PIQUERO: Republicans are morphing into enemies they once derided
Opinions Column: The Principled Millennial
Throughout the year I have often used my column to voice my discontent with various aspects of the American political scene. Last year was a year of change and 2017 is shaping up to exhibit the tangible results of those changes. At this point, it is impractical to assert which direction our country is going in as a result of these changes. However, if someone turns on the news or talks to a politically-obsessed friend or colleague with strong inclinations, they may believe the world is burning. Although there have been many things that have confounded me about the election and the current administration, I do not buy into the partisan hysteria that is projected by the media onto the populace. From my perspective, partisan hysteria — a tactic used by both parties and channeled through the media — is merely a symptom of polarization, which I have written about extensively. Recent history shows the disruptive tactics used by Republicans to block worthwhile efforts by the previous administration, and today we see those same tactics being employed by Democrats against the current administration. Hypocrisy cuts both ways in politics.
As I have tried to show in the past, this toxic atmosphere merely promotes division, discourages unity and makes compromise impossible and politically damaging. Caught in the crossfire of this virulent backdrop is the average American who feels no particular ideological attachment to either side. To those individuals, the Republican and Democratic impasse is morally, ethically and rationally reprehensible. Public confidence in governmental institutions is at an all-time low because both sides have simply failed to converge and agree on virtually any major issues. In short, both major parties have abandoned the center and given voice to their most ideologically entrenched members and never looked back. A large portion of President Donald J. Trump’s support came from disaffected voters who view him as the only plausible alternative to government-as-usual. To them, Trump represents a political grenade that will intentionally alter the political system in a way that benefits them, not special interests.
This article is not intended to assess the opening crescendo of Trump’s presidency. In my personal opinion, there have been some encouraging aspects about his administration, as well as a handful of discouraging ones. Instead, I am attempting to show what is clear to me and many informed Americans, that both sides of the political aisle are engaging in partisan hysteria to fuel anger in their respective camps. This counterintuitive strategy actually enhances the powers of the party while simultaneously limiting the power of the average citizen. It is a great ruse that must be called out at every turn.
The Democrats have embraced the unofficial mantra of “the resistance” which they hope will symbolize their outright contempt for the president and his agenda. This is sure to include constant personal and political attacks and bitter opposition to the governing party’s initiatives. The Republicans, on the other hand, have proven they are on equal footing by rushing the Affordable Care Act replacement bill, renamed the American Health Care Act, through GOP-dominated congressional committees in hopes that it will pass Congress before the public truly understands its contents. In its current form, the bill will not garner a single Democratic vote and potentially numerous Republican votes. This is the same type of political trickery used by the Democrats in 2010 to pass Obamacare. The cycle continues, and as political partisans in Washington, D.C. have fun playing around with the nation's well-being, it is the American worker that suffers.
Moderating influences have simply vanished altogether in Washington, as members of both political sides feel vulnerable if they stray too close to the center. The optimist in me wants to believe that many members are more centrist than their proclamations would suggest, however the pessimist in me often uses history as a guiding factor. Actions speak louder than words, and many of Congress’s recent actions fall well short of many of my most optimistic beliefs. I am ashamed as a conservative to see my party fail so miserably on health care reform, promoting a bill that has garnered widespread public and intra-party criticism, without even consulting either the Democrats or the Senate. House Republicans need to look in the mirror and see that they are morphing into the enemy they once derided. I am equally ashamed at the Democrats for posturing themselves as the “resistance” party, brazenly antithetical to 46 percent of the voting public’s will.
I can envision a utopia (if you can even call it that) where both sides join together to fix the failures of the Affordable Care Act and create a bill that both liberals and conservatives can agree on without falling into the temptation to appease the most vocal elements of their parties. Maybe this reality is not too far off.
We’ll have to keep waiting.
Michael Piquero is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in political science and history. His column, “The Principled Millennial,” runs on alternate Fridays.
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