Former Florida Gov. and announced non-candidate for vice president Jeb Bush hit the nail on the head about national politics these days.
Bush observed that in the harsh climate that prevails these fractured political days, his father, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan would have had difficult times getting into the White House.
"My father and President Reagan were successful because they were willing to put policy solutions above political wins. They recognized the president has a significant influence and ability to drive the agenda and used that to find common ground," Bush wrote Tuesday in an email to The Associated Press. "Washington today is hyper-partisan with people speaking off political talking points rather than working together to find common ground to address the issues our country faces."
Today, there are factions — loud factions — among both liberals and conservatives that shout down anyone who doesn't toe the line completely. It's gotten so bad, that we are starting to wonder whether the economic recovery is most likely to be led with a resurgence in the tar and feather industries.
But while Bush's observations were taken by some — not surprisingly, by the way — as a slam at the Republican Party, the fact is they are equally valid in the Democratic Party, where the far-left wing — just like the far-right wing of the GOP — believes in freedom of speech has been redefined to mean that you are only free to speak in agreement with their position.
As a result, the parties — especially on a national level — have become caricatures of themselves, little more than parodies of what they purport to be.
Those who follow this line of "us vs. them" dogma restrict themselves to sources of information that filter the news in a way that conforms with their preconceived notions, all the while being told that this liberal commentator or that conservative observer is "telling it like it is" when, in reality, neither is providing an unbiased, clear view. The result is that rather than aspiring toward an ideal, the follower is led to be fearful to think any other way, lest anarchy surely reign and the Republic fall.
We're not naive to think that this sort of hardball politics hasn't gone on in some form or fashion since the nation's birth, but the rancor and hate is spewing with reckless abandon these days as its perpetrators consolidate money and power. And too many people settle for empty junk-food meals when it comes to exploring the political issues of the day. Rather than dining on a steak rich in flavor, complexity and texture, there is a preference for a quick plate of simple, watery, tasteless hash that one can swallow without the effort of mental chewing.
The fact is there are good ideas that come from both conservatives and liberals, and both certainly have come up with their share of bad ideas. Ideally, political debate and scrutiny would determine which ideas were worthy.
Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world. Common ground — the foundation on which this nation was founded — has become the scarcest of real estate and those aspire to statesmanship and dare to step onto its shrinking acreage do so that their own political peril.
— The Albany Herald Editorial Board