Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Is the Political Landscape in Washington a New and Better Place or Business as Usual?

The political divisiveness in Washington DC has been an ever present topic in our newspapers and news channels since the election of President Obama in 2008. With Democrats in control of both the Legislative and Executive branches, there was little the Republican Party could do to advance its agenda, but to voice opposition to any Democrat legislation and hit the campaign trails. Democrats got their way for two years, pushing through bailouts, the health care bill, and refusing to work with House and Senate Republicans on the 2010 budget. Then the elections of 2010 came around and Republicans recaptured control of the U.S. House with the largest majority that they had seen since the 1940’s. President Obama and new House Majority Leader Boehner exhibited a glorious show of pomp and ceremony over their willingness to “work together for the American people”. Many Americans held a semblance of hope that, for once, Congress and the President would forsake the political wrangling and come to a consensus on what was best for the nation instead of their respective political parties. The show of civility was short-lived and by the time President Obama gave his State of the Union Address, politicians from both parties had taken to the trenches once again.
At the forefront of the epic legislation battles, is the present debt crisis and how much to cut the federal budget. The Democrats want to keep all the entitlement programs that keep the base of their electorate happy, while the most outspoken Republicans want cuts across the board on all programs. Meanwhile, President Obama has decided to send American military forces into Libya to aid NATO nations that are attempting to deescalate the oppression of civilians by Col. Muammar Gaddafi. In the midst of all this chaos, the possible Republican presidential contenders are launching their campaigns for 2012, and just this week, President Obama announced his re-election campaign. Suddenly the emphasis has been shifted from righting the nation’s wrongs, to vilifying the opposing party. Many Republicans are not conservative in their withering criticism of President Obama’s military interventionism in Libya. If a correlation can be made between Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Odyssey Dawn, it seems like the Democrat and Republican parties have traded foreign policy doctrines. This hypocrisy can be the most glaring give-away that politics in Washington DC is indeed, back to business as usual. Similarly, the budget cutters are all for abolishing those programs that do not benefit their districts. Senator Coburn (R-OK) wants Defense cuts while Senators Boxer (D-CA) and DeMint (R-SC) want to cut Ethanol subsidies. Any form of federal spending will “bankrupt the country” unless it pays out to that particular Senator’s state or Congressman/woman’s district. Once again, politicians have not failed to show the American people that their legislative priorites will be based on how such decisions influence their re-election chances.
The majority of Americans are Americans first, and party affiliated second. Instead of focusing on the “big picture” politicians are again entrapped with yielding to the special interests that shout the loudest and line the most pockets. The most vocal voices on both the left and right sides of the political spectrum are clamoring for the advancements of their own particular vendetta and forsaking what might be in the best interests of the nation. The politician that can sift through such na├»ve approaches to policy making is a rare one indeed. These politicians are presently in the minority in Washington DC or are drowned out by those who toe the party line. When times are tough, tough men and women take action. We can only hope that those men and women will wake up one day and re-establish this country’s faith in its elected leaders.

Brandon West
Vice-Chairman Kansas Federation of College Republicans

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