We must rid ourselves of America’s partisan politics

By By Anastasia Niedrich

By Anastasia Niedrich

Earlier this year there was public outcry over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys in the Justice Department. One party made the firings out to be politically motivated by President Bush, while the Justice Department, including its head — soon-to-be-former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales — claimed the firings were performance-related. What amazes me is that some politicians critical of the attorney firings are treating this situation as though this hasn’t happened before.

To the contrary, Justice Department attorney firings are “old hat.” Politically motivated Justice Department attorney firings have been taking place throughout U.S. history. Prior to the Reagan administration, there was a “gentleman’s agreement” that Justice Department attorneys served at the pleasure of the president and if you were a Justice Department attorney that took office under a former president, you resigned with the coming of the new president unless he asked you to stay. However, with the Reagan administration, this tradition changed from a more private one to a public one.

According to a non-profit, non-partisan organization known as the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, President Reagan replaced 89 of the 93 U.S. attorneys in his first two years in office.

The tradition didn’t end there. It became publicly acknowledged that President Bill Clinton had 89 new U.S. attorneys in his first two years. President George Bush Sr. had 88 new U.S. attorneys in his first two years.

Believe me, I would be one of the last people on the planet to defend almost any action taken by the Bush administration. My personal feelings on Bush’s actions on the recent attorney firings and other things aside, partisan politics are partisan politics. I do not respect anyone who takes part in them, as I also do not respect anyone who makes a situation or person out to be what they are not.

As we currently have a Republican president, it seems only natural for the Democrats to go after him in any way possible. That’s the way the political game has been played, historically. The Republicans do the same thing to Democratic presidents. But, let’s remember that the Justice Department attorney firings coinciding with the election or re-election of a different president mark a tradition that started long before President Bush’s presidency and long before Attorney General Alberto Gonzales took office. Some Democratic presidents have done the same thing, too.

Partisan politics do not belong in the Justice Department, among other places. Despite what should be the case, the reality is that our nation can’t seem to rid itself of partisan politics long enough to work together for meaningful, lasting change. Unfortunately, partisanship has become the rule and not the exception over time.

Let’s not be hypocritical and blame Alberto Gonzales for the U.S. attorney firings when we can all assume from historical circumstantial evidence that the firings were likely ordered by President Bush, just as the attorney firings in the Clinton administration were likely ordered by President Clinton.

This is not to say that Alberto Gonzales should not have still tendered his resignation for other reasons, but though it makes for great political headlines and helps incite political fervor, we shouldn’t criticize the opposing party for something our own party has done in the past.

Both the Republican and Democratic parties have corrupt members. Both parties have made mistakes. People are imperfect and therefore their organizations — political parties — are imperfect as well. Instead of playing a rotating blame game — blaming one party for something and then turning around and blaming the other party for the same thing later — let’s vote for qualified, ethical people to lead our nation, and let’s choose those people based on who they are — not just their party affiliations.

Let’s also understand that good people are forced to make poor decisions by the leadership of their political parties at times. So, let’s rid ourselves of the division that partisan politics cause. As President Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

[email protected]