Just Reach Across the Aisle Already

Sean Para, Columnist

The American political community needs to return to a consensus on political issues. Partisanship has fractured the political spectrum to such a degree that effective decision-making is much more difficult at the higher reaches of government. Budgetary issues, gun control and environmental regulations are but a few of the myriad topics on which the nation’s top lawmakers have radically different viewpoints. One might think that this extreme partisanship has always been an aspect of American politics, but until the rise of neo-conservatism and its apogee under the Reagan administration, there had been widespread agreement on major issues between left and right since the New Deal. Chronic partisanship serves only to fracture and weaken the lawmaking process, and prevents or slows down crucial bills from being passed.

The recent deadlock during the congressional budgetary debates highlights this glaring problem in our political system. It took months of wrangling and compromise to pass the budget bill Saturday, yet its passage has only laid the groundwork for more contentious debate in the future. The $ 3.7 billion budget will raise taxes and moderately reduce spending, yet will do little to reduce the glaring deficit or put America on a path to lower its massive debt burden. The gun-control talks are an equally lamentable quagmire of partisanship. The Senate’s rejection of an amendment to expand background checks is only the most recent example of the failure to compromise or for either party to see reason in their debates. Groups such as the National Rifle Association spur on conservative lawmakers to reject tighter gun regulation. The politicians’ ultimate duty to work for the benefit of their constituents is lost amid all this politicking. Instead they serve themselves and their parties and are continually reelected through financial backing by the same lobbyists that prevent effective lawmaking.

America must regain the consensus that made for such effective legislation from the ’30s through the ’60s. To do this, politicians must see reason. Power must be taken from special interests and ideologues and returned to the people. Many of these issues have simple solutions that will benefit the vast majority of the American public. Guns create violence and must be regulated. Climate change is a serious issue and must be dealt with. The best way to reduce the budget is to cut down on military spending. Despite these rather obvious solutions, lawmakers’ minds are clouded by party ideology and self-interest. To return to effective and dynamic governance, this must stop.