Our Voice- The Collegian Editorial Staff
The “hope” that many Americans pinned on Barack Obama didn’t have much to do with the policies Americans hoped that the President would enact so much as it did with the bridges they hoped he would build.
Perhaps President Obama could work to mend the gorges of partisanship that have divided the United States.
Voters placed on President Obama not only the responsibilities of fulfilling his many campaign promises, but also doing so in such a way that moved American politics towards a more centrist view; a view more representative of the American people’s wants and needs, instead of one driven by party politics and partisan voting practices.
However, overcoming these gaps seems to have become too much for the President. President Obama constantly struggles to find an identity that fits into a suitable paradigm: leaning too far to the left for the conservatives in the nation, disappointing the moderates with political missteps and failing to rally his liberal base.
President George Washington, in his farewell address, made prescient remarks about the dangers of factionalism in American politics. If President Washington could see the strict lines dividing much of America today, one cannot help but wonder if he would be disappointed.
“The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension … is itself a frightful despotism,” he said.
The reality that compromises are necessary in political dealings is undeniable. Unfortunately, rather than compromise based on the mutual goal of forwarding the interests of the citizenry, Congressional compromises revolve around trading votes for votes on legislation and ensuring party money and support for reelection. When politics becomes too focused on political ambition rather than civic responsibility, the tyranny of monarchy that the Founding Fathers cautioned against has the potential to manifest itself in the form of elected officials.
Don’t mistake this dissatisfaction of the lack of progress in Washington as an endorsement of quick-acting legislation and rampantly expanded government powers. The writers of the Constitution carefully designed the American political system to rely on slow, calculated changes rather than flippant changes focused on the political needs of each legislative session.
What should be embraced, however, is the idea of progress and advancement of American interests on both a state and federal level. Effective legislation should be built upon cooperative governing based on mutual interests and ideals.
These problems represent nothing new. From the inception of the United States, political disagreements have dominated American politics. While the methods and the parties may have changed, many practices remain the same. In comparison to the mud slinging of the Presidential election of 1824, many of today’s political maneuvers might seem relatively tame.
The ability to exchanges now exists. We live in a new era of unprecedented access to information and instant communication. Discussion and dissemination of knowledge, thanks to the Internet, now can exist on previously unfathomable scale.
The Internet’s response the Stop Online Piracy Act and PROTECT IP Act demonstrated that the power for a constituent to influence their Representative or Senators on individual issues now lies in the hands of every politically aware and active American.
The responsibility now falls to every citizen to educate her or himself. Americans need to become politically conscious in order to affect the political change they would like to see.
I am not saying we all need to agree, in fact to suggest so would be an attack on fundamental American ideals. But the time for complacency and relying on mainstream media to arm us with the information we need has passed.
We need to embrace the American paragon that Abraham Lincoln expressed in his Gettysburg’s Address, of a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.”