Thursday, December 12, 2013

Senators Ryan and Murray Show Some Courage

For all our mantras about gridlock, unprecedented partisanship, and 'divided government,' what Senator Ryan (R) and Senator Murray (D) have done is truly praiseworthy and encouraging.

Above all, beyond who gets what or if their long-term deficit reduction is meaningful, here's what's significant about what they did:

  • Both parties are increasingly held hostage or influenced by their extreme wings.  Yet a senator from the relatively fiscally conservative state of Wisconsin can open a dialogue with a colleague from the relatively liberal state of Washington, outside of the aegis or approval of their party leaders.  They were able to talk, recognize their constraints, and come up with a proposal that hewed to their own ideas while not rejecting outright the platforms of their party leaders. 
  • They shared the stage, although I wish that Senator Murray had really added more of her own voice from the podium.
  • Their actions proved that gridlock and all the other epithets describing our woes are cover for the extreme views of a very small entrenched leadership of both parties.  If they are able to quash the efforts of their own colleagues, American voters may eventually wake up to where the problem lies.
The real problem is the unthinking American electorate.  Everyone gets their data from television news, NPR or Fox on the far wings.  Very, very few read original documents or think for themselves.  We don't have enough time or energy, and basically we don't want to be introduced to anything that might contradict our deeply held views. Our current political elite on both sides of the aisle understands this and panders to it: how else could they have survived so many election cycles?  

Total domination of the opposition--uncompromising and unforgiving victory for their self-interest-- is what the electorate wants. Compromise is for wimps and losers. Well, what Senators Murray and Ryan have done is to show, even in a small way, that another path is possible.  Here's hoping something develops from this, and that more such alliances are forged. 

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