Each week in Watching Politics From the Pew, Benjamin Bartlett offers a thoughtful Christian perspective on the latest political happenings in the news.
Two big things happened this week in the story of bi-partisanship. Big bad things, if you like new legislation. Big great things, if you like hard core battle lines in Washington DC.
President Obama gave a speech that made it clear he is done looking for compromise. The focus on taxing the rich and unwillingness to address entitlement programs showed willful ignorance of basic debt math, and highlighted the fact that he no longer believes he can work with Republicans. From here into the forseeable future, he is going to depend on the people to send him Democrats to work with. If you want a quick summary of my feelings on this matter, David Brooks does a great job.
Meanwhile, Lamar Alexander is leaving his leadership post in the Senate. Alexander is clearly frustrated by the hard line Republicans have committed themselves to, and no longer wants to participate in the strategy they have espoused. I have a lot of appreciation for Alexander, and it frustrates me that even he cannot see hope for statesmanship in the US Senate.
I’m curious for your thoughts. Is bi-partisanship and compromise an inherently good thing? Should Christians support statesmanship, or can they be happy with hard line negotiations? Are Obama’s compromises of the past or his harder line of the present better representations of how a leader ought to act?
For myself, I find great beauty in a group of politicians having different viewpoints, but all assuming that solutions are achievable and valuable in themselves. I like it when they are forced to work out their differences. And I think there is little to be proud of when they decide gridlock for the sake of perpetuating negative messages about the other side is prefarable to compromise.
I believe each Christian is responsible to be a good steward of the resopnsibilities that have been entrusted to them. And I think it’s pretty clear that the political value of gridlock pales in comparison to the good that could be done if the government consistently sought compromise solutions rather than doing nothing. So when my government fails to choose the correct option from among those two, I start hoping for something different.
So here’s to hoping that somehow, both parties are penalized for their gutless stonewalling, and that leaders will rise who value the health of the state and and the country above the power of individual parties.