Note: Articles written by contributing writers don't necessarily reflect the opinions of J.Says herself.
The phrase "bi-partisan solutions" has come up a lot recently in reference to the fiscal cliff negotiations. Even at the current level of desperation, many politicians seem unable to consider compromise. This "my way or the highway" attitude is characteristic of most modern day politicians. I optimistically hope the United States is reaching a turning point in the way it approaches politics.
George Washington belonged to neither the Democratic nor Republican party. In spite of this, the then fledgling country overwhelmingly supported his election and reelection. During his time in office, Washington saw the heated disputes of the Federalist and Anti-Federalist parties and wanted nothing to do with them. Although he was no saint, his words on party division in his farewell address sound almost prophetic: "Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight) the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it. It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another..."
Rather than simply highlighting differences in the way people view public policy, political parties have become divisive in of themselves. Political parties are treated as a birthright, a source of personal pride, even a religion. Individuals who know nothing about each other can stereotype and despise one another simply based on party preference. Moderates, with barely a difference between them, take up banners handed to them by their role-models and pick a side in this silent civil war.
The government is constantly in a stalemate. Even when good ideas come up for consideration, they are routinely voted down because of the party of the person proposing them. Most politicians are so solidly locked into blue or red that purple is no longer possible. After the 2012 Presidential election, Republicans were expected to change their tactics and become more accepting of ideals they opposed. Rush Limbaugh asked in disgust whether the party should abandon its principles and support abortion and illegal immigration. The comments emphasized his narrow view of the possibilities.
A country that cares about principles AND people could achieve incredible things. Imagine what progress could be made if moderates would put aside their differences and find solutions everyone can be satisfied with. For example, instead of ignoring illegal immigration or promoting it, we could improve the efficiency and ease of immigrating legally. Rather than promoting abortion or ignoring the plight of young mothers, we could improve the adoption system and work to lessen the financial cost of child rearing. We could differentiate between marriage as a legal contract and marriage as a religious bond, securing protections under the law for homosexuals while reinforcing the right of religious institutions to govern the use of their buildings as they see fit. The parties have played their game of puppets for far too long. What we need is an America that's willing to change that. We need an America that's open to creativity and compromise. We need an America that can think outside the box. We need an America that sees purple.