Party Over Country

America's Centrists and Crazy Extremists

America’s Centrism and Crazy Extremists                                                                                                                                              Robert A. Levine

America’s citizenry is basically moderate and centrist. This has been confirmed over the years by various surveys that give independents, moderates, centrists a plurality no matter how they are labeled. When moderates and centrists in the two established parties that lean to the left or the right are included in the tally, centrists generally achieve a majority. Yet both Republicans and Democrats appear to be under the control of the extremists in the parties in terms of policies and candidates who are given party support. This merely adds to the rancor and partisanship between the parties and the inability to get things done that benefit the country.

Increasingly, politics has come to be perceived as a zero-sum game. If a bill introduced and supported by the Democrats is passed and becomes law, Republicans see it as a loss for them. And vice versa. The parties give little consideration to whether bills that are passed will be of value to the nation.

A prime example of this zero-sum thinking is the recent passage of the infrastructure bill by the House. The Senate had passed the bill months earlier with bipartisan support, including that of Mitch McConnell, the Minority leader. But the thirteen Republicans in the House who voted for the bill were considered traitors by many of the other House Republicans expecting a straight party line vote on important measures. Many GOP members feel that the dissenting Republicans who voted for the bill gave Biden and the Democrats a victory, without considering that the bill was badly needed and greatly benefits America.

In fact, a number of GOP Representatives asked Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, to remove the Republicans who voted for the bill from their positions on House committees as payback for their votes favoring the bill. Even worse, because of the extremism that has infected the base of the Party, the thirteen supporters of the bill have received thousands of threatening, damning and viciously offensive phone calls. Marjorie Taylor Greene posted the home phone numbers of these members and Steve Bannon gave out the numbers of the 19 Republican Senators who backed the bill. Ex-President Trump labeled them all as RINOs- Republicans in name only. The phone calls not only included threats to murder the Republicans supporters of the bill, but also to murder or torture them or members of their families. How far has extreme tribalism deviated from the moderate center of the electorate to spawn these messages of hate?

Meanwhile, in the Democratic Party, six members of the so-called extremist “Squad” voted against the infrastructure bill necessitating the Republican votes in order to insure passage in the House. These “progressives” do not seem to care about the re-election chances of the moderates in their party and it seems that for them it’s “my way or the highway” in the bills they support. They are willing to lose control of the House if the Democrats do not adhere to their precepts.

On the other hand, Biden’s Build Back Better bill that contains many social measures and has already been cut by more than half, has its passage in doubt because of imaginary moderates in the Senate, Manchin and Sistema who say they are reluctant to spend so much money and increase the national debt. However, in Manchin’s case, it’s probably more about cutting the use of coal to try and contain climate change. Maybe enough has been done to reshape the bill to generate the two recalcitrant Senator’s support.

Tribalism and extremist beliefs in both Parties are a danger to America’s democracy, much more so on the Republican right with its threats of violence than on the Democratic left. America is basically a moderate, centrist nation. How do we control extremism and rabid hatred against political opponents, spread by virulent demagogues over right-wing media and social platforms? It seems to be getting worse rather than better.

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The Democrats Keep Self-Destructing

The Democrats Keep Self-Destructing                                                                                                                                                                                                           Robert A. Levine

Anyone who joins the Democratic non-party and runs under its banner must have a secret death wish or a masochistic psyche. It seems that whenever the party is in a position to control the federal government and enact critical legislation, elected officials cannot get their s—t together to pass the necessary laws. It seems that often times the moderate wing of the Party will not back down on their stances and compromise on what they want, and the progressive wing is even worse in terms of compromising and allowing necessary legislation to get passed. With both wings, it’s my way or the highway, endangering their slim margins in the House and the Senate. The American electorate wants to see things getting done in Washington and rightfully blames the party in power for the stalemate.

Of course, Republicans are not helpful in the least. They act almost as a solid bloc with very few members willing to buck the leadership and do what they might feel is best for the nation. With the GOP it always seems to be party over country when essential votes are taken. But their near unity makes them appear to the nation at large as a party that can get things done, even though the things they do may have a malign effect on the non-affluent majority segment of the electorate.

Because of the Democrats lack of progress on passage of the infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better bill endorsed by President Joe Biden, Democratic candidates running for office had a difficult time this year. The situation may even be worse in 2022 when the stakes are much higher. Will the political ramifications of the intransigence of the two wings of the Democratic Party make them see the urgency of the need to act, because the social and financial needs of the populace so far have not made them budge one bit. And the GOP whose fealty to Trump and all his lies are disgusting, are certainly not going to come to the rescue of the Democrats and Americans in need.

What is the answer to the Democrats inexorable drive for self-destruction? A more aggressive Joe Biden would surely help. If he would act more like LBJ and tell the Democrats in the House and the Senate what must be done, perhaps we would see more accomplished. But Biden is laid back and prone to negotiate rather make demands even though he is the supposed leader of the Party. The likelihood is that he is a lame duck president, either by the choice of not running again or by losing the next election. Other strong Democrats need to step forward and tell the Progressive wing and the hesitant moderates what is necessary if the Party is to have any chance of holding on to the House and the Senate in 2022 and the presidency in 2024. The word to remember is compromise, to get things done for the good of the party and the good of the country. Self-destruction for the progressives or the moderates to get their way should not be an option. But both segments of the party see their objectives as paramount and and are unwilling to give an inch. Their stances will only result in losses.

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Party Over Country

Party Over Country                                                                                                                                                                                                     Robert A. Levine

Why does it seem impossible for politicians to understand that doing what is best for the country is more important than doing what is best for one’s political party? Truly patriotic Americans must know that sometimes one has to sacrifice one’s personal ambitions and aiding one’s political party if the necessary actions will injure America and its democratic system. While members of both political parties don’t seem to accept the notion of country over party in all instances, the Republican Party is overwhelmingly self-interested and unwilling to do what is best for the nation, using various excuses and placing the blame on the Democrats. Their use of misinformation and false information is fired off in a constant barrage to assuage their leader Donald Trump and to confuse and/or capture the American public.

Republican leaders are not ignorant and know that Democrat Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election by a wide margin. Yet virtually all Republicans insist that the election was stolen by Joe Biden and the Democrats, and that Donald Trump should really be president. At all the Trump rallies he emphasizes that the election was stolen and that Biden’s position is rightfully his. He uses these lies to fund raise and scam money from uninformed supporters who believe what Trump tells them. His rallying cry of “Stop the Steal” is repeated endlessly by his base and seen in bumper stickers, flags, advertisements and so forth. The fact that Republican leaders support Trump’s false claims provide them with some credibility although they are blatant falsehoods.

Trump’s personality of malignant narcissism may make him detached from reality to the point where he may believe his own lies about the election. But the remaining leadership of the Republican Party know these are lies and that Biden is the rightful president. Yet the vast majority of Republicans are willing to back Trump and his lies. They are afraid of incurring his wrath and being primaried by his supporters. Aside from Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, Republicans and their leaders are totally lacking in courage.

They must also know what their stances are doing to American democracy. A large percentage of American citizens have no faith in our electoral system and democracy itself, believing that elections can be stolen. There is also no faith in our political institutions doing the right thing for the nation, including Congress, the Courts and the presidency. This is all because Republicans are reinforcing what they feel is best for their party instead of what is best for the country. How can Americans turn this around? How can we restore faith in our government institutions and in democracy itself when it seems that the Republicans just do not care and keep propagating Trump’s lies?

A third party of moderate Republicans willing to stand by the truth together with centrist Democrats may be able to restore faith in democracy to the electorate. However, given the tribalism and the strong attachment of the far right and far left to their concepts of the truth, forming a centrist third party with any chance of winning is remote. Perhaps when the youth of America flood the voting booths, an opportunity for change will arise.                                                      www.robertlevinebooks.com                                                                                                                                                                         Buy The Uninformed Voteron on Amazon or Barnes and Noble