David Broder is about half-way wrong this AM…and more’s the pity.
I am a long time David Broder fan. I have a worn copy of The Boys on the Bus, written about the correspondents who covered the 1972 US presidential campaign, and even then Broder was one of the most highly regarded political journalists out there. His stature has only increased over time.
But now and then he gets it wrong…and in his piece today in the Washington Post he is wearing rose colored glasses.
Mr. Broder reviews the numerous surveys and other indicators that the electorate is tired of the President Bush, the GOP majority in congress, and their policies. He suggests that candidates of all stripes have seen voters who are “…telling them that the public is tired of the partisan bickering, tired of the gridlock and eager to elect people who will focus on the real problems and work together to find solutions”.
Mr. Broder then asks if the electorate will “pull the trigger” and elect a democratic congress, because:
“If that lesson is reinforced by the election results, Washington will change. Congress will be run by people who talk with each other, across party lines.”
Huh? Who is he kidding?
There is bad blood in Washington, and one election will not change things. Both parties have contributed, no one’s hands are clean.
Short of a capital crime or financial misdeeds, the GOP and Democrats will decry any given behavior if it is done by one of the opposition but defend or rationalize if it is done by one of their own. Campaigns are won by finding wedge issues. We have Red and Blue America in no small part because it is more economical to win elections by carpet bombing segments of the country rather than trying to build a broad based coalition.
Why try to build a Coalition of the Willing that will get you 350 electoral votes when you can run with a Coalition of the Believers and win with 270?
This poisoned atmosphere is nothing new, and manifests itself inside and outside DC. Few can forget the unfortunate conduct at the Paul Wellstone memorial service in 2002 that drove GOP colleagues of Mr. Wellstone’s from the service and helped drive his seat into the Congressional column. We see it in Northern Virginia, where Jim Moran (D/Va 8) used to work with his GOP colleagues for the good of the region and would not campaign against them…now he is in the front rank trying to oust these men who have helped him by not campaigning against him…and I will not even begin to address partisan blogs.
One idea comes from Not Buck at the Richmond War Room. NBT suggests that what we need is a big old blowout landslide where one side crushes the other and there is no credible room for allegations of hanging chads, voter intimidation, faulty electronic voting, and all the losers locker room comments that are the rage these days in political circles.
Well, it will take more than that. It is going to take a change in attitude and a change in political tactics before Mr. Broder’s prediction reaches to fruition.
It will take a willingness to choose decency over deceit, to opt for dialogue rather than division, and conscientious hewing to a political model and method that looks to the Book of Isaiah (“Come, let us reason together”) and not the Book of Conan the Barbarian (“The Best things in life? To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women…”)
And until that happens, then Mr. Broder’s vision of a capital where people talk across the partisan aisle will be just that…a vision. It may even be a fantasy, a penumbra, a dream…but it will never be reality.