Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Can Washington Please Grow Up?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Can Washington Please Grow Up?

Article excerpt

America faces serious challenges. So why can't Republicans and Democrats get along?

America is one of the most stirring examples of democracy in action anywhere on the globe. But the way our legislators behave, it is no wonder some non-Americans find it totally perplexing.

Take the current political situation in Washington: Barack Obama ran his winning presidential election campaign on a platform of "change." His Democratic supporters roared back: "Yes, we can."

His Republican opponents ran their campaign on a sort of "We-too- can-change" platform. Their supporters murmured back: "Yes, we hope you can, but not too fast."

Centrist independents, who now hold the balance of power between the two traditional parties, and who after a year into the new presidential term had hoped for bipartisanship and unity in the face of crisis, must be mighty disappointed.

The Democrats, after trying to rush an improbably comprehensive liberal agenda into being in Year 1 of President Obama's term, have found out that "No, they can't."

The Republicans, after losing the White House and both Houses of Congress, have determined that their attitude toward anything the spendthrift Democratic majority in Congress proposes will be "No, you won't." The strategy apparently is to block Democratic- initiated programs with the hope that disillusioned voters will return a Republican majority to Congress later this year, and even hobble Obama's bid for reelection. The danger for Republicans is that disaffected voters might blame the Republicans more for disruption than the Democrats for lack of accomplishment.

Much of the electorate is left fuming over (a) millions of jobs lost, (b) a mind-boggling national debt their children and grandchildren will be left paying off, (c) big bank presidents awarded annual salaries in the multimillions for questionable performance, and (d) a political logjam in Washington.

The national mood is not helped by cable TV commentators of the more lurid character suggesting that the administration is leading the country to Armageddon, or senior White House officials terming those who disagree with them "retarded. …

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