Partisanship shouldn’t stall democracy

By By Aaron Zundel

By Aaron Zundel

On Jan 20, 2001, George W. Bush was sworn into office as the 43rd president of the United States. But the occasion was not welcomed by many Americans.

Throughout the fanfare of the inauguration, a bitter, left-wing pall hung in the air, a pall buoyed by the notion that the new commander in chief had stolen the election from rival presidential candidate Al Gore.

No matter what President Bush did during the next eight years, he couldn’t win with the liberal left. His policy decisions were relentlessly villainized: The War on Terror was reinterpreted as the fabrication of a war monger; his views on stem cell research and marriage for gay or lesbian couples were colored as the ravings of a religious lunatic.

Before Bush ever even had a chance to prove himself, whole cross sections of people in this country dug their heels into the political soil, linked arms and began to chant “Hell no, we won’t go!” as if they could already see the future and the impending doom Bush brought to office. In reality, they couldn’t see anything. In reality, they were a pack of sore losers who simply didn’t get their way.

For nearly a decade, nothing changed in the left’s outlook on Bush. No matter what the issue, the topic or the context, Bush was sandbagged and slandered. And as I watched petty partisans bicker on national television, I couldn’t help but wonder whether I was listening to educated adults or myopic, petulant brats who were more interested in their ideology and power than the good of their country.

Democracies are like sharks: If they stop moving, they die. And between 2001 and 2008 the country moved very little, remaining largely deadlocked on every major political issue as people spent their time fighting over who was “right,” instead of “how can we get this (or that) thing done?” This run of political inaction was a large contributor to the shabby state of our country (encompassing everything from the sagging economy, to our tarnished foreign policy, to our low morale).

I’m generalizing, of course. And while I’m sure it would take volumes to explain in detail just how the past eight years of political squabbling and inaction have stagnated the country, I would love to hear from any reader who can make the claim with a straight face that it hasn’t.

To be fair, the blame for the inaction goes all around, but I heap the largest portion on the Democrats (sorry, guys, but it’s true) and their unrelenting opposition to all things “Bush.”

So, here we are in 2009, with a new president and a new opportunity. The tables are turned. From the Sean Hannitys and Ann Coulters of the right-wing world, I’m already hearing rhetoric about the anti-Christ President Barack Obama and his impending socialist Armageddon. Just on Thursday, Dick Morris posted an editorial on his blog describing the “Trojan Horse” tactics of Obama’s new economic stimulus package, where he will covertly earmark “an army of radical measures to change America permanently” (read: in a very socialist way).

What are conservatives to do? Do we listen to our pundits? Is it our turn to dig our heels into the political soil and try to stop the country in its tracks?

I say no.

For the good of the country, it is time for everyone to step up, get behind the political plow and push, stop worrying about who is “right,” and start worrying about how we’re going to get things done. Does that mean rolling over? Does it mean giving in to all of Obama’s political whims? Of course not. It just means we err on the side of compromises and political movement, instead of against them. By all means, my fellow right- (and left-)wing students, continue to complain about the direction of things, argue, scream until your lungs bleed, but in truth, there are precious few issues worth completely stopping the shark for.

During the next four years, Obama’s policies will either work or they won’t, and in 2012 we’ll have a chance to elect a new president to continue his success or compensate for his failure.

Regardless, the point remains the same. At nearly every point in this nation’s history, when people stand united things generally turn out for the better. When we are divided, things generally fall apart. If America wants to continue to thrive in the 21st century as it did during the 20th, we will need to work together.

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Aaron Zundel