One of the most overused and exploited excuses for congressional failure is “polarization” in Congress. Nowadays, whenever the Democratic Party doesn’t get its way, the Republicans are always to blame for being hyper-partisan and unwilling to negotiate. Whenever a liberal lawmaker can’t get the job done, he failed because of congressional gridlock. If a Democrat retires, or loses a congressional primary or general election, it isn’t because the American people issued a referendum on him; it’s due to today’s “harsh reality of polarization.”
The point here is that Democrats never hold themselves accountable. It is always the opposite party or the American people who are to blame. When longtime Democratic Representative Gary Ackerman of New York retired, he gave the following excuse: “It used to be you had real friends on the other side of the aisle. It’s not like that anymore. Society has changed. The public is to blame as well. I think the people have gotten dumber.” Just because the public elected a Republican House of Representatives to protest the failures of the Democratic Super Majority of 2009-2011, he thinks the people have gotten dumber. In today’s elite liberal society, if you don’t agree with liberal policies, than you are either dumb or hyper partisan.
In the current debate to extend tax cuts, we see the polarization smokescreen being sustained by Congressional Democrats. Democratic Senator Patty Murray warned Monday that her caucus is willing to let all the Bush-era tax rates expire at the end of the year if the Republicans don’t compromise. Many economists warn that an expiration of the set tax rates would let the country fall off a “fiscal cliff.” Who is playing partisan politics here? During last summer’s debt ceiling debate, the main stream media told us that the Tea Party Republicans “hijacked” the American people into getting a debt ceiling deal that worked in their favor. Many Tea Party Republicans actually voted against that deal, but I digress. Now the Democratic Senate Majority can allow all the existing tax rates to expire, giving the American people and businesses mountains of uncertainty that will subsequently ruin the economy? But still, it is the Republicans who are being partisan. To quote Senator Murray, Congressional Republicans are “boxed in and unable to compromise.”
The Democrats have hijacked “polarization” as they use it to their advantage. I am tired of hearing how noble and impartial the Democrats are, as they paint the Republicans as unrelenting and super-partisan. Were the Democrats so non-partisan when they held majorities in both the House and Senate, and rammed through Obamacare via reconciliation? How about when they completely ignored the GOP Healthcare Reform Plan and urged us to trust them and pass their healthcare bill? To quote Nancy Pelosi, we needed to hurry up and pass it so we could “find out what’s in it.” The double standard of polarization and gridlock is perpetuated by left of center politicians and the media. The excuse of polarization is just a smokescreen for failure to get liberal legislation passed, and blaming it on defiant Republicans is just an easy way out.
Colin Snell | Burlington College | @SnellColin