Polls and actions seem to indicate that the country is moving towards the center and seeking a kinder and gentler government with the ability to compromise. The divisive rhetoric of the past four years has achieved little, and, if viewed with objectivity and honesty, has slowed progress in many important areas. While there are still those, particularly in the media, who promote the divisions we all experienced during President Obama’s first term, the People seem to be saying “enough”.
I am not saying that we have come to a general consensus on all issues and that there will suddenly be peace and harmony in the halls of government. There are still significant differences among us in a number of areas. However, the edges of those differences seem to have softened. For example, the Republicans are suddenly seeking ways of achieving equity in the whole area of immigration. Will there be differences between Democratic and Republican ideas? Of course there will be, but for the first time in years it will be possible to find common ground. This is quite different from the Romney “self deportation” solution. Another current example can be found in the growing consensus among Republican Congressmen and Republicans in general, that the Bush Tax Cuts should be extended for the middle class as a separate issue from the rest of the “Fiscal Cliff” negotiations. This action would allow tax rates for those earning more than $250,000 to go up as of December 31st. This would have been impossible to even discuss just a few short weeks ago.
So, how come the change? “Holy Rush”, has some “good bacteria” infected us all causing an epidemic of rational thinking and civil behavior? Not over Rush Limbaugh’s dead body will such a change happen. That is, not if he can help it. But, I don’t think he has much of a choice. It seems that pragmatism is spreading as the 2014 elections loom just over the horizon. Polls are helping to lift the fog and disclose that Republicans are not perceived as constructive problem solvers. They are being viewed as obstructionists and the cause of many of our current problems. In fact, most of those polled still blame George W. Bush for our current economic problems.
A political party, first and foremost, must survive to be in a position of leadership. Those among the defeated Republican Party who understand this are trying to assess the results and the lessons of the election. We hear phrases like ” we need to become more diverse”, “we need to broaden our support”. Understanding the problem is one thing, but developing a strategy to solve that problem is the true challenge. How do you change direction without losing your existing constituency? In this instance we are not only talking about voters, but funding as well. It takes a lot of money to be truly competitive in an election. The issues are complex and the Republicans have little time between now and the start of the 2014 process to resolve them.
The Democrats have all of the leverage at this moment, because the Republicans can no longer afford to be viewed as the party of “no”. It will be to the advantage of all of us for the Republicans to learn to be a party of compromise and progress. That is when a Two-Party System really works.