Sunday, May 11, 2008

Divided We Stand

In some quarters to accuse someone of being "divisive" is meant to be a searing criticism of an individual's lack of willingness to "solve" problems by cooperation. The peaknuckle of princely forebearance and benign comity currently is alleged to be Mr. Obama who is expressly running a campaign whose conerstone supposedly is the candidate's desire and ability to "bring us together" and end the toxic political diviseness devouring the country.

It cannot be overstated how vast a load of rhetorical horse manure this appears to anyone with a political maturity greater than Britney Spears or Jimmy Carter--a low bar to be sure. It is akin to stating that we should all inhale moonbeams that we might then flatulate rainbows. The whole anti-divisiveness thrust of the Obama campaign is at once so gormlessly puerile and shrewdly calculating that his employment of it amounts to political child abuse--a substantiatable charge considering how many gullible young folk have flocked to his banner.

That j'accuse aside even those a tad less teeny-bop in their political sensibilities give currency to the trope that "partisanship" is always and at all times ipso facto and presto-chango a BAD THING. In this formulation partisanship is accused of being the sand in the gears of "change for the better". Its very name implies loyalty to party and in the syntax du jour this means a kind of greasily unsavory obeisance which hinders crucial legislative responses to the needs and vicissitudes of the crisis of---well there's always a crisis isn't there? These days being labeled a child abuser is very nearly preferable to being labeled a partisan or a divisive influence. Tellingly this invective currrent flows primarily from Dem. to Rep. through the diode of progressive sanctimony.

Let us all stand now in praise of partisanship. Not that it deserves cheering for its own shady sake but rather for its results. And salutary they are. Partisanship can slow down the legislative process to a crawl or even in its exquisite fullness derail it altogether. I thrill to think how much crap-awful legislation has been abandoned because party loyalty demanded it. I also despair to think of it because of how much consensual meddling is represented by the millions of pages of federal law that have NOT been prevented by partisan maneuvering.

Partisanship is the only real bulwark against one party steamrolling over the other and committing feckless follies in the heat of the moment. The ethanol mandate and the 55mph speed limit are just two of so very many ill-conceived laws passed by leges desperately wanting to appear to be doing something about something-anything.

The days of the broad stroke are over--the cultural heavy lifting done. More and more legislation is passed in the service of ever more elusive and marginal goals. Progressives viciously dispute this of course and remain in headlong, and ever more asymptotic, pursuit of the legislative "remedy". Conservatives who are chary of the need for a remedy for every conceivable lament of the human condition are seen as divisive, among other nasty characterizations. This has now officially become code for "not voting like us". Almost always these days the "us" is/are progressives who have the tendency to see themselves as elegaic bringers of tolerant light to the benighted masses of prejudiced rubery and to paint their political antipodes as the brutish jack-booted enforcers of racism and sexual oppression. Think this is rhetorical overkill? Read any "progressive" blog and then argue that.

Beware, beware, Oh Lord Beware of across-the-aisle agreement. A "remedy" approved by two whole buildings full of congress critters would make me want to hide under the bed quivering in apprehension. That many self-serving indiduals agreeing on a similar something must surely be the fear that FDR stated was all we have to fear. My hope is that if the Dems take the White House this year that the Reps have the cojones to be "divisive" enough to control the inevitable headlong rush of Dem. legislative hubris. Perhaps it's the best result possible in a period where the public appears to be in a mood to cut off its nose to spite the Bush presidency. Continued divisiveness is about as close to "The Audacity of Hope" as I can muster presently.

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