The world watched as the U.S. government continued its partial shut down for 16 long days. But the political bickering had not stopped.
We have to acknowledge that we live in an era in which politics is dominated by political extremists from the left to the right. Extremist politicking characterized by the Washington gridlock, political bickering, blame shifting, finger pointing, irresponsible governing, failure to forge a compromise – and any other words and phrases that you can think of – which resulted in the government shutdown and a real possibility of a first ever U.S. government default are hardly unexpected.
The shutdown ended with a bi-partisan bill passed in the Senate and approved by the house. But extremist demagogues such as the Texas junior Senator Ted Cruz – a Tea-Party sweetheart – vowed to continue fighting even at the expense of another government shutdown. On the left of the political spectrum, we have an extremely leftist President. Barack Obama had successfully passed a signature universal healthcare bill during his tenure as U.S. President, and was successfully re-elected for a second term. Therefore, he is not at all likely to give in to the demands of the extreme right-wing tea party members.
In a matter of few months, we are likely to see another episode of political bickering that may involve another round of showdowns and shutdowns. All these are detrimental to the U.S. economy, the average American families, as well as the reputation of the United States as a world leader abroad.
But, U.S. politics has not always been this way. We might reminisce about the kind of centrist politics exercised during the Ronald Reagan presidency. Reagan is often invoked by present-day Republicans on the campaign trail and during political speeches. Despite ideological differences, Ronald Reagan and the then Democratic Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill had had a congenial working relationship. They had respect for each other and had worked together to achieve common goals for the American people. They both had conceded and compromised for issues both domestic and foreign.
While this kind centrist politics is not what we have seen very often in Washington these days, we should not neglect the fact that there are still centrist politicians who are willing to forge compromises, even at the expense of their political future. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell were instrumental in passing the Senate bill that ended the shutdown at the eleventh hour. As the result, McConnell is facing a Tea-Party-endorsed opponent during the upcoming tough reelection season. Let us also not forget Senior Republican Senator from Maine Susan Collins, the touted DC deal maker who led the bipartisan effort that ultimately prevailed. It was these centrist moderates in the Congress that had gotten things done, doing what the American voters had sent them to do; not the extremist political demagogues as we have seen in the likes of Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, who only care about drawing attention to themselves and fulfilling their own political agendas.
It is the centrist politicians that we need, not the extremists who do not represent the majority of Americans. These extremists have undermined this democracy with their extremism, as well as the reputation of the U.S. as a world leader.
Let us return to the constructive Centrist Politics.