Monday, August 18, 2003

In Praise of Partisanship

I was reading a comment over on Table Talk today that suggested that increased hostility from the left would just further reduce our political discussion to a rabble. I would disagree for the simple reason that the kind of partisan divisiveness we see in America today is not a new phenomena but is, instead, the re-appearance of something that has existed in American politics since day one. Partisanship of a variety far more hostile than what we see today has existed in various forms throughout American history. Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton fought a duel over partisan differences for goodness sake! What is different today and what is causing so many problems is not that there is partisanship but that the partisanship is unbalanced. In other words, there's a double-standard when it comes to partisanship. It's okay for the Republicans to be as partisan as they want to be. It rarely gets reported as anything strange and unusual. In fact, it is almost expected. But Democrats are not supposed to be partisan. At least that is the message promulgated by the establishment media. And when they are then they are criticized for being to harsh, to mean or just simply to partisan. America has worked best when a balance of polar opposites cancel each other out and allow reasonable people to step into the gap and actually get something useful done. But, for whatever reasons, the rules of the playing field have been changed to say that it is okay for one side to be as unfair in their criticism as they like but that the other side will be held to a much higher standard if they should choose to "be difficult". This is insane! Joe Conason is right when he says that the underdog has to fight back if it is to have any hope of surviving. It may not come out unscathed, but it certainly won't win if it doesn't even put up a fight. Politics is war by other means. Democrats have listened to the voices of appeasement for far to long.

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