Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"Country Before Party"

No phrase in the public discourse infuriates us more than “country before party.”

Over and over again (including yesterday in his campaign stop in Detroit) we hear President Obama ask “if congressional Republicans will put country before party”, followed up swiftly as #countrybeforeparty in White House tweets.

What exactly does President Obama mean by this? Is he suggesting that Republicans are purposefully making decisions that they know will harm the country? Does he really believe that before a vote, Congressman Joe Republican is sitting at his desk debating between a “yea” vote that is best for the country and a “nay” vote that is bad for the country but somehow best for his party?

We’d urge the Obama administration to provide an example of a decision that hurt the country but served to advance the political party that made that decision. They can’t because it defies logic. The successes and failures of a political party are inextricably linked to the successes and failures of the country as a whole. President Obama only has to look back to the election results in 2010 for a perfect example of this relationship. A Democratic super-majority failed the country, and as a result, suffered huge electoral losses en route to losing control of the House. As the country goes, so goes the political party in charge.

Therefore, it sounds like “country before party” is really just code for “do what we say, we know best.”

As difficult as it might be for President Obama and his fellow Democrats to accept (despite the glaring evidence of two and a half years of legislative and executive ineptitude), they don’t have all the answers. In reality, Joe Republican disagrees with Democrats simply because he doesn’t believe their approach will help the country. Joe Republican does not disagree with the Democrats just because he’s a Republican, he disagrees because he doesn’t believe in, or subscribe to, the specific ideals and principles encapsulated in the Democrats’ proposals.

Suggesting that politicians, not to mention the country as a whole, blindly follow their President at the expense of standing up for their ideals and principles reeks of desperation with hints of dictatorship. This strain of thought, while perhaps a convenient excuse for an unsuccessful President, is neither reality nor democratic (note the lower case “d”). If anything, the passionate debate in Washington, while not very efficient in addressing our problems, is a sign that our democracy is alive and well. We have faith (perhaps naively) that the primary motivation for any politician, whether Republican, Democrat or Independent, is to govern in a way that best promotes a safe and prosperous country.

Time will tell which party, or group of individuals (e.g. Independents), usher in growth and prosperity. However, we know for certain that whomever the public see as the usher will be in a position for huge gains in electoral influence.


Post a Comment