There's an interesting, long excerpt on Salon from a new book by former Rep. Tom Allen (D-ME), Dangerous Convictions: What's Really Wrong with the U.S. Congress. The sub-heading is, "You try serving with these Republicans: I spent 12 years in Congress and lost hope that we could talk to each other."
To be clear, he doesn't lay all the blame at the feet of Republicans. The piece ends, "In short, partisan conservative media and its less influential imitators on the left are inviting their audiences to see the political world in black-and-white, conservative and liberal, good and bad, with the result that for the public and elected officials, it is harder to find common ground."
But, he does place much of the blame on the G.O.P, which he believes has gotten more focused and unbending attitude, and explains why with a discussion of history. In fact, Mr. Allen shows admiration for both sides of the aisle in how things used to work historically --
Dwight Eisenhower accepted the major legislation of the New Deal. John Kennedy started the legislative push for a substantial tax cut. Lyndon Johnson came from a Senate known for working across the aisle. Richard Nixon signed clean water and clean air legislation. Ronald Reagan raised taxes many times to deal with mounting deficits created by his 1981 tax cut; George H. W. Bush did the same, to resounding criticism from the Right. Bill Clinton antagonized elements of his Democratic base by supporting a balanced federal budget, free trade and welfare reform.
Ultimately, it's that divide that Tom Allen is writing about. "Again, it’s not the difference of opinions across party lines that matters but the inability to understand and value what the other side is saying. The ideological gridlock that plagues our government and politics now has multiple sources and is beyond the scope of this book.
The full article is over on Salon.com
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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