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Kevin Buck: The eye of the beholder

Posted: July 29, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 30, 2014 2:00 a.m.

I am old enough to remember a time when political arguments revolved around policy differences, and the solutions to the major issues of the day were often hammered out in smoke-filled back rooms.

Our civics textbooks called it “log rolling.” Compromise was a tool available to, and often used by, politicians in the past, and our nation grew and prospered because of their willingness to put country first.

The Constitution is a tribute to the ability of the Founding Fathers, some of whom were bitter rivals, to compromise for the greater good of the nation.

The West was won, railroads and great cities were built, and the nation survived a civil war and a Great Depression; we won two world wars, created the interstate highway system, built a social safety net for the poor, sick and disabled — all because we worked together.

Americans walked on the moon, explored the planets and lived in space.

All of this was accomplished by ordinary and extraordinary American citizens alike, working with their elected representatives at all levels.

It was a government of, for and by the people.

Those days are now seemingly relegated to the history books; an accusation of compromise has now become a weapon to use against your political rivals, a cudgel in the zero sum game of modern politics.

The consequences are dire: the federal government is paralyzed, unable to accomplish its most basic functions, lest one side gain the advantage by actually doing something for the American people.

It should not come as a surprise that a majority blame the Congress of the United States for this malaise and further believe it is the Republican Party that is chiefly responsible for the stagnation in governing.

Rightly so, because they are.

Senate Republicans use the filibuster to deny Obama and the Democrats any victory, and House Republicans just do nothing.

Policy differences are understandable, and holding up legislation they do not agree with is the minority’s prerogative under the current rules of the House and Senate.

Holding up nominees to a federal bench that is currently facing a shortage of judges is also understandable, as these are lifetime appointments and will shape the ideology judicial branch of the government for a long time.

And when judges appointed by Democrats make decisions that affect laws, they are activist judges, legislating from the bench.

When judges appointed by Republicans make corporations people, give them some of that old time religion or elect a president by a 5-4 vote (thought I forgot about that, didn’t you?), they are a Supreme Court conservative majority and just strictly interpreting the Constitution.

Funny how that works.

But in the long run it will make little or no difference because Republicans will not win the White House again for the foreseeable future — and if they do not replace their aging and dying base with some youth, women and people of color, much longer than that.

But that is just politics, subject to the pendulum swings of the American voters.

However, there are currently 31 nominees for ambassadorships being held hostage to Republican irrational Obama petulance, and that is a matter of national security.

Politics used to end at the water’s edge, but no longer; political points are now be scored at the expense of our standing in the world, even if it harms all Americans.

One needs only to look at the reactions to the flood of Central American refugees showing up at our border, frightened women and children seeking freedom, safety and the promise of a better life — just like the waves of immigrants before them.

Anger, hate and retribution for imagined ills on one side.
Compassion, charity, and the due process guaranteed by our laws on the other.

I wonder what Jesus would do. I’m thinking that screaming at mothers and their children is not one of the options.

I also wonder if he would vote Republican.

The solution to Republican intransigence in Congress is easy: Vote them out.

The mantra from now until November is that if Democrats vote, we win. So, Democrats out there, plan on voting and get a friend to the polls, as well.

There is still a lot of power left in the ballot box, if we can just harness it.

Kevin Buck is a Santa Clarita resident. “Democratic Voices” runs Tuesdays in The Signal and rotates among several SCV Democrats.



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