Election season is in full swing and we’ve already endured nearly a month of back and forth controversies and accusations that one side or the other has engaged in cheap tricks. President Obama politicized the death of the world’s most notorious terrorist (at least until Kony came along), and Mitt Romney politicized Obama eating a dog as a child after the Democrats politicized him putting his dog on his car.
With games like this coming from both candidates, it’s no wonder people lament that partisanship. It is false to claim that both sides are responsible for the hyper-partisanship in Washington and across the country. The Republican Party is the party of no, and it should own it. From GOP leaders expressing how important defeating President Obama in 2012 is to their agenda, to their pundits declaring that they want him to fail, it is clear that compromise is not the first thing on their minds. When one side is dead set against helping to solve any of the various problems facing this country, I feel it is only fair to point it out. The media has been accused of having a liberal bias for so long, it pretends that any crazy thing that comes out of a Republican’s mouth is a valid counter point to whatever it is a democrat says. Sometimes there aren’t two equally valid sides to an issue, but you’ll never hear anyone on the nightly news acknowledge that.
Republicans are right to tell you that Washington is broken and that it’s not serving the citizens properly. They would know; they’re the ones who broke it. What the Democrats are experiencing is guilt by association. When Congress gets stuck in gridlock and people see endless debate and watered down, useless legislation, or more often than that, no legislation at all, politicians of all stripes take the blame. But it is not the Democratic Party that has abused the filibuster a record number of times in the last two sessions of Congress, and it is not the Democratic Party who caused our credit rating to be downgraded and brought the country on the brink of default.
And then there are the various state legislatures and governorships controlled by Republicans, not Democrats, that stripped unions of their ability to collectively bargain with companies; eliminated the local government of cities in favor of lone emergency managers with the power to make unilateral decisions; restricted the ability of schools to teach sex education; and cut the jobs of thousands of teachers, policeman, and firefighters. And it is certainly not the Democratic Party that approved measures that restricted access to abortions and eliminated healthcare for women. Whether or not you believe it is accurate to refer to such actions as a war on women is irrelevant, because the Republicans decided to mess with women in the first place, and they are rightfully held accountable.
And while we’re on the subject of war, it is the Republican Party that ran a presidential candidate in 2004 with the clear, impossible-to-misunderstand message that voting for the other guy would be tantamount to suicide. Bin Laden and terrorism was already politicized long before President Obama released an ad that questioned his opponent’s resolve. It seems that nothing is off limits anymore, because the GOP has already broken every taboo that exists. Politics does not stop at the water’s edge as it once did, and even a joint session of Congress is no longer sacred, since it is now okay to heckle the president and call him a liar in a nationally televised speech. They have flirted with conspiracy theorists who claim the duly elected president is a foreign usurper who was never born in this country, and they have charged that he is the most corrupt president in history over flimsy or overblown scandals, ignoring their own history for corruption which should offend the conscience of every American far more than whatever they now deem to be outrageous.
If there’s a reason Americans hate politics or government more than they ever have, I have to conclude it is because of the Republican Party. If this is what it means to be a politician or serve in government, than I have to admit I want nothing to do with it either. But it is so obviously one-sided, which makes the fact that this will likely be a close election so astounding. Perhaps if we had more political parties, people who disagree on principle with the Democrats could place their trust in someone other than Republicans, rather than settle for these sad excuses for statesmen.
In the meantime, President Obama and the Democrats will be forced to hop on the partisan bandwagon. When someone spends every day slinging mud and making things up, you’re going to have to get a little dirty just to have a fighting chance. If the rules of the game are being re-written, you’d be a fool not to play by them.
Kerry Wakely is a fourth-year political science major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.