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On Bryce’s Mind

Washington: Polarized to the extreme

July 30, 2012
By Bryce Berginski Reporter , Pierce County Tribune

(Warning: This will probably be one of my most, if not the most, pessimistic columns ever. Doesn't mean you shouldn't read it anyway.)

To say there's some dissension in the ranks of our national Congressmen and Congresswomen would be a gross understatement. The U.S. Senate and the House right now are more polarized than my sunglasses. Congressional Republicans have mostly been pulling toward the right, while congressional Democrats have been pulling toward the left, and there's little if no meeting spot in the middle for true bipartisanship.

Lloyd Omdahl, whose columns I actually agree with to a point, wrote about this exact subject, and that article was in the July 7th issue of the Pierce County Tribune. He said, among other things, that the gap between the right and the left has increased in less than three decades, and things like fear, anxiety and distrust are at the heart of it. He also said in his article, and I quote, "A polarized, uncivil Congress must mean a polarized, uncivil populace."

But Omdahl forgot to mention that the incivility is cyclical. When the government, or people in it are doing something the populace doesn't like, the populace is unhappy. When the populace is unhappy, they elect someone who may, or may not, be as unhappy as they are, in the hopes that he or she will fix things. When that person votes a certain way on a controversial piece of legislation, and it doesn't solve the electorate's problems right away or at all, the populace gets even more unhappy.

In fact, quite a handful of the electorate are tired of the squabbling and in-fighting. According to an article on CNN.com, during the debate over the Affordable Health Care Act (a/k/a "Obamacare"), a CNN poll said that 52% favored it and 47% opposed it. The same article cited a Kaiser poll in which 47% favored "Obamacare", 43% opposed it, and 10% didn't know what to think. And yet House Republicans voted at least 30 times in attempts to repeal, defund or undermine the law. Both sides were guilty of falsifying facts about it, and both sides voted based on those falsified facts.

I wish I could say that if members of Congress on both sides of the fence find some common ground then they could work together, but I don't know if I can. I don't know if finding completely common ground is even possible. Back in the debt ceiling fight last year, to use that example, the "Gang of Six" was a bipartisan plan, and yet it got shot down. While some Republicans and Democrats may work together, who's to stop someone, or hundreds of someones, from swaying Congress to vote with their dissenting opinions?

 
 

 

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