"Let's see how long it takes for the Democrats to drive America into the ground," she said, and she said it viscerally, with an angry passion usually reserved for Hitler, the KKK or an ex-spouse.
Her biting comment was sparked by friend and frequent PnT contributor Bruce Kay, who had purposely worn a vintage Humphrey-Muskie button as a friendly jab to a Republican tennis teammate on his birthday. It was during a casual dinner with friends who have very little in common socially other than we all play on the same tennis team. Because of that, it was not surprising that no one engaged her or that she did not continue with her vitriol.
Our tennis team, you see, is a microcosm of our divided country (although being in Georgia, there are more Republicans than Democrats), and we are all hyper-aware of that. A response of any measure, therefore, might have "ruined" the evening, according to Americans' standard rules of socially acceptable engagement.
Regardless of the awkward circumstances, her remark was an eye opening moment for me. I mean, I know I'm not alone in thinking that the Republicans have spent at least the last six years "running the country into the ground". Aren't the missed 9/11 warnings, the fiasco in Iraq and the abandoning of New Orleans evidence of the Republicans' tragic mismanagement of our citizens' welfare?
One may conclude that this two party finger pointing could mean that both are right, that the agendas of both parties are ruining the country. But as pathetically attractive as that notion is, there are a lot of reasons to believe that is not true.
With forums like this weblog and other socially appropriate places to broadcast our opinions, all one has to do is watch the talking heads on C-Span and the Sunday news shows to know that we are being heard. We form the opinions that are echoed by our policy makers in Washington. Despite the attempts of the corporate-run media to classify issues as Democratic or Republican, Liberal or Conservative, there is consensus in the Congress of the United States. It is the mortar of practicality upon which our divided house stands.
Issues like minimum wage and the "Surge" have crossed the proverbial aisle and have strong proponents in both parties. The only difference is that the last Congress would not have dared to bring these debates to the floor for fear of offending their contributors or confronting their president. In an effort to appear united, Republicans in the last Congress, with a few notable exceptions, avoided anything that resembled independent thinking.
So the next time someone tells you that your favorite political party is driving the country into the ground, remind them that more than any other time in recent history, they have the ear of Congress. Because of that, our representatives have the potential to reach consensus now more than they ever have before, and we can be truly represented, and that is great for America.