – and if this measure passes in California – will eliminate their breed for the time to come.
Happy Wednesday, all.