Sunday, May 22, 2005

A Post-Partisan Era?

This is an op-ed I have been working on.

In the wake of September 11, the phrase “everything has changed” has been uttered so frequently and so gratuitously that it has been rendered almost meaningless.

This is unfortunate, because the words accurately convey a transcendent truth for millions of our citizens. These men and women reject the partisan invective that we take for granted as ubiquitous in our society since the attacks. They embrace the necessity of a strong national defense and respect above all the courageous sacrifice of our military.

These men and women are not Democrats. They are not Republicans. They are Americans living in a post-partisan era.

If you follow current events, you’d hardly know these people exist. The nightly news shows are heavy on political vitriol, but light on addressing the serious policy questions on national security and foreign policy that our country face. If 9/11 taught us anything, it is that these questions are ignored at our own peril.

Americans who remember that the suicide bombers did not discriminate between Democrats and Republicans or between hetero and homosexuals see little utility in society’s current fixation on our relatively trivial internal cultural differences. We recognize that these differences inevitably manifest themselves in the political arena, but reject the prominence they are given by American media. Too much is at stake for us to be that shortsighted.

There is no moral relativism here. Tom DeLay and his cabal of power-mongers are unpatriotic – treasonous, even – when their actions needlessly perpetuate the partisan divide in our country at the expense of a focus on serious issues. Similarly, post-partisan Americans reject those on the left with an antipathy toward President Bush’s often visionary approach to confronting these issues.

The post-partisan message is voiced by fearless, truth-telling bloggers like Andrew Sullivan, Josh Chafetz, and Philip Carter. They recognize that Democrats and Republicans alike must make a calculated and entirely rational decision to support an imperfect party, and do not glibly reject those that disagree with them. Rather, they are engaging and thoughtful, always questioning, developing and cultivating ideas that can help us better understand the world. These writers are difficult to characterize politically, because their primary loyalty is to America, not a party. For the most part, they are not idol worshippers. Post-partisan Americans realize that they have the responsibility to passionately but respectfully voice their disagreement with the administration. This is correctly perceived as a patriotic act, not a defection from the team.

Post-Partisan Americans are not naïve enough to think that partisan politics will disappear, but instead deeply believe that the American people deserve and need to demand a more relevant and civil public discourse.

But if they were to organize and speak with a common voice, perhaps one of the parties would better support their message. Cynical politicians might dismiss their writing as the idealistic rambling of an incoherent, non-existent movement. They would be wrong to do so. Post-partisan Americans are out there, and they’re dead serious about their love and appreciation for America and their devotion to its continued existence.
-- Eric


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