The Washington Post published a long Op Ed by a pair of think tankers pretending at both being “centrists” and offering an unbiased analysis of why politics has gotten so “partisan” these days. The pair also claim they know how to end this messy partisanship. But what they wrote is a perfect example of why things have become so polarized, not an example of how to fix anything.
The authors, Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein, published theirs headlined, “Want to end partisan politics? Here’s what won’t work — and what will,” a piece filled with all sorts of claims, pseudo analysis, and offers of solutions. The piece is practically one long paean to liberalism as opposed to serious analysis, but it does do one thing successfully. It shows us why the public debate has gotten bad not for its analysis and solutions but for the left-wing ideological underpinnings of their arguments.
The pair start with five solutions they think we should avoid, the first being a propensity to invest our hopes in a third party. On its face, this is correct. Third parties are now and always have been a joke in the U.S. system. They have never been worth anything other than a sideshow act. Only once did a third party ever make major headway and that was Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose Party — with which he almost won another shot at the White House — but once TR was gone the party collapsed.
It isn’t their insistence that third parties are a waste of time — they are right there — but it is in Mann and Ornstein’s analysis right there in the sixth paragraph that shows their bias and proves why partisanship is so bad today.
What they say in analysis in that paragraph and throughout the piece shows that they think that left-wing, liberalism is normal, it is the baseline measurement for what America should do and how it should think. So, naturally they think politics is terrible when the country doesn’t go far enough left to suit them.
Here is what they wrote in that sixth paragraph:
The third-party fantasy is of a courageous political leader who could persuade Americans to support enlightened policies to tax carbon; reform entitlements; make critical investments in education, energy and infrastructure; and eliminate tax loopholes to raise needed revenue. But there is simply no evidence that voters would flock to a straight-talking, independent, centrist third-party candidate espousing the ideas favored by most third-party enthusiasts. Consensus is not easily built around such issues, and differences in values and interests would not simply disappear in a nonpartisan, centrist haze.
Notice what they say here of what would constitute a “centrist” candidate. A “centrist” in their estimation would support,
- A global warming measure like the ruinous carbon tax that has failed every nation in Europe
- Entitlement reform — though they keep this vague and never say what it means
- “Critical investments in education,” a liberal’s way of saying pump taxes up for school spending
- Infrastructure expenditures, a liberal’s way of saying more taxes
- Eliminating tax loopholes, usually a liberal’s way of focusing on “the rich” and wallowing in class warfare
In other words, a “centrist” in these two’s estimation would be textbook liberalism. Their baseline ideology is so far left that it skews their entire piece making their “solutions” to be just more left-wing partisanship even as it is presented as centrist, even-handed solutions.
The two allow this basic liberal ideology to infest every section of the op ed. In their next portion, term limits, the pair say that a good candidate would need to understand “the need to compromise.” Again, somewhat vague, but usually “compromise” means “agree with liberals,” while liberals won’t ever compromise with anyone else.
But is “compromise” a panacea? In truth the founders did not make a system where we compromise for the sake of compromise. They made a system where that compromise would be guided by American principles and those principles make no appearance in this op ed.
Next they attack a balanced budget amendment idea saying it is no solution. Why? I’ll let them explain,
When a downturn occurs, basic economic theory tells us that we need “counter-cyclical” policies to inject adrenaline into a fatigued economy — meaning more government spending and/or lower taxes.
Liberalism again. “More government spending” is never a solution. Never. But to these gentlemen, that is a baseline “normal.” Why, of course an important solution to a bad economy is more government spending. (By the way, I am not for such an amendment, either)
Next the pair erroneously claim that the Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision has embroiled political campaigning in “a new Gilded Age of influence peddling by special interests.” Again, this is simply left-wing opinion, not fact and again liberal assumptions form their baseline.
The fact is, before Citizens United, only liberals had free reign on spending, unions in particular. Citizens United just gave conservatives much needed spending parity with the extreme left and their union thugs.
Next the two indulge a liberal view of our political climate.
…an examination of the Obama presidency suggests that we are experiencing neither politics as usual nor an odd blip. We are witnessing unprecedented and unbalanced polarization of the parties, with Republicans acting like a parliamentary minority party opposing almost everything put forward by the Democrats; the near-disappearance of the regular order in Congress; the misuse of the filibuster as a weapon not of dissent but of obstruction; and the relentless delegitimization of the president and policies enacted into law.
Like the good left-wingers they are, these two pretend that all this somehow started once Obama became president. Notice how they put the onus of recalcitrance on the GOP. No mention of Pelosi’s ignorant leadership when she was Speaker, not to mention the years before that going back all the way to at least Ronald Reagan where Democrats perpetrated this destruction of “the regular order in Congress” by being the party of no every time Republicans had a majority.
No, to these to partisan hacks, only Republicans are the meanies. This left-wing ideology is further underpinned by this laughably partisan sentence:
Given the defeat of problem-solvers such as Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) and the emergence of take-no-prisoners partisans such as Richard Mourdock, there is no reason to think the system will correct itself anytime soon.
The pair then get to their “solutions,” left-wing demagogy all.
First up is campaign finance. They want “donation disclosure.” This, of course, is simply a means for attacking political donors that donate to GOP candidates. Anyone that donates to the GOP is open for evisceration by Mann, Ornstein, and all their left-wing pals in the Old Media while the left and their union thugs and other groups will be left alone.
While Mann and Ornstein pretend all they want is “disclosure” of donors, what they really want is a ready-made enemies list for liberals to use to attack Republican donors.
On top of that, their campaign finance “solution” is just one long drawn out attack on the John Roberts Supreme Court. More left-wingery.
They go on to offer a few more so-called solutions, one of which is the foreign idea of “mandatory voting” laws where citizens are forced to vote no matter what. This is a thoroughly un-American ideal. Firstly one of our freedoms is the one not to vote. Secondly, the assumption that more voting must mean better votes is childish in the extreme.
More votes do not mean more informed votes and informed votes is what we should be looking for. Not just a larger number of votes. Remember, voters thought voting the Nazi Party into power was a great idea in pre-war Germany. Voters also constantly voted to support slavery in our country. A mere volume of votes is not a solution.
The story of the aftermath of the Constitutional Convention goes that Ben Franklin told a bystander that the founders had given us a republic “if you can keep it.” By this he meant that we had to have informed voters, voters that cast their vote based on the laws and principles that the founders gave us that day. Just adding a million voters to the rolls does not in any way guarantee they will be informed voters. In fact, it is likely they won’t be.
In the end what is missing from every section of this failed attempt at analysis and solutions was any discussion of American principles. Instead we got liberal pap presented as “centrism.” and everything else measured from a left-wing baseline.
Of course politics has gotten so “polarized.” When the liberals pretend that their ideas are truly American ideas, when they pretend that only their ideas are the ground level starting point for every debate, no wonder conservatives and those that believe in the founder’s principles don’t want to indulge in any destructive compromises and no wonder they seem unyielding to that vaunted “compromise.”
This absurd piece is proof of why our politics has come to loggerheads. Mann and Ornstein are part of the problem, not any part of the solution.