The news and social media have been on fire about the letter signed by 47 Republican Senators that attempted to undermine President Obama’s foreign policy. There are even petitions calling for these Senators to be prosecuted as violators of the Logan Act.
As I scrolled through my news feed tonight, I found a post from the Washington Post titled, Republicans are beginning to act as though Barack Obama isn’t even the President. In the article, the author discusses how this recent act meant to undermine and question President Obama’s authority is evidence that Republicans no longer feel the need to show the President any respect. Aside from the constant disrespect that they have shown, they violated the long-standing tradition of not inviting a foreign leader to speak to Congress without discussing it with the White House first. The article also mentions an op-ed by Mitch McConnell in which he urged states to refuse to comply with new EPA rules. Lawmakers in Arizona are actually trying to pass a bill that they believe would allow them to ignore executive orders issued by President Obama unless they are voted on by Congress.
We have had some of the least productive sessions of Congress in history. The atmosphere in our political system is toxic. The Republican members of Congress are not only doing their best to ensure that the President fails, but they are so busy fighting within their own ranks that they are ensuring that government is failing completely.
I believe that there are a multitude of reasons for this change. Some will say that people are more ideological. I don’t necessarily believe that this is true. People have always been ideological. Now they have the means to connect with others on the same level and track every statement from their representatives. The two-party system that we have (and can’t seem to break with any consistency) is making the situation worse. There are people who lean conservative that may vote for a Republican, a Libertarian, or an independent. Unfortunately they are left to vote Republican or throw away their vote. (I know I know…voting off-party isn’t throwing away a vote. But let’s be realistic. In most races voting for a third party amounts to giving up your vote to make a statement.)
The problem this creates is that politicians are now criticized for being moderate or compromising. They are labeled as weak for negotiating with the opposition and coming to terms. If you have ever entered a negotiation you will know that it would be foolish to start the process by outlining exactly what you want to accomplish. You generally start with the extreme end of your desires and give up ground in order to get your opposition to meet you somewhere in the middle. With the current situation, members of Congress cannot give any ground without being criticized and risking a primary challenge by some extremist who will get the hard-liners excited, but nothing accomplished when he or she enters office. The result is the inevitable stand-still that we have been experiencing in recent years.
I’m not in any way insisting that this is the sole reason for the problems we have right now in our political process. It is a serious problem that is caused by the media and the voters. Each of us can take some blame. What we can’t blame on the political climate is the complete lack of respect. There is no excuse for not respecting the person holding the office of the President of the United States. I don’t care if you disagree with him. These are not people who are leading our nation. They act like a bunch of children who refuse to play with the mean guy because he won’t play by their rules. I can almost hear them stomping their feet and crying, “you’re not the boss of me!” The members of Congress need to grow up. The people need to make an example of them by replacing anyone who refused to at least respect President Obama as the President of the United States.