Re-starting the Political Discussion

posted by U08 Web Team on October 11, 2006 - 2:57pm

In a recent opinion article in the Los Angeles Times, Tamar Jacoby, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and coauthor of "Reinventing the Melting Pot: The New Immigrants and What It Means To Be American" urges Americans on both sides of the political spectrum to re-engage in political discussion - with each other.

As a Republican, she writes in the article to a Democratic friend:

I don't know about you, but I'm deeply troubled by the polarization that seems increasingly to hamstring our politicians and prevent them from governing effectively. As you and I know, polarization is not the same as disagreement. As a Democrat and a Republican, we used to disagree all the time. Americans hold strong opinions and argue them vigorously, and this is all to the good; it's how we decide what we think and how to move ahead. But in recent years, healthy differences of opinion have been giving way to unhealthy polarization — unnecessary, overly emotional or unbridgeable disagreement that's deadlocking our politics and making it impossible to reach the kind of consensus we need to solve the problems before us.

I know you're angry, and there are people in both our parties who feel the bitterness is justified. But think about the issues we've been too divided to grapple with in recent years: how to provide the nation with a reliable source of energy, how to fix our broken healthcare system, how to put Social Security on a solid footing. What kind of country can we hope to leave our children if we can't come together to deal with problems like these?

We'd like to repeat, "polarization is not the same as disagreement". Disagreement is good. It's healthy. A democracy depends upon both its people and politicians questioning and debating the critical issues. Just take a look at the discussion in the Unity08 Shoutbox and you'll see that disagreement is alive and well - but it can be done civilly without blinding bias.

Jacoby proposes three basic changes to get the country back on track:

  • End the partisan legislative redistricting that makes it possible for elected officials to all but ignore centrist voters.
  • Reverse the galloping Balkanization of our cultural life. That fragmentation has gotten so bad that many of us rarely speak to anyone we disagree with or read anything that doesn't confirm our entrenched views.
  • Find a way to restore the fundamental trust that, in the best of times, has undergirded our politics.

Do you agree? What do you think is needed to get the country back on track?

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My feeling is that the polarization is exactly what the major parties want because it keeps them in power without addressing the larger problems.

Divide and conquor is their tactic.

The only way we are going to stop the Balkanization of the country is by stopping the flow of immigrants legal or illegal. I do not mean completely stop legal immigration but it needs to be cut way back, and illegal needs to be stopped period. We do not have the resources to be the melting pot of the world anymore, sorry that is just the way it is.
The second is for a movement like unity 08 to have a platform which puts as its number one priority Americans will not tolerate elected officials not working together for the common good. If the two parties see millions of voters supporty unity 08 or some other third party with that as their theme they will get the message. I also advocate a constituional amendment establishing the recall election for representatives and senators, I promise you that would get their attention. If the electorate does not get nasty with these do nothing obstructionists congressmen we are headed down a deep black hole.

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