While holding partisan opinions is part of our right of franchise, we must remember George Washington’s warning that it has the potential for destroying our national unity,  making us vulnerable to our enemies beyond our borders.  As we proceed into the 2014 election cycle, reflecting on partisanship and its role in American government would appear appropriate.

            Let’s start with the assumption that the vast majority of Americans want a nation of healthy, prosperous, educated people, who are self reliant, law abiding and community oriented.  The American political process then is the continuing back and forth debate between different approaches to bring this about.   If we acknowledge  the right to freely hold and express opinions, then we must also accept that there will be a great diversity of thought about how to achieve these goals.

            Throughout American history, these opinions have tended to coalesce around two political schools of thought, which have been formally institutionalized in the Democratic and Republican parties.  The Republican perspective has historically emphasized the importance of industrial and commercial expansion to promote prosperity, coupled with an emphasis on maintaining a national security policy based on military strength .  The Democratic perspective has tended to emphasize the role of government as the equalizer in distributing  economic benefits, coupled with the importance of negotiation and effective foreign policy as the means for achieving peace and security.

            The thing to remember is that both parties only represent a perspective, which can easily be oversimplified.  Good statesmanship will recognize areas of mutual interest and will demand the best elements of both perspectives in the formulation of policy.   Partisan affiliation should never be used as a license to claim that these perspectives are mutually exclusive.  Such a suggestion is the  very definition of extremism.

            As we approach 2014, let us welcome a vigorous and spirited debate of the issues but let’s keep reason, not emotion in the forefront.  Bad public policy hurts us all.  Taking the time to evaluate the merits of all perspectives in its development is an investment worth making.



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Chris Daley January 15, 2014 at 10:09 AM
Helpful article. However the reality is we're still very divided and polarized in America. I try to give credit when due, ie. President Obama and Leon Panetta getting bin Laden. However Mr. Obama has failed with Syria, Bengazi attack and now Fallujah. I believe negotiation is good when dealing with strategic G8-like summits with our world partners, however giving $ 7BILLION back to Iran as due them from past sanctions, to bribe them from further nuclear weapons development is WRONG, naïve and foolish. Narcissistic US leadership based upon public opinion to look good. We have an obligation to uphold our commitment to Iraq by using our drones, airpower to discourage al-Qaeda from returning to Fallujah, other strongholds. We owe our dead that duty! Syrian Assad has yet to answer for his use of chemical gas weapons on his own people? Aleppo is in ruins like 1945 Berlin. And the Bengazi cover up was just that to get Obama/ Biden re-elected in 2012. We cannot allow the terrorists to regroup anywhere; our policy, the Bush Doctrine was, remains you're with us, or you're with them! It takes force to enforce peace-that's why we have an Army, aircraft carriers, ships in Navy and Air Force. Somebody has to police the world; we're NOT Nazi Germany trying to invade, enslave the globe. We want NO MORE genocides and evil-plotting murderers in rogue nations that can't police themselves! An isolationist policy=enabling the devil. As for economy you can lead a horse to water, but you cant make it drink. I'm all for social causes to a point; there has to be some responsibility; I never took food stamps nor unemployment checks. Odd jobs, family, food banks, soup kitchens and church functions kept me going. In general closing, I think a healthy balance of the issues is required to resolve our problems. We need to protect our environment, but we need jobs, energy resources as well. Decisions on policy should be based upon facts, and odds of success, not self-righteous agendas and self-deluded visions of grandeur. Even JFK used the Navy to blockade the USSR from Cuba, not a partisan decision, rather the right thing to do and it worked! Negotiation not appeasement. Strength not pandering. Self-respect not approval-seeking. Self-reliance!
Steven Sadowski January 15, 2014 at 01:48 PM
Maybe my history is off, but with the exception of Bush, every major war was started by a Democrat: Vietnam (JFK/LBJ), Korea (Truman), WWII (FDR), WWI (Wilson) and the Civil War which was fought between Democrat sympathizing slavery proponents and republican sympathizing abolitionists. Before that you get into Whigs so everything's off. As for Democrats being the party of government, let's not forget let's not forget it was Nixon who officially took us off the gold standard in order to begin Keynesian debt spending, Reagan tripled the nation debt, created the earned income tax credit, and gave us amnesty. Bush H. "Read his lips" right into retirement and Bush W. well, that guy has his own place in history for exactly how NOT to run a country. So while I get your overarching theme, the fact is that both parties are actually a lot more similar than either side wants to admit. Both are beholden to large corporate donors and K street, both dole out power like a fiefdom, and both wreak of corruption and power hungry wannabes.
Chris Daley January 16, 2014 at 07:32 AM
Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) has always come across as non-partisan putting truth head of partisanship. Her findings conclude Benghazi attack was preventable; there were warnings ignored which resulted in 4 deaths in our embassy there. Gov. Christie (R-NJ) was never my choice for presidential run; his people under him got caught for this stupid GW Bridge traffic scandal. Did he misuse Sandy funds? His career is now over. Under Obama Administration there has been a break down in morale & discipline within the Air Force cheating, Secret Service sex escapades in Columbia and questions of propriety in CIA/ NSA. Some think Edward Snowden is a whistle-blowing hero; I say he's a coward/traitor who needs to crawl back out from hiding in Russia, to have any credibility re intelligence gathering. His behavior has given our enemies clues to our methods of monitoring terrorist activity. I see Congress has passed a budget, funding US government to October so there must've been a minimal fight this time over details, maybe we're getting somewhere?


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