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Election hangover: Bipartisanship

Fri, Nov 24th, 2006
Posted in Commentary

"Bipartisanship is another name for date rape" Grover Norquist

For those who are not news and political junkies, Grover Norquist is a Republican guru and activist. His statement above, quoted in the Denver Post, is likely to be taken literally by many Republicans.

Despite the above, the news has been full of statements by both the Democrats and Republicans extolling "bipartisanship". This was on the federal and the state level. If history is any prophet, this is all a preemptive strike to blame the other side when partisanship becomes the status quo. That is all to the good. It is obvious the country and Minnesota voted for change. Change always causes resistance.

On the federal level, despite the Presidents offer of cooperation and comity, he has already thrown down the gauntlet of defiance in several arenas. He came out within 48 hours of the election stating he wanted John Bolton's appointment to the UN ratified by the Senate: a bill to legalize his wiretapping and gut the law that limits a president's power to abuse the current law; approval of the sale of nuclear technology to India despite that nations refusal to abide by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. All of this in the lame duck session of Congress. All of these are contentious and would certainly require extensive debate and amending to be palatable to even some Republicans, let alone Democrats. His list included only two items that should take preference in the lame duck session. Ratification of Robert Gates to be the next Secretary of Defense and the nine bills needed to continue to fund the government.

Later he even re-nominated multiple people to the federal judiciary that had been turned down by congress previously. Apparently to stick a finger in the collective eye of the congress. Republican judicial chairman, Specter, has indicated he will not bring these nominations to a vote in committee.

Democrats also pledged bipartisanship and lots of other things. Don't hold your breath. Pelosi, even before being named speaker in waiting, poked a finger back in the eye of the administration. She named aggressive, in your face, take no prisoners, John Murtha her choice for majority leader in the house. Fortunately for the Democrats, cooler heads prevailed. Her choice also indicated a weakening of the resolve to get real ethics reform for the house. Murtha blocked the last attempt.

One myth exposed by the last election was Tip O'Neill's, "all politics is local". All politics, local, regional, and international involves and affects all of us. We all know someone who served in the Mid-East. Most of us know someone affected by death, injury, and disability because of it. We all pay higher gas and natural gas prices. We will all need to pay higher taxes to make our country solvent again.

Another myth that should be exposed, considering the above and many other factors, is that citizenship involves only the ballot box. Citizenship only begins there.

For those of you who voted for a change in direction you should be watching your elected choices carefully and insisting they perform. You should demand meaningful and enforced ethics reform. You should insist on absolute transparency in government. You should insist on non partisan over sight of actions, decisions, and documents that are considered secret and kept from public scrutiny. You should expect constitutional over sight of the executive branch consistent with the document itself, not the pleadings of an unelected person who serves at the whim of the executive. You should expect examinations of the scantily documented failures of reconstruction of the country we have broken. The people of the U.S. should be compensated by those who profited but did not perform in Iraq.

It is reasonable, and should not be considered vengeance, to investigate the calendar of events and information that led us into the pass we find ourselves in the Middle East. Initially it was weapons of mass destruction, when not found it was Iraq's link with Al quida, and when not substantiated (actually quite ridiculous), it was to remove a tyrant. There are many more tyrants. Some more threatening than Saddam.

Other reasons for your votes will occur to you. For those who did not vote for change, vigilance until the next election is just as important. If we all pay attention between elections, hold their feet to the fire, and require bright light to shine on their activities, bipartisanship might become a reality. After all, if both parties are involved in making decisions they can hardly point fingers or stick them in the others eye when both are responsible. That may even make campaigns more civil and palatable.

Robert Sauer lives in Preston.

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