Thursday, August 28, 2008

Why Do Political Parties Now Feel the Need to Respond to the Otherside’s Convention?

I am Nostalgic for the old days of bipartisanship and respect in Washington.

Ok, I admit I am a sucker for a good political debate or any debate about ideas be it on climate, poverty, the best movie this summer (Note: It was Iron Man!) or anything. I usually don’t’ care what people’s ideologies or political parties are. Lately though, at least in the past decade or so, it has been hard to see that kind of atmosphere coming out of Washington. It has gotten so partisan that I am certain if a Democrat were to say he believes in God, a religious Republican would feel compelled to immediately become an atheist just so they can disagree. I am not one of those peaceniks that believe we should all hold hands together and sing Kumbayah, but I miss the old days of Washington, at least of what I have heard, when Democrats and Republicans fought each other on the floor of Congress but grabbed a beer together afterwards. Partisanship works for some, but in the end it hurts us more than it helps. The more time we spend attacking each other on trivial issues, the less time we spend finding constructive solutions to real problems like the economy, healthcare, social security and all.

As a fan of politics, no time is more exciting than the conventions. I watched each party’s with the same zeal and enthusiasm. In the past, I believe the candidates always respected each other during the other’s convention. So when it was the Democrats convention, the Republican nominee would lay low and cede the spotlight, vice versa. Yet this year, in which we have seen mediocre ads featuring Paris and Britney Spears, things are different. John McCain has refused to lay low during the Democrats’ party in Denver, he has made public appearances everyday and you can't watch the convention without attack ads by McCain. His campaign attacked Obama’s VP pick the same night he was named and now news is leaking that McCain will name his VP late tonight right after Obama’s acceptance speech. I have to turn off the TV after the convention because I do not want to hear “the other side” respond. Respond? This is not a debate, you don’t respond to a convention! The conventions should be a sacred time for each party to celebrate before the "real" election begins. Anyways, I expect the Democrats will return the favor to John McCain next week in St. Paul. Who can blame them? There seems to be a total lack of respect in Washington for differing opinions and that attitude seeps into mainstream society. We could segway to a totally new debate on how that affects policy decisions from foreign affairs to domestic issues, but I ll save it for another day.

Fortunately, I believe as the younger less partisan generation comes of age, the partisanship will finally die away, but I wish I did not have to wait so long to once again enjoy the conventions. Today, Barack Obama gives his long awaited speech, I ll be watching. When John McCain gives his speech next week, I ll also be watching, but I ll be sure to change the channel as soon as some talking head that claims to be from the “other” party comes on to tell me why each speech wasn’t so great. Talk about being a party pooper, please save it for the post-debate spins!

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