Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Goodbye, Karl

While there was much to comment on in tonight's State of the Union address, one observation from several commentators was the partisanship displayed on the floor of the House.

If the President truly wants to make the last three years of his term successful, I have a suggestion. Boot Karl Rove out of the White House. Send him to the RNC if you like, but get him out of the White House.

The partisan rancor starts with our democracy. Whichever candidate gets the most votes wins. The winner then has no reason to care about the concerns of people who didn't vote for him or her. If a candidate wins by one vote, she has all the marbles and the losers have none. As long as she can keep the majority that voted for her happy she doesn't need to care about the people who didn't vote for her.

The rancor is increased by having only two major parties and the use of party solidarity to pass legislation. If you want to be elected to the House, Senate or Presidency you must be a member of one of the two major parties. They have the power and, more importantly, the money. The parties believe that any success by the opposition is unacceptable. The opposition must always be derided as incompetent, out of touch and without ideals or ideas since any success for them is a loss for us. Even more importantly, they need the outrage and angst created by a good (bad?) opponent to mobilize their supporters and bring in the money. Therefore, the best way to govern is to not cooperate, because cooperation implies your opponent does have something to offer. Republicans have no incentive to seek or accept any cooperation from Democrats. Cooperation with a Democrat gives them standing which weakens Republicans and vice versa. The best strategy is to pass legislation by demanding party unity and preventing Democrats from taking any actions for which they can claim success.

The Democrats have been frozen out of the legislative process for several years. The Republicans call them poor sports, but won't even let them on the field. The Democrats are left to stand on the sidelines and try to disrupt the Republican playbook through whatever means they can find. Like filibusters. Republicans love this since they can then use these very actions to prove Democrats have no ideas other than opposition. It is the publicly expressed hope of several key Republican strategists to keep Democrats from returning to power for decades. How do they do that? By continually showing that Democrats have no ideas and have nothing to offer the country. Certainly not a strategy to win friends across the aisle. And who leads that campaign? Karl Rove.

Who are the second and third most powerful people in the White House? Karl Rove and Vice-President Cheney. You can pick their relative positions. We know what the Vice-President does (sort of), but what is Karl Rove's job in the White House? No matter what title he has, he is the take no prisoners political strategist. He makes sure that the President wins politically, which also means helping Republicans win politically. A rejuvenated Karl Rove recently resurfaced to map out strategy for the 2006 mid-term elections. His strategy, the tried and true, make the Democrats look soft on defense and terrorism. This is the second or third most important person in the White House trying to once again bury the Democrats. The President is not running in 2006, so why is Karl Rove still working to trivialize Democrats?

The President has had the majority in both houses for at least four years and still complains about how the Democrats won't cooperate. With the second or third most important person in this administration working every day to politically screw them, why would any Democrat want to play nice?

It is not up to the party out of power to make concessions. They have little to give and the party in power has a disincentive to accept any help. At this point if Republicans want to tone down the partisanship, they will need to take the lead and probably make the most concessions.

President Bush is not running again and I suggest that if he truly wants to be treated kindly by history he should become the President of all Americans and not just the leader of the Republican Party. What is more important to the President, electing Republicans or doing the country's business? Instead of using the White House to elect and re-elect Republicans as a way to pass his legislative proposals, why not work with legislators to create legislation that a majority of Representatives and Senators from both parties can support? He might not get exactly what he or his base wants, but he would quiet the partisan rancor and end up with programs and laws that a majority of legislators thought were good for the country. Not just programs and laws that party leaders steamrolled party members to pass.

Mr. President, send Karl Rove packing! Let the RNC fight the political battles and you work for all of us.

Technorati Tags:

No comments: