Vail Daily column: Death of party politics
December 1, 2013
Editor's note: This is the first of two parts. See Wednesday's Vail Daily for Part 2.
Given recent congressional approval ratings, incumbents and candidates have found it better to eliminate any reference to party affiliation in their campaigns. Their response is a reflection of recent polls such as the Washington Post/ABC poll Oct. 25, which has Congress at the lowest approval rating in history: Twelve percent approve, 85 percent disapprove. People are tired of political rhetoric and partisan gridlock.
The disillusionment of the American people hit new heights when those who opposed President Bush's "War on Terror" discovered that the New York attack created financial scenarios that would lead to fiscal disaster, years later. In 2008, opponents decided to elect the anti-Bush, and what they got surprised even them! He would become a historic president on many fronts, with some considering him to be the most radical president in U.S. history. "Fundamental change" and "wealth redistribution" were set to become his legacy, and it was particularly appealing to those hit hardest by the recession. But what would be the long-term impact of those policies? Are these merely adaptations, necessary to accommodate modern development, or alterations to the foundation of our country? Would these policies lead us to the same failed status as that of the many European countries in which they were fashioned? Those unimpressed with the historic nature of his presidency could see the compounded influence his policies would make on the fundamental structure of our nation. Often accused of racism for challenging the president on his policies, many conservatives objected to the radical changes that were being implemented, and concern arose about the potential impact to America's cultural foundation and economic base.
Conservatives became wary of this young president's inexperience and promotion of his "change you can believe in" policies, as they saw the economy tank and our nation incurring record-breaking debt, well beyond cyclical expectations. Suddenly, the secrecy in which this president operated, some say out of caution and/or desire for personal privacy, became suspect and conspiracy theories began running rampant. Instead of explanations, the nation received motivational platitudes that resulted in continued fiscal chaos. Add to that, the increase in global unrest, and a novice commander-in-chief who seemed to make matters worse with every international encounter. The economy was in a free-fall, our allies abroad were mishandled and appearing to seek alliances elsewhere, Americans abroad were in peril, and a new social agenda was in the works. All within this administration's first term. Something needed to be done.
Meet the rise of the libertarian and tea party movements. Libertarians, a fiscally-focused group, expressed appropriate outrage at what appeared to be irresponsible fiscal decisions, legislative incompetence and a total disregard for proven economic policy. Since a country is only as strong and secure as its economic base, this imbalance created a genuine threat to our entire way of life. Add to that, the "social" changes being proposed and legislated. These included areas that have been traditionally handled by the states or individual entities, to accommodate local needs and priorities. Suddenly, there appeared to be government attacks on religion (Christians, in particular) which included a limitation on the celebration of holidays, spiritual practices, a redefinition of marriage, an imposition of abortion mandates in religious hospitals, even a mandate for sex education in public schools for children as young as kindergarten age. Other "social" changes being proposed and implemented by this administration included extensive gun control legislation; the establishment of a "common core" curriculum which did not take into account local or regional considerations and required a teaching-to-the-test mandate that often included revisionist history and anti-conservative agendas; plus the highly controversial Obamacare that incorporated the new "must be passed to find out what's in it" approach to legislation. Although it may not have been the intention, these issues appeared to attack the very fabric of our society and governance; one of individual rights and freedom.
To counter what was quickly becoming a socialized view of America via this administration's focus on the "redistribution of wealth," the tea party was born; expressing a return to the traditional values and constitutional obligations as outlined by the Founding Fathers, sprinkled with the patriotism exhibited on Sept. 12, 2001. While it is true that the definition of certain policies must adapt to the times, and there is certainly an obligation to protect those unable to help themselves; the foundation of our government must remain in line with our constitutional responsibilities; that of insuring the continued freedom and rights of the individual. There is an overlying commitment to protecting the American dream for future generations. For, if we are not fully committed to one another and our country, we are doomed to fail. While both parties are in agreement as to the ultimate objective of protecting our foundational structure, there are serious disagreements as to how that is accomplished.
Jacqueline Cartier, who has more than 25 years of political communications experience and is the president and CEO of Winning Images, recently moved back to Eagle-Vail from Washington, D.C. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 202-271-4165. Visit her website at http://www.cartier winningimages.com.