"Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.
Alexander Hamilton

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The way out of partisan gridlock

The way out of partisan gridlock

As we begin a new year and head into another election cycle, all evidence points toward a disheartening replay of years past.
We will see a rearranging of the players, perhaps, but the continuing landscape in Washington is unmistakable. Though Congress recently passed a budget agreement and a highway bill, it seems mainly to have spent the past year spinning its wheels. Our great deliberative bodies continue to be embroiled in an unnecessary standoff with themselves and a poisonous relationship with the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. More money than ever is flooding the system. On deck is a batch of candidates merely demonizing the other side in hopes of rallying support by scratching at the basest itches of the electorate. We have never been more divided.
The deterioration has brought our country’s government to such a crisis point that we have decided to join voices to sound an alarm.
The United States was launched in grand revolutionary spirit as an experiment, and after 240 years, the experiment continues. Democracy doesn’t work in a vacuum: The system is only as good as its citizenry and the representatives it sends to work its daily machinations in city, state and national governing bodies. In the sense that our system begins with the single voter, it remains revolutionary. But turnout in the 2014 midterms was dismal and, worse, those who did turn out don’t represent a wide and diverse sampling of Americans.
We have a combined 59 years in elected office. We don’t see eye to eye on a range of issues, and, indeed, we understand the particulars of our present moment differently. Nonetheless, our efforts to find common ground while in office were inspired and informed by a set of principles that are inseparable from American democracy. As we look out on today’s contentious political landscape, calling on these principles can help to define our challenge and chart our path.
We offer the following criteria for what we should all expect from our candidates, governments and ourselves, as the 2016 election nears.
∎ Compromise: Make no mistake – our political system was built by men in vigorous conflict with one another, but there’s a spark that comes from opposing ideas sharing the same space. It’s the purpose of the two chambers of Congress and the party system. We shouldn’t expect some kind of mass delirium to infect Democrats and Republicans that makes them all agree; we wouldn’t want that. Our strength comes from the disagreement, but we need to harness it properly and use it for something beyond the destruction of the other side. The Constitution was designed as a harmonizing system, balancing the competing interests of all the people toward something that serves everyone.
∎ Chemistry: Government comes down to people interacting. As Senate leaders, we each had a phone on our desk that directly patched us to each other. It created a chemistry that begins at the top and trickles down. But our representatives in Washington no longer know one another as people. Few members of Congress even live in Washington anymore. They no longer share meals or glasses of wine in the Senate dining room, their spouses never meet, their children don’t play together. Between commuting to their home states and the Sisyphean task of raising money, often there simply isn’t time. If our representatives knew one another personally, they might think twice before painting one another with a wide and ugly brush.
∎ Leadership: Leadership is the ability to sense where the best angels of the public want to go and helping them get there. It’s about governing – not necessarily winning – and finding common ground that leads to action. Our leaders have stalled on the major issues of our time: immigration, cybersecurity, energy policy, tax reform. Leadership takes genuine courage, courage to act on the recognition that the choice between right and left is a false one when it comes to getting things done.
∎ Vision: Nothing is more upsetting than seeing political leaders refuse to even attempt to inspire the country as a whole. We have seen more than enough strategy on how to beat the other side, to flip blue states to red or vice versa, or to win over some demographic slice. What we haven’t seen is a vision of where we can all go together, inclusively, as a nation. Whether that ultimate vision is something we entirely agree with – and the likelihood that we’d be in lockstep with one another is low – we still want leaders who communicate something beyond their own or their party’s aspirations.
We have enormous faith in the judgment of the American people, but it has become impossible to even know what that is anymore. Our political process is rewarding the extremes, and the political leadership reflects the view of that minority. It has become a race to the edges and a downward spiral. Citizens are too turned off to vote, which only empowers those who demand no compromise – leading to more discontent and less inclination to vote.
Democracy requires active engagement, mindfulness and tolerance. We can’t expect our leaders to do their part if we don’t do ours. We must retake control of our duty as Americans. The only way to turn the spiral around is for the individual American to make a commitment to vote in the coming year. If these resolutions for the New Year are to take root, there is only way: It is in our hands.
(Trent Lott and Tom Daschle were, respectively, Senate Republican leader from 1996 to 2003 and Senate Democratic leader from 1995 to 2005. Each served as Senate majority leader twice during those years. Their book “Crisis Point: Why We Must – and How We Can – Overcome Our Broken Politics in Washington and Across America,” co-authored with Jon Sternfeld, will be published this month.)

Source URL:http://www.concordmonitor.com/home/20330052-95/the-way-out-of-partisan-gridlock


Had Enough! said...

More lip service from two public servants. Leadership? It's difficult, to create an atmosphere of leadership when the man at the top has made it clear all he needs is his phone and pen. It's his way or the highway.

Excuse me for being cynical but when whistleblowers are the ones punished while those doing the misdeeds are put on administrative leave with pay or worse yet promoted it's difficult to have faith in the system. Two agencies that come to immediate mind are the IRS and V.A.

It's hard not to be cynical about our government when public servants vote themselves pay raises, take expensive trips on the taxpayers dime, kickbacks from lobbyists and exclude themselves from Obamacare.

Joseph Cormier said...

"Tom Daschle, a Democrat from South Dakota, was Senate majority leader from 2001 to 2003. He is a co-founder of the Bipartisan Policy Center. Trent Lott, a Republican from Mississippi, was Senate majority leader from 1996 to 2001."


Similar cry of the No-Labels effort.

"You probably don’t need to be told that childish name-calling and directionless debates have replaced principled discussion and intellectual honesty as the hallmarks of our politics."


Having attended the No-Labels conference in Manchester, a while back, and watching Joe Lieberman, a former Democrat V.P. candidate, introduce Donald Trump, 2016 Presidential candidate, was an experience (OMG)! The wife and I had started back to MoBo before John Huntsman, former Republican Presidential candidate, arrived.

I don't agree this "getting together" is because of party partisanship. If so, than why, by-partisan cries for unity? Do the parties have anything to follow, to be a supporter? Supporter of what? Cause de jour!

My "feeling" (pet peeve word), is the disregard for the role of the three branches of U.S. Government.

The Greeks had an excellent word to describe the state of affairs: "chaos" (Greek χάος, khaos)! This country appears so divided, but is it? Can't be the media, can it? Is it leadership, or lack of it? Or what's new!

Maybe Ron Reagan and Tip O'Neill had the right recipe. Have a couple of drinks and govern.

Hopefully, this thread won't degenerate into MoBo conservative/liberal pissing contests.

"The way out of partisan gridlock" ... sure ... apple pie and ice cream is good too. Don't forget to raise the flag.

Maybe "all this" is just human behavior and cause/effect relationships of the masses ... or is it messes?

Mt. Rattler said...

I get it. I agree, we are in gridlock, there is no doubt about that at all. However, let's look at why there is grid lock in our Governing bodies. First off, the divide comes at the realization that a Progressive,liberal base, is and fundamentally different from those who hold the principles and truths of our Constitution as being final, these people tend to have more conservative ideologies . I know I am one of those people. How can I compromise with another person who sees differently than I? Do we just give in to Progressive ideologies that we strongly disagree with, ideologies we find are counter intuitive to what the Constitution is? I think not, in my opinion. Does the left of Center do the same for the Right of Center? Nope I think not, they want their changes, they call us crazies. We are then at odds. Coming to the table at the center of these areas of disagreement, in my opinion is a Utopian idea that I don't think will happen in my lifetime. I'd like to see a solution to these problems, I'd like to see our leaders lead in the best interest of our people, coming together as one for a common cause. However the realization that our leaders have become career politicians, without term limits, and with unlimited careless funding, and who cator to international governing bodies( aka corporations, foreign governments, CPACS etc) are mind boggling to the Conservative ,especially. How can we trust that "leader" who ignores his constituency, and grabs hold of those dangling tensors from the perks of corporate lobbyists, all in the name of the common good? How can we trust a stacked judicial branch that interprets the constitution as an ever changing document, ignoring the straight forward wording that was put to paper 240 years ago? How can we trust a government that has an executive branch that signs an executive order whenever they can't get their way , thus bi passing the likes of Congress, hence ramming unconstitutional taxes and unwanted military interaction on the American people? We don't use Congress to declare Wars any more, we now force a naturally free by birth "person" to buy a product provided by corporations. The list goes on.. I have not touched on the views of the left, because they are counter to mine. I don't think like a Progressive. I am free to my opinion, as they are. But I realize that by giving an inch will only be taking a foot from our positions the following day. I love my Country, but I love my State more. We have given up our Sovereignty and the individual Power of State Government. We have let our Senators swing from position to position, when a carrot is put in front of them, rather than a Senator who was supposed to be a States sentry, the one who looked over his shoulder regarding his/ her States general assembly, and representing that bodies wants in the Republic. We left that at the door with Wilson.. Hello to the 17th amendment. As a Country, the Progressive opinion is to fall into lock step with the rest of the "World". Embracing ideologies that are not in our Peoples best interest. They would rather ratify the under the sea treaty, rather than look at what sovereignty it gives up, they would rather embrace the green social and political agendas of the U.N than realize how it will affect our countries security and Independant Sanctity as a unique Nation of Independant Sovereign States. But that's ok, I love my neighbors who think that Hillary will be a good leader.. That's who we are. But as a conservative, I can't entertain those thoughts, because I do believe in the ability to lead my life as I seem fit, to think what I want, to buy what I want, to just be if I want. I am the perfect example of a stumbling block to a progressives agenda, but do you know what? I am actually fine with that if it means that I am standing firm in what I believe in. Publius.

Moultonboro Blogger said...

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I need to respond to one point made by Had Enough. Presidents have used executive orders for a very long time. President Obama has issued 184 orders so far in his presidency. His predecessor, President George W. Bush, issued 291 orders over eight years, while President Bill Clinton had 364 executive orders during his two terms in office.

Joseph Cormier said...

Blogger is correct about previous Presidents having used executive orders for a very long time.

"The most famous executive order was by President Abraham Lincoln when he issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863."


Franklin D. Roosevelt 3,522
Harry S. Truman 907
Dwight D. Eisenhower 484
John F. Kennedy 214
Lyndon B. Johnson 325
Richard Nixon 346
Gerald R. Ford 169
Jimmy Carter 320
Ronald Reagan 381
George H.W. Bush 166
Bill Clinton 364
George W. Bush 291
Barack Obama (as of 2015-08-20)[10] 216

However, a more pertinent issue might be the legality/purpose of an executive order.

"Like both legislative statutes and regulations promulgated by government agencies, executive orders are subject to judicial review, and may be struck down if deemed by the courts to be unsupported by statute or the Constitution."

Of course, it depends on who is on SCOTUS.
Please ... no Gore/Bush re-hash!

I put in a Layman's Order for haddock at the BoB House Saturday evening, and didn't need a congressional approval. But then again, I wasn't ordering sucker fish! The next cycle might be a prime rib ... you know, like Adam. Or would that be Sam Adams. I ordered one of them too.

Hey look ... just an attempt at downplaying politics that will not be fixed in MoBo!

Just saying ...

Anonymous said...

USA Today December 17, 2014

President Obama has issued a form of executive action known as the presidential memorandum more often than any other president in history - using it to take unilateral action even as he has signed fewer executive orders.

By issuing his directives as "memoranda" rather than executive orders, Obama has downplayed the extent of his executive actions.

When these two forms of directives are taken together, Obama is on track to take more high-level executive actions than any president since Harry Truman.

Like executive orders, presidential memoranda don't require action by Congress. They have the same force of law as executive orders and often have consequences just as far-reaching. And some of the most significant actions of the Obama presidency have come not by executive order but by presidential memoranda.

While executive orders have become a kind of Washington shorthand for unilateral presidential action, presidential memoranda have gone largely unexamined. And yet memoranda are often as significant to everyday Americans than executive orders.

The Office of Legal Counsel — which is responsible for advising the president on executive orders and memoranda — says there's no difference between the two. "It has been our consistent view that it is the substance of a presidential determination or directive that is controlling and not whether the document is styled in a particular manner," said a 2000 memo from Acting Assistant Attorney General Randolph Moss to the Clinton White House. He cited a 1945 opinion that said a letter from President Franklin Roosevelt carried the same weight as an executive order.


Joseph Cormier said...

Just making my second morning coffee and came across an example of MoBo unity. Hard to find ... like nuts !


Here's an example of harmony ... with a touch of discord towards to end ... you know ... the end!


Anonymous said...

Any exec order or action can be undone by congress by passing legislation, by the courts or by congress not funding it. The practice of going around a partisan congress to get things done in Washington isn’t unprecedented, it’s the status quo.

Nancy Wright said...

Liberal Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley testified before the House Judiciary Committee in 2014, regarding the separation of powers, its history and its function. Professor Turley believes President Obama has exceeded his authority in a way that is creating a destabilizing influence in a three branch system. He warned that President Obama’s increasing use of executive power has placed the nation at a “constitutional tipping point.”

“Our system is changing in a very fundamental way,” he added. “And it’s changing without a whimper of regret or opposition.”

“I believe we are now at a constitutional tipping point in our system,” Turley, who teaches law at George Washington University, said. “It’s a dangerous point for our system to be in, and I believe that your response has to begin before this president leaves office. No one in our system goes it alone.”

Turley noted that while he agrees with the president on most of his policies, it still “does not alter the fact that I believe the means he is doing is wrong” and that the continued acceleration of executive power can be “a dangerous change in our system.”

Turley flatly rejected the Obama administration’s reason for using more executive powers, which the president claims is a gridlocked Congress. “It is simply untrue that we’re living in very different or unprecedented times. The framers lived in these times,” Turley said, noting that back then Congress used the Alien and Sedition Act to arrest opponents and Thomas Jefferson referred to his opponents as the “reign of witches.”

“This is not a different political time, and it shouldn’t be used as an excuse for extra-constitutional action,” Turley warned.

Short clip of Professor Turley's presentation can be seen at the below link.


Eric Taussig said...

Seems that at one point the US electorate was so divided that almost half the country took their chips and seceded from the Union. Not a great idea if you look at the casualty count of the Civil War (620,000 dead which then was about 2+% of the population of the USA).

As far as executive orders go, the precedent started years ago more than 200 years ago by none other than George Washington. They were then called "Presidential Directives". The one order that was declared unconstitutional was when President Truman attempted to place the entire steel industry under federal control. It was held by SCOTUS to be invalid because it attempted to make law rather than clarify or act to further an existing law.

Remember that much legislation approved by congress allows for the various federal agencies to issue regulations in administering the law and in fact there is what is called an "Administrative Procedure Act" designed to outline proper regulation process. Check out the thousands of IRS regs as an example.

Joseph Cormier said...

Had to ...


Grumpy said...

If you can't legislate, regulate, never let a good crisis go to waste, etc etc . I am in total agreement with Mr. Rattler. The job of a minority opposition is to keep the majority from total rule. That job is not always a pretty process (like making sausage). The Left always makes such a deal out of the two sides at odds. Only when they don't see a clear path to their success. But for the Right to come together with the left for any kind of compromise we would have to cross the center line (leaving our self respect behind) to even get a place at the table. "John, elections have consequences... I won!!" Obama to McCain at the ONE meeting for legislative ideas on ACA. That condescending comment was the signal of things to come.
I am totally disappointed that the Blogger used the old and worn out leftist propaganda technique of the NUMBER of exec orders and ignoring the scope of the total. Blogger look at the scope of regulation from his orders vs any other POTUS. Just for one area EPA has been expanded exponentially. Ask anyone who used to have a job in the coal industry.
"I am not the president of the Blue or Red states I am the president of the United States". He started his regime of disrespect towards law enforcement with transcending down about 5 layers of authority to call the Cambridge MA police "STUPID" (Maybe that's where Trump got his impetus for his over use of that presidential word). Without repeating all the details of that effort he showed his "race card" in the first months of his racially biased administration.
The appointment of Eric Holder, if you missed the Cambridge effort, was more blatant when he announce that he would more aggressively prosecute white on black crime than black on white. His notion that whites can't be victims of racial injustice because they haven't suffered enough was a shot across the bow for where this was headed.
So although the Blogger sees the glass half empty, I see these next few years as half full. The day I don't have to see Harry Reid come to the microphone with his blatant lies or Nancy (you have to pass it before we know whats in it) Pelosi with her bashing the right at every turn, will be a good start.
If we think these times are tough read some of the Founding Fathers and how well they got along. They didn't have to resort to "can't we all just get along" and "no score soccer" to get the job done. Ask Alex Hamilton about that one.

Anonymous said...

Poor old Grumpy, if he only turned off fox news his brain may come back to life.

Anonymous said...

That goes for Mr. Rattler as well.

Sometimes watching Fox I wish that there was a Rupert Murdoch exception for the First Amendment.

Moultonboro Blogger said...

This discussion personifies the problems we are facing in this country. We are so polarized and in the now acceptable habit of labeling everyone and everything that we can no longer visualize the center and find any common ground. The No Labels movement Joe C. posted is a way out. We can blame each other all day and in the end, our problems and national debates will continue to rage. One last point before I close this thread which is that Fox News, CNN etal are in it for the profit, not for the good of mankind. Reporters say outrageous things and make news instead of simply reporting it to generate ratings. If you choose to believe everything the talking heads say, you are doing yourselves a disservice.