Ryan Blames Partisanship on Wrong Person and Party

By YeOldeScribe ~ August 21st, 2012 @ 12:44 pm

Paul Ryan’s selection as Mitt Romney’s Vice President made a huge splash in the media and political worlds last weekend. It was very unexpected, and everyone had to quickly analyze the new candidate because he was so far down on most people’s VP lists. Ryan played things smart over his first week as the new VP nominee, appearing both with Mitt and on his own, touting the need to “believe in America” (or whatever Romney’s slogan is now). He didn’t have many comments about his proposed budget, nor did he make many policy statements. This was very smart on his part – after all, he’s the Vice Presidential nominee; he’s not #1 on the ticket. But Ryan did make one statement that we found very interesting, so we’d like to take a few moments and analyze it for you.

Speaking in Virgina, Ryan had this to say, “Remember the line, ‘We’re not red states, we’re not blue states but we’re the United States of America? I want to be a uniter, not a divider?’ I tell ya, I’ve served with three presidents since I have been in Congress, this is the most partisan atmosphere I have ever seen. This is not uniting, this is dividing.” (In case it wasn’t clear, Ryan is referring to statements Obama made shortly after being elected in 2008.)

Surprisingly, we’re going to absolutely agree with Ryan 100% about the statements he makes here. This is the most partisan politics have been in a long time. The only thing comparable to us would be Congress in ’95-96, when the government actually did shut down.  The partisanship is dividing, not uniting. The average citizen is so disgusted with Congress that many are starting to not vote in elections (more on that later this week why that is a Republican-grown strategy). Satisfaction with Congress is at an all-time low, and that trend doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. And Ryan is right, this has all been happening while Obama is in office. There’s just one tiny detail we disagree with Mr. Ryan about…

…This isn’t Obama’s fault. Republicans are to blame.

Sure, if this is the first half of Obama’s term, you could definitely make that argument. Obama and Democrats ramrodded through the PPACA and a lot of other policies without so much as input from Republicans. But Obama is a fast learner, and when his party got spanked in the 2010 Mid-Term elections, he immediately set out to do some bridge building. In a lame duck session (where typically nothing gets done), Obama was able to get four things passed that were important to both him and the nation. It was a true Christmas miracle, in a sense – Republicans opposed all six things Obama wanted passed at the time, but instead of giving up, Obama bucked his own party and made compromises that neither party really liked but had to accept.

But what’s happened since? The biggest change has been the Tea Party movement. These wonderful people were elected into Congress as a response to the President’s first two years in office. Republicans (and even some moderates) were so swamped with the changes made by Democrats that they went as far as they could in the opposite direction – and thus, the Tea Party was born. You wouldn’t think this would be a bad thing, by the sounds of it – even here at Political Progressives, we’ve been calling for a legitimate third party to step up and challenge the Republicans and Democrats, and that’s supposedly what the Tea Party was all about – they ran as Republicans, but made it clear from the start that they had very little allegiance to RNC leadership and would instead vote based on Tea Party principles.

The end result was not pretty. Most of the Tea Baggers are opposing any plan that involves raising any taxes (including plans that allow tax breaks to expire, even for the ultra-rich). They’ve also refused to accept almost every plan that has been proposed by Obama, simply because he’s the one proposing it. Forget the merits of legislation and what these bills are actually trying to do (say the Tea Baggers) – if it has Obama’s name on it, it must be evil. These policies have been contributing factors to the gridlock plaguing our nation.

But the biggest reason why the Tea Party and Republicans in general are destroying our nation is their refusal to accept compromise. The Tea Party firmly believes that compromise is wrong. That it’s a sign of weakness. That if you don’t get everything you wanted, then you got nothing. That if you don’t win 100%, you lose 100%. That if you give the other side one tidbit they wanted, you’ve failed. That’s a dangerous game to play in politics, which is wholly dependent on compromise to work. Especially in a system where one side controls the House, one controls the Presidency and the Senate is essentially 50/50, compromise is downright necessary to get anything done.

This dangerous game of high stakes chicken almost caused our government to shut down last year, and did cost the US its AAA credit rating. Who knows what it’s cost us in terms of economic damage (which Republicans will now blame on Obama) and what it’s done in terms of our global leadership capabilities. It’s caused us to waste millions of dollars and countless hours of debate over a law (the PPACA) that’s already been passed and now has no chance of being repealed. It’s caused us to miss out on passing a real budget the last two years. It’s going to continue to damage politics in America, and eventually that damage is going to start to hurt. One day we won’t be able to compromise on something like the military or economic policy, and our status as a world superpower will be in jeopardy because Republicans are trying to have their pie and eat it too. And their cake. With whipped cream. And a cherry on top.

We’re not saying this partisanship is all Ryan’s fault. It’s not. It’s mostly coming from the Tea Party, of which he does not belong. But it is his party that has caused the partisanship and not President Obama, as Ryan asserted. On that front, he’s absolutely incorrect. (And yes, we refuse to compromise on that position.)

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