The rules of politics in the United States continue to evolve over time, especially in the current environment dominated by division, hysteria, and tribalism. Traditionally, our elected officials embodied greater aspirations for society, constructing arguments around vision and hope for a better state of our society. Aspirations built on principle, fact, and purpose. As our social attitudes and values changed over the years, few should be surprised that our political discourse no longer centers around fact-based arguments but fabrications and personal attacks. For a better future, Americans must demand more from our elected officials.
Americans must demand that our political parties and elected officials embody greater civility and decorum in national debates. Demand that fact and principle prevail over fabrication and deceit. Also, Americans must be cautious of political organizations that do not serve the public’s interest but stoke the emotions of the general public for financial or political gain. In political system dominated by two parties, direct opposition should be expected and welcomed. Though expectations of acceptable behaviors should be in place to ensure our democracy ensues.
No person can reasonably expect for candidates and supporters on the defeated side to abandon their principles or drop the fight for their causes after the contest. In the United States, political opponents are not exiled or jailed. But most accept the will of the people. In doing so, the opposition party waits for opportunities where there are clear differences in principle to confront their political foe. Galvanizing their supporter base around the defense of strongly held values or principles that bond members of that political party. Successful opposition campaigns relies on convincing enough independent minded people to accept the opposing argument.
The Congressional GOP during the Obama era needed to focus their opposition campaign around principle disagreement, not simply disagreeing with the outcome of an election. Besides President Obama’s formidable political machine, the fact that he was our first minority president provided his supporters the ability to brush off criticism using claims of racism or bigotry. To avoid such confrontations, GOP leaders and their Republican base focused their opposition on his big government view and progressive economic agenda. The aim was to show how the Obama agenda ran afoul of societal needs and long held core values that laid foundation for economic prosperity.
The opposition effort did not stop President Obama from winning re-election, enacting ObamaCare, or growing the national debt. But the campaign did hold him accountable to the failures of those policies, which negatively impacted his ability to maintain a complacent Democratic Congress. Following a 2008 wave that made left leaning media members eulogize the Republican Party, GOP leaders were able to create their own waves in 2010 and 2014 to retake Congress and control of many state governments. The effort was successful in making Americans aware that they could do better and the economic strife was not of their doing, but the policy failures of those in DC controlling the government at the time.
The current political environment is highly charged with anger, hysteria, and resentment, which is creating much division. As a result, political opposition in the current era channels those emotions for political gain. Democrats and progressive liberal supporters place great value on anger rather than debate, resorting to political petulance. Political marketers caught up with their corporate counterparts in understanding that emotional connections maintain strong bonds with target audiences faster than utilizing sound logic and outlaying arguments. The reliance on emotionally charged rhetoric over substantive debates is regressing our society.
The Trump Resistance effectively channeled the anger of the petulant left to cover for Democratic failures during the 2016 election cycle and maintain public pressure on President Trump. Media partners consistently sensationalize any story that may paint President Trump or his base negatively. The actual results of the opposition campaign are somewhat spotty. While it appeared ready to retake Congress, Democrats only achieved winning a slight majority in the House, while the GOP won other high-profile races. The outcome was somewhat impacted by the missteps in the opposition to the Kavanaugh nomination.
The opposition campaign is effectively prolonging the Mueller investigation and Russia narrative, despite a clear lack of evidence backing claim of stealing the election. Moreover, new narratives by Democrats are clear fabrications and lack any rationality or believability. President Trump would not seek to create jobs, grow wages, sanction Russia, or challenge unfair trade practices if he was working for and with Russia. Russia may have sought to influence and spread chaos, but their campaign was ineffective.
There is a clear need to return toward civility, decorum, and honesty. Turn away from political brinkmanship in favor of compromise and bipartisanship. Political opponents should hold firm on principle but must work together for the betterment of those that cast the ballots. All too many politicians obsessively focus on their political outcomes instead of the political, economic, and social outcomes of the general public. In turn, these individuals are willingly to go to no end in destroying opponents and harming reputations, which is not aligned with our core values.
Americans must not only hold the party in power accountable, but the opposition as well. In a two-party dominated system, voters need to force the opposition to do more than simply play to their emotions to gain power but demonstrate an agenda and platform that benefits the general public not the opposition party. Politics are emotional but people must be rational. Doing so will make our politicians grow up again.