Opinion: Repent of party pride

Stephen D’Abreau

Stephen D'Abreau

For a long time, this nation has grown more divided and our government more incapable of doing the one thing everyone should expect from democratically elected leaders: compromise.

Over the last eight years, we have gotten to see both sides of the political aisle pay lip service to bipartisanship while they abandon the notion of making effective compromise. The political parties have forgotten how to cooperate, and everyone else has suffered the consequences as they try to pander to their respective zealots.

In 2008, we can look back and remember how the hope of bipartisanship fell apart. President Obama had majorities in 2008 in Congress, with the opposition led by in large part Rep. John Boehner.

For a while, it looked like Boehner and Obama could work out deals, but depending who you talk to, one or the other — perhaps both — of these leaders couldn’t make the needed compromises.

Obama then went on to accumulate power in the executive branch, expanding on the already bloated power of the president given to him by his predecessor, President George W. Bush.

President Obama began working to bypass Congress wherever he could, which many political analysts claim resulted in the Democrats losing control of the House and losing much of the Senate majority.

With their power restored in the midterm, the Republicans went on a shameful campaign of obstruction, abandoning compromise themselves.

Since 2010, we have entered an era of politics where the president and Congress refuse to compromise, one where the president expanding his power and bypassing Congress through executive orders is routine.

Many Republicans idiotically shut down the government despite warnings from then House Majority Leader John Boehner not to do so. By the election of 2016, bipartisanship had flown out the window and was replaced with deep divisions and gaping wounds in the American political systems and discussion.

As I write this on Ash Wednesday, and as you read this at the beginning of Lent, it is clear to me that we all need repentance for our political behavior. Reflecting on our history, our nation has allowed itself to be torn apart and divided not by political disagreement, but from hatred informed by pride in ideology.

Republicans need to reflect on the failures of President Obama and to not become the tyrants that Democrats supposedly were, as now the winds have changed.

Democrats need to realize that they were defeated on all levels of government for a reason. If they do not work with the new president, they run the risk of becoming the obstructionist they railed against and hypocrites to their own mottos of tolerance and acceptance.

For us little people, our job is to listen to those we do not agree with, setting aside our pride to understand and work with our fellow American. I issue the stern warning to not believe in the bigoted, ignorant, insane caricatures of the other side. Don’t assume you know where the other person is coming from or the motives in their heart.

Ask to be understood as to understand, thus becoming agents of peace and healing.

Stephen D’Abreau is a columnist, contact him at [email protected]