The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Polarization and divisive Presidents

Before George W. Bush was elected President, he remarked “I'm a uniter, not a divider.” Yet the country was more divided and polarized during his Presidency than it had been for a long time. And his successor, Barack Obama, had also expressed similar rhetoric:

Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America.

There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America.

The pundits, the pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue States: red states for Republicans, blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states.

We coach little league in the blue states and, yes, we've got some gay friends in the red states.

But under this same Barack Obama, the polarization increased even more, to the point that it is hard to believe that it can ever be repaired. The United States Senate, for example, recently adopted a change of rules to throttle the minority's ability to filibuster executive nominees for some positions.

George W. Bush believed he could unite Republicans and Democrats in Washington, D. C., because he had done so as Governor of Texas. But Texas Democrats are a different breed from the Democrats he faced in the Nation's Capital: conservative enough that Bush could work with them without compromising his principles. In fact, George W. Bush's lieutenant governor during much of his service was a Democrat, Bob Bullock, and yet they were able to work closely together. But Bullock was not the vicious partisan that Bush faced in Nancy Pelosi in Washington, D. C. So he could not unite the parties in D. C.

And similarly, Barack Obama didn't understand the task when he became George W. Bush's successor as President. He had never been a chief executive. And his experience in south-side Chicago politics had never exposed him to the principles that Republicans hold dear. He assumed they shared his values, and tried to sell them his plans based on those values — which of course failed utterly.

So what would it take to be a unifying President? For one, someone who has been a chief executive in a state where the other party has a lot of power — a Democrat in a red state, or a Republican in a blue; and it would also take someone who has actually worked with the leaders of the opposite party to accomplish what he set forth as his program. Mitt Romney would have been someone who had a chance to fill that role; unfortunately, he faced an African-American opponent who brought out his co-race voters in 93% proportions, and with historically high turnouts. In the absence of this factor, he would be President now, and we would not be going through the throes of agony over “Obamacare's” launch. But we can't turn the clock back to 2012 and rerun it, and it is obvious to me that this nation's most likely path toward unification is to have Chris Christie as the next president. It is devoutly to be hoped that the hard-line conservatives in the GOP do not thwart the nomination of the one Republican who seems likely to win in 2016. And if the 2013 New Jersey gubernatorial election is any clue, if the Republicans do nominate Christie, he will win, getting a lot of votes from people who normally support Democratic candidates.

And that is the path to a united Unoted States.

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