What Republicans and Democrats Have in Common

When Obama was president, Democrats condemned Republicans for trying to filibuster to block Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. Today, Republicans condemn Democrats for the exact same thing. Republicans condemn it now, Democrats condemned it then.

What’s common to both sides? Lack of principle. When you have principles, you stick to the right thing, as your principles define it. This is something neither Democrats nor Republicans do.

Partisanship is not principle. Partisanship means rooting for your own side, regardless of what’s right or wrong. With partisanship, there is no right or wrong. We saw that with the RyanCare vote, the faux repeal of Obamacare. The majority of Republicans said, “Vote for this, regardless of the content.” Their only argument was for partisanship. They could not defend RyanCare as a repeal of Obamacare, because it was not a repeal of Obamacare. Its point was merely to give Republicans a win.

Unprincipled partisans dominate both parties. They only care about winning. If they cared about winning what’s right, that would be one thing. But they only care about winning for the sake of winning. Such a view lacks substance. Those who exercise partisanship count on nobody paying attention, other than who wins the fight. But the reality is many people are paying attention, or they sense the disingenuousness and dishonesty involved. They sense America’s politicians have reduced the sacred and deeply important matter of liberty to a sports match, and for this reason they do not respect their politicians.

For these reasons, neither side has credibility and neither deserves it. THIS is what the two parties have in common. It’s like watching a bad divorce where you know both sides are wrong, because neither has any virtue. Republicans may be right about more things than Democrats. Republicans still attempt to partially uphold the Constitution, at least with regard to basic freedoms such as the First and Second Amendments, while Democrats generally hand more and more power over to the federal government. The Constitution is at stake, and individual rights are at stake, although you’d rarely know it from the way these two parties operate.

Republicans would have some credibility if they fought on principle against Obama’s nominees. Instead, they fought about the process. Back then, they condemned Democrats for blocking a filibuster of Obama’s nominees. If Republicans had fought for the Constitution, particularly the First and Second Amendments, they’d have more credibility now, when they could fight for the same thing. Some of them will fight on principle, but most will not. Most will reduce the whole debate to partisan game-scoring, rather than the whole basis for our Constitution in the first place: to uphold personal and economic freedom, i.e., individual rights.

People may be largely ignorant and badly misled in today’s world. But I believe many can sense the lack of attention to principle. That’s why there’s so little respect for both parties in the first place. America was a country founded on principles. Partisans ignore principles, and in the process demoralize people who need someone to stand up for something solid.

If we had a debate over the basic principles, and the things that matter, I wonder what would happen. Let’s debate socialism versus capitalism. Let’s debate economic freedom versus command-and-control central economic management from Washington. Let’s debate the right of the individual to be sovereign over his/her own body and mind — whether we’re talking sex, economics or property — versus the subordination of that sovereignty to central authorities. Those are debates worth having, and even today the correct side might prevail.

The nomination of a Supreme Court justice is a rare opportunity to stand up for principle. Just once, Republicans ought to do it.


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