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A Fear Of Breaking “The Pledge”: Are Republicans And The Tea Party Serious?

This is not the Congress where I worked in the ’70s and  ’80s.  This is not the same caliber of  leader, especially on the Republican side, that our country has been accustomed  to over decades. In the past, people like Eric Cantor and Michele Bachmann were  marginalized. They were not respected by their own party, let alone rewarded;  they were relegated to the back bench.

It would have been a joke if someone predicted that a cable  queen like Bachmann could raise $14 million for a House race or that South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson could raise over $2 million in a matter of weeks as an  obscure member, after screaming at the president, “You lie!” at a State of the  Union address. The notion that someone such as Bachmann would be so popular in  polls and be in a position to win Iowa would have been unthinkable a few short  years ago.

But more important than these personalities and their extreme  positions is what they have done to the Republican party.

We have a unique opportunity to truly turn this nation  around.  President Obama, and it appears Speaker of the House John Boehner, were ready to truly change the direction of the country.  In the past, I believe we could have made it  work—with a Reagan, an O’Neill, a Mansfield, a Baker, a Dirksen.  It is a long list.

But, sadly, the absolutism of no revenues—every tax cut,  even temporary—is now permanent.  Taxes  can only go down… sort of like housing prices can only go up! Pledges to  Grover Norquist are absurd, shortsighted, and counterproductive.

I truly wonder whether the extreme wing of the Republican  Party wants to solve our problem or just play politics with it; is this just  beat Obama and the democrats at all costs, the country be damned? Or is it an  adherence to an ideology that is inflexible, a fear of breaking some “pledge?”

Regardless, the over $4 trillion budget fix is achievable—not popular—but achievable. It takes both parties to accept political  responsibility.  I wonder, though, if you  asked a Tea Party member or a liberal democrat, “Would you sacrifice your seat  in Congress to achieve real fiscal responsibility, to turn the nation around?”  would they say “yes?”  After all, why did  they run for office in the first place? To be serious, to accomplish big  things, I would hope.

A number of years ago a group of us were with Sen. Paul  Sarbanes.  He was retiring after a  long and distinguished career in the House and Senate. One person asked him  what was the biggest change he had seen in his 40 years.  Sarbanes said that people come into  office now with their minds made up; they are afraid to change or to listen to  the other side.  He pointed out that when  he first came to the Senate, there used to be real debate on the issues of our  time and that minds would be changed.   There was a different spirit of cooperation and compromise and true  listening. Relationships across the aisle were forged. There was give and take. There was an opportunity to come to an agreement without a total win-lose  mentality.

If there ever was a time in our nation’s history to return to  that spirit, it is now.

By: Peter Fenn, U. S. News and World Report, July 13, 2011

July 14, 2011 - Posted by | Congress, Conservatives, Debt Ceiling, Deficits, Democracy, Democrats, Economic Recovery, Economy, Elections, GOP, Government, Government Shut Down, Ideologues, Ideology, Politics, President Obama, Republicans, Right Wing, Tax Increases, Taxes, Tea Party, Voters, Wealthy | , , , , , , , , ,

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