Category Archives: bipartisanship

Blame Game

The problem with our economy continuing to drag its feet is that conservatives blame President Obama and the Democrats’ “liberal policies.” Liberals blame those same people, but for policies they say tilt too far to the right: in the interest of “bipartisanship,” they capitulate to failed conservative ideas like deregulation and tax cuts.

So who is right? If only we had some unbiased, reliable source of information, some kind of professional fact-checkers, people whose job it is to talk to experts, not partisans. You know, maybe present the facts! Ahem.

Instead, we have a group of people whose only interest is in telling the process story, the inside scoop: who’s winning and who’s losing the power play? Is Speaker Boehner losing his influence? Will President Obama lose re-election? Is the debt deal a victory for President Obama and the Democrats? Is it a victory for the Tea Party?

I mean, look. If real liberals are constantly getting thrown under the bus every time there’s a legislative battle in Washington — the economic stimulus, healthcare reform, extending the Bush tax cuts — then why is it always our fault when nothing gets better?

Democracy doesn’t work if the people are uninformed. And our traditional information source no longer performs that function (did it ever? I don’t know. I think the media certainly did a much better job of things once upon a time. Not perfect, but not .. this.) So what are Americans to do? If we can’t turn to the news media, where do we go? Must it take a judge to decide?

Kay at Balloon Juice has this item up today in which former Ohio Representative Steve Driehaus sued the anti-choice Susan B. Anthony List for defamation after the SBA List ran ads saying Driehaus voted for taxpayer-funded abortions. Driehaus happens to be an anti-choice Democrat and he didn’t take too kindly to having his healthcare reform vote characterized as such, especially since the Affordable Care Act does no such thing. On top of which, Driehaus lost his seat, thanks no doubt to the lies spread by groups like the SBA List. The judge agreed that the Affordable Care Act did not call for taxpayer funded abortions in any way and cleared the way for Driehaus’ suit to move forward.

Kay wonders why this case even had to get to a judge. Good question.

We’ve all wondered why, for example, the lies about death panels and taxpayer-funded abortions and “government takeover of healthcare” were never countered in the press. You had right wingers spouting their nonsense, liberals sputtering “no it does not do that!”, and then, of course, that’s all the time we have, we’ll have to leave it there, yada yada. Why couldn’t someone, somewhere, read the damn bill, conclude that there are no death panels, no taxpayer funded abortions and certainly no government takeovers of anything, and the next time some yahoo tries to claim big mean ol’ Obama will decide if grandma gets to live or die, they tell them to shut the fuck up? Why is that so hard?

Politics has just destroyed everything, chief among them, our media. Democrats will always get blamed for everything because the rules of modern political discourse are, a) IOKIYAR and, b) it’s always good news for Republicans. So when Democrats capitulate to conservatives, and those conservative ideas fail again (no one could have anticipated! Really!), everyone says, well the Democrats were in charge, so there ya go! And they have a really good point.

If Democrats are going to dump every good and decent and proven Democratic idea of the past 80 years and hop on board with free market fairy tales and the miraculous job-creating power of tax cuts, well then you deserve what you get. Until our media wakes up and starts telling people facts, not spin — and there’s no indication that this will happen any time soon — Democrats will continue to get blamed for everything, whether they’re in charge or not.

During the debt ceiling debate I heard Republicans blame the national debt on the “Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid congress” and President Obama. Sure because those wars and the unfunded Medicare prescription drug giveaway to Big Pharma never happened! And on the left there’s a lot of disgust because we did have a majority in Congress, and what did we get for it? It’s like people have forgotten all of those filibusters, the long hard slog to get Sen. Al Franken seated, the deaths of Senators Kennedy and Byrd, the “60 is the new 50″ crap we went through these past years. It’s been one Republican obstructionist hardball tactic after another, pushing Democrats ever further to the right, peeling away DINOs like Joe Lieberman (who, let’s face it, isn’t even a Democrat anymore, he’s a Lieberman) or Ben Nelson on one issue after another. We’ve all written about it. Have we forgotten?

But the Democrats need to wake up, already: you can be pragmatic and “bipartisan” all you want but if an idea stinks, it stinks. And you’re the ones who will get the blame. Always. It doesn’t matter what the facts say: you will get blamed.

I don’t really have a point here. I’m just wondering if there aren’t there any principled Democrats left — or is such a thing even possible absent a news media that refuses to do its job?

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Filed under bipartisanship, Democratic Party, healthcare, media, Republican Party

How’s That Divided Government Thing Working For Ya?

Remember back before the 2008 national elections, all those people who agreed John McCain was an idiot and the Republicans were irresponsible, but the only reason they couldn’t vote for Barack Obama and the Democrats was because they supported “divided government”? Remember that?

It was another piece of conventional wisdom touted by the right when they were in the minority (and the left pre-2006), and repeated as fact by the folks at CNN and the New York Times. You heard it from folks like this guy from the Cato Institute and this guy from the Brookings Institute. It was one of John McCain’s “closing arguments” before the 2008 election, and it was the main argument going into the 2010 midterms.

It’s a favorite piece of conventional wisdom among Villagers who love to talk about the wonders of centrism and Third Way politics. And for anyone who sees the world as it actually is, not how they wished it were, it’s a load of horse shit.

Here’s why Americans supposedly like divided government:

In Mode 2 — divided government — the dynamic is reversed. Both parties, responsible for governing, have a stake in success. Forced to negotiate and compromise, they drag policy toward the center, allowing moderates to feel represented instead of ignored. Most important, the country itself becomes more governable and meaningful laws stand a likelier chance of passage, because neither side can easily blame the other for whatever is wrong and because any major legislation needs support from both parties to pass.

I’m sorry, but what world are you people living in? The current Congress is on track to become the least productive ever, at a time when the country is facing some of its most enormous challenges ever. At a time when we can least afford gridlock, that’s exactly what we’ve got. We need our elected representatives to come together and solve the many crises our nation is facing, but instead of forcing both sides to come together in a spirit of compromise, “divided government” has resulted in Republican bully tactics. They’ve held up judicial nominations, creating a crisis on our federal courts, and they’re playing a game of chicken with the debt ceiling (despite the fact that they raised the debt ceiling 19 times under George W. Bush). They’re suddenly peacenkiks and running fast and furiously away from every good idea they ever had — like cap-and-trade, originally a free-market, conservative idea.

Here’s what divided government has done for us:

And so the legislative trickle has slowed to a drip. From January until the end of May, the last date for which comparable statistics are available, 16 bills had become law — compared with 50 during that period last year, or 28 in 2007, also a time of divided government.

Some folks tried to sound the alarm about the faulty “divided government” logic, namely by using the State of California as an example:

Far from confounding the parties, divided government has enabled them to adhere to dogma. Democrats have succeeded at increasing spending and Republicans at holding down revenue, with credit and con games making up the difference. The result: the state budget, signed 10 days back by Mr Schwarzenegger, may not last the month. On Thursday the governor wrote Hank Paulson with an urgent request for $7 billion, without which the state may not be able to pay its bills in the short-term.

Like Mr McCain, Mr Schwarzenegger campaigned as a centrist who could check the ambitions of a Democratic legislature with the strength of his personality and principles. A President McCain might do better with a Democratic legislature than Governor Schwarzenegger has, but a Republican identity and fearsomeness don’t guarantee that he will.

I’m sure as the 2012 election heats up we’ll be hearing more about the glories of “divided government,” but I’d like to nip this crap in the bud right away. We’re divided enough as it is. Can we please stop acting like America of 2011 is the same as America of 2001, 1991 or 1981? It’s a new world. Divided government does nothing but further entrench both parties. If you don’t want anything to get done, if you don’t want to see progress as the nation slowly spirals down the economic drain and becomes a Third World country, then by all means stick with the “divided government” meme.

Alternately, you can hand the governing of this country over to one party or the other, whichever party you are more ideologically aligned with. If you think the policies that drove this country into the ditch in the first place — lower taxes on millionaires, increased taxes on working classes, deregulation to allow more abusive practices letting corporate giants run roughshod over the people in the interest of lining the pockets of the few — well by all means turn the country over to the Republicans again.

Right now, Republicans are more conservative than Democrats are liberal. That’s just a fact. The Democrats are far from perfect. But if you believe millionaires should pay at least something approximating their fair share of taxes, and corporations have a responsibility not just to their shareholders and the bottom line but to the nation itself and should pay for the privilege of operating in America, and if you think government has a viable role to play in setting policies that benefit the people because the free hand of the market has failed to do so, well then let’s hand the government over to the Democrats and see what they can do.

The alternative is to sit with our thumbs up our asses while both sides hurl insults at each other and no one does anything about the giant train wrecks headed our way.

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Filed under 2012 presidential election, bipartisanship, Congress, politics

>The Grand Plan

>Well I found this to be extremely interesting:

One old trick is to suggest a thought experiment that asks readers to consider the mirror image of what is going on. In this case, you’d be asked what the reaction would be from Republicans and business interests if a newly elected Democratic governor and legislature proposed to deal with a budget deficit by first raising unemployment benefits and then pushing through a big corporate tax increase for all but the Democratic-leaning tech sector. For good measure, the package would also contain a ban on corporations making political donations without getting the permission of each shareholder, lest they use their power to repeal the tax increase and push the budget out of balance.

I love a good analogy. Remember: the plutocrats went nuts when the Democrats passed very modest healthcare reform — something President Obama campaigned on, I might add (whereas Walker did not campaign on destroying unions’ bargaining power). It was nothing close to the extremism on display in our state legislatures around the country but good lord they squealed like stuck pigs. Let’s remember the town brawls and Teanuts with guns and the member of Congress hung in effigy and another member of Congress nearly killed by a gunman at a public event.

More:

This is analogous, of course, to what Gov. Scott Walker has proposed for dealing with Wisconsin’s budget gap: the tax breaks for businesses, the benefit cuts for all state employees except Republican-leaning police and firefighters, the automatic decertification of all public-sector unions and the stripping of their right to bargain anything but wages. Looking at Walker’s reflection in the political fun-house mirror makes it abundantly clear that the governor has a more ambitious agenda than merely closing a modest budget gap.

Well duh. That’s what we’ve all been saying, for days now. That was why I transcribed that part of Walker’s phone call with Fake David Koch where he talks about the other governors he says were elected “to do something big.”

[Elected by whom? You really think the voters elected you to destroy unions? Was that what the November elections were about? I don’t think so. Elected by Koch Industries to do so? Yeah. That's more probable.]

Anyway, for more on that ambitious agenda, today’s must read is Mike Konczal‘s “Conservative Road Map for State Governance”. Konczal lays it all out for you (here is where I give a hat-tip to E.D. Kain at Balloon Juice) and if anyone harbors any delusions that this has squat to do with state finances or budgets or anything other than a blatant power grab and transfer of wealth from the public to corporate interests, well, this should disabuse you of such notions post-haste:

There’s a three-prong approach in Governor Walker’s plan that highlights a blueprint for conservative governorship after the 2010 election. The first is breaking public sector unions and public sector workers generally. The second is streamlining benefits away from legislative authority, especially for health care and in fighting the Health Care Reform Act. The third is the selling of public assets to private interests under firesale and crony capitalist situations.

This is, as has been noted elsewhere, the industrialist’s wet dream. It took them a while, but finally they have a chance to turn the clock back … not to the 1950s, when the top marginal tax rate was over 90% GOD NO we can’t have that, but back to 1900. The era of the Robber Barons and industrialists. The “gilded age” when folks like Andrew Carnegie and John Pierpont Morgan ruled. And also the era of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, and no minimum wage and child labor. You know, the good ol’ days.

This is what this fight is about.

This is what we DFH’s have been saying … for years. I’m not joking, we’ve been talking about this on blogs and in lefty magazines like The Nation and Mother Jones and other places where the mushy-middle pragmatic centrist “Third Way” approach is generally regarded to be bullshit because the modern right’s agenda is extreme! And they don’t give a crap about bipartisanship.

Wake up, people! Once upon a time we could disagree without being disagreeable and there could be some issues where everyone could find common ground. Those days passed a long, long time ago. Hell, none other than Republican Christie Todd Whitman noticed the shift toward extremism in the Republican Party when she penned ”It’s My Party, Too!” And we lefties have been warning for years that as the Republicans get more extreme, and the Democrats bend over backwards to make concessions in the interest of “bi-partisanship” they are moving the country futher to the right and basically enabling an extreme agenda.

And here is where we are.

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Filed under bipartisanship, Gov. Scott Walker, Tea Party, Wisconsin Protests

>At Long Last Bipartisanship?

>While our illustrious news media wallows in the glow of bipartisanship they say passage of the Senate jobs bill represents, I counter it highlights how bad partisan gridlock in Washington truly is.

First, from the Los Angeles Times:

More notable, perhaps, than the bill itself was the fact that 13 Republicans crossed party lines to vote for it. The $15-billion bill passed by a 70-28 tally.

The bill would grant employers a “holiday” on their 6.2% Social Security payroll contribution for every new employee hired through the rest of the year, as long as that employee has been out of work for at least 60 days. It would also make it easier for businesses to write off equipment purchases and would extend federal highway and mass-transit funding programs.

This is a tax cut bill. Since when are we doing double back-flips over the fact that 13 Republicans voted for tax cuts?

Hey, Republicans: I thought you people hated taxes! That’s all we ever hear every time you folks open your mouths: “tax cuts tax cuts tax cuts.” Okay, the Democrats gave you your damn tax cuts. And only 13 of you voted for it? What the hell is wrong with you?

Even worse:

Eight Republicans who Monday didn’t support a procedural motion to proceed with the jobs bill switched sides Wednesday to support it, including Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) Thad Cochran (Miss.), Orrin Hatch (Utah), and Richard Burr (R-N.C.). Hatch was a co-author, along with Schumer, of the payroll tax provision in the bill.

Yes that’s right, our own Sen. Lamar Alexander ended up voting for a bill he tried to block two days ago. Holy flip-flop!

And our grand wanker of the day prize goes to Orrin Hatch, a co-author of the bill, who tried to filibuster it on Monday, then voted for it on Wednesday. Yes that’s right, Orrin Hatch tried to filibuster his own tax cuts which he ended up voting for anyway.

This is the glorious “bipartisanship” we’re celebrating?

Feh.

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Filed under bipartisanship, Sen. Lamar Alexander, Sen. Orrin Hatch

>Why There’s No Bipartisanship

>Today YLF observes that Republicans have made zero concessions on any legislation, whereas Democrats continue to water down bill after bill in a vain hope for “bipartisanship.”

This is a complaint liberals have been making for years now, ever since 2007 when the purple bipartisan fairies started flying around Congress promising peace and humptiness and ponies forever, if only we could all work together. Problem is, Republicans don’t budge, Democrats fold like lawnchairs, and the legislation we get is Republican in policy with a Democratic label attached to it. The result is Democrats look like Republicans and voters wonder what the difference between the two parties is. How this is supposed to help the Democratic Party is beyond me.

I normally don’t watch the Sunday bobblehead shows, but Mr. Beale had Meet The Press on yesterday morning (until my yelling at the television caused him to turn the TV off, that is).

Here’s the part that I saw:

REP. BOEHNER:  Well, I’ll give you an example.  Last year I told the president, you know, what–when we can be with you and when we agree with you, we will stand tall with you, as we did on Afghanistan, as we did on Iraq, as we did on things like teacher quality and a number of other areas.

Umm … I don’t think Rep. Boehner knows what “bipartisan” means. Standing with the president when you agree with him, oooh that’s really bold. Of course, this is a feature not a bug of Republican politicians, as I’ve observed before here (to the point where one “Republican strategist” even noted that if a healthcare bill is supported by Olympia Snowe “it’s not really bipartisan”).

And then there’s the second part of the Republican strategy that I think is really the key problem: robotically repeating lies about Democratic legislation to basically poison the discourse, making real bipartisanship impossible. I return to yesterday’s transcript, and Rep. Boehner’s quote:

But when it comes to, when it comes to health care, we could agree on a some commonsense steps to make our healthcare system work better.  But we are not going to put the government in charge of people’s health care. And, and it, it’s something that there’s a fundamental difference here. And most of America has already said no to this big government takeover.

Rep. Boehner referred to a “big government takeover of health care” or “government-run health care” six times in under two minutes. David Gregory never once called him on it.

It’s not true, not even close to true–believe me, I wish it were (I wrote about this back in November, for anyone who wants to know what “government run healthcare” really looks like). Yet Boehner delivered his Frank Luntz-approved “big government” mantra over and over and over again, like the good Republibot he is. It’s completely intentional, this repeating of scary words: repetition of certain key phrases and words is a Republican tactic to get their message ensconced in the public’s mind. I don’t know why Democrats never call them on it, but they don’t.

And I realize this is not news. We’ve all written about these framing tactics, how Republicans are instructed to repeat certain Frank Luntz-approved words in every television appearance until they are heard so often, people like David Gregory don’t even notice any more. Before long the Republican talking point becomes firmly ensconced in the American lexicon and a talking point is accepted as fact.

President Obama called the Republicans on this very tactic in his Q&A last week. It’s very telling that despite that, Rep. Boehner continued to do it, and David Gregory continued to ignore it.

Continuing with this tactic of mischaracterizing Democratic initiatives as super-scary far left Communist/Socialist fringe ideas basically assures us that bipartisanship will never, ever happen. Because when one party so thoroughly demonizes the other party’s ideas as something dangerous to the Republic, you’ve basically made it impossible for members of your own caucus to support anything from the other side.

In other words: when you repeatedly refer to a healthcare bill that is a giveaway to big insurance companies as “a government takeover of healthcare,” then you have made it impossible for an Olympia Snowe to support it. And they’ve also made it impossible for Blue Dog Democrats to support it, because the meme has been so thoroughly ensconced in the public’s mind that the lie has become fact.

Again: I do not understand why Democrats did not call Republicans on this “government takeover of health care” lie (or any of the other lies they’ve propagated, for that matter). President Obama finally called the Republicans on this last week but it should have been done at the very beginning of this debate. Because if you really want bipartisanship, you need to first agree on the facts. There can be no bipartisanship when you can’t even agree on the basic facts at hand.

I don’t know where this leaves us. I think voters are thoroughly sick of gridlock and partisan bickering, but waving a purple wand is not going to happen, either. The problems are bigger than just getting a couple Republican votes on a bill, or getting a couple of Republican ideas on a Democratic bill. The ways the parties operate has to change.

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Filed under bipartisanship, healthcare, media

>Moving The Bar

>This morning on MSNBC I heard Tripp Baird, a “Republican strategist,” say that if there’s a “bipartisan” healthcare bill supported by Olympia Snowe, “it’s not really bipartisan.”

Jeebus.

So now, according to a “Republican strategist,” a healthcare bill with the support of a moderate Republican isn’t bipartisan. Well, Sen. Snowe, you might as well just leave the Republican Party right now because, apparently, they’ve just dumped you. Your vote doesn’t count in the “bipartisan” score-keeping.

Is anyone in the Democratic Party paying attention to this crap? In the quest for the Holy Grail of “bipartisanship,” that elusive pot of gold at the end of the political rainbow, the Republicans keep moving the bar. In other words, Democrats, you are tilting at windmills. It will never happen.

There will never be a “bipartisan” bill because the Republican Party does not want healthcare reform, period. They keep moving the bar. Now, for something to be “bipartisan” it has to have the support of the fringe wackos who will never, ever support Democratic Party policies because their entire raison d’etre is to oppose the Democratic Party. Are you following me here?

The fringe wackos think President Obama will put his voodoo laser-lock mind-magic on school children, turning them into Socialist zombies in a 20 minute speech. The fringe wackos think President Obama isn’t really a citizen and therefore is illegitimate. The fringe wackos believe a government-backed option competing alongside private health insurance is somehow government control over your healthcare.

You want “bipartisanship” with these folks? No, I don’t think so.

Monica Novotny asked Baird if there was any healthcare bill the Republicans would support. Baird basically said no. Insurance co-ops, he said, are basically “public option light.” Olympia Snowe’s support isn’t really bipartisan.

In other words, there simply will not be any Republican support for healthcare reform. They’ve been asked and their answer is “NO!”

I hope the Democrats are listening.

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Filed under bipartisanship, healthcare, MSNBC, Republican Party

>Memory Hole, “Bipartisan” Edition

>Bipartisanship, Tennessee Republican style:

At a stop in Nashville today, Lankford says congress has become too polarized and he’d like to work in a bi-partisan fashion. But he says that only goes so far.

“Well I’d certainly like to work with any of them that work with our ideology. I’m not willing to compromise our values and to me, unfortunately, that is what Lincoln has done. He’ll talk about his values and he’ll say for instance, ‘I’m pro-life,’ but he goes to Washington and votes for Nancy Pelosi which totally knocks him out of the ability to push that agenda.”

Guffaw.

Look, I’m all for “bipartisanship” as long as everyone remembers that we saw precious little of it over the past eight years, when the Republicans basically told Democrats to suck on it since they are in charge.

That’s fine, but now there’s a new sheriff in town and he’s got a big ol’ mess to clean up, thanks to that very same “bipartisan” posse that is calling for the whaaaaambulance today. Look, you lost. We’ll work with any of you all who will work with our ideology. And you don’t even have to call it “bipartisanship,” how ’bout that? You can call it learning from the failed policies of the past.

Mack is right. Dems wouldn’t be called “spineless” if they didn’t act that way all the time. Come on, guys. You really did get a fucking mandate.

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I Don’t Think “Bipartisan” Means What He Thinks It Means

I rarely blog about Tennessee politics, especially those races where I don’t even live in the district. However, this snippet from WPLN’s interview with Monty Lankford , one of the Republicans vying for Democrat Lincoln Davis’ Congressional seat, struck me as emblematic of Republican attitudes:

At a stop in Nashville today, Lankford says congress has become too polarized and he’d like to work in a bi-partisan fashion. But he says that only goes so far.

Well I’d certainly like to work with any of them that work with our ideology. I’m not willing to compromise our values and to me, unfortunately, that is what Lincoln has done. He’ll talk about his values and he’ll say for instance, ‘I’m pro-life,’ but he goes to Washington and votes for Nancy Pelosi which totally knocks him out of the ability to push that agenda.”

Okay, Monty, honey, I know you are new to politics but let me explain to you what “bipartisan” means. It does not mean Democrats must come around to the Republican way of thinking and do everything that the Republicans say (or, for that matter, vice versa). It does mean both parties working together, each side offering compromises, to achieve goals beneficial to both party’s constituents.

But don’t take my word for it. Here is Wiki’s definition:

In a two-party system (such as in the United States), bipartisan refers to any bill, act, resolution, or any other action of a political body in which both of the major political parties are in agreement. Often, compromises are called bipartisan if they reconcile the desires of both parties from an original version of legislation or other proposal. Failure to attain bipartisan support in such a system can easily lead to gridlock, often angering each other and their constituents.

Bipartisanship can also be between two opposite groups (e.g. liberal and conservative) to agree and determine a plan of action on an urgent matter that is of great importance to their voters.

Some key words worth remembering here are agreement, compromise, and reconciliation.

This is not how our Congress works anymore. For the past 15 years, Republican “bipartisanship” has meant Democrats shut up and Republicans do whatever they want. Even now, with Democrats holding an oh-so-slim majority in the Senate, “60 is the new 50”; Republicans threaten to fillibuster anything and everything, and gridlock is the rule.

And it all goes back to that basic idea that Monty Lankford expressed yesterday: bipartisan is great, as long as you do what I want, my way. Democrats, on the other hand, continually piss off liberal bloggers and lefty activists by their willingness to compromise our values in the interest of keeping legislation moving (yes, even I have been angered by some of our Democrats in Congress). A perfect example is the many compromises Senate Dems have made on the Iraq War.

So if you want gridlock, people, keep voting Republican.

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Filed under bipartisanship, Monty Lankford, Tennessee politics

>Clean Your Own House

>There’s been a lot of discussion about bipartisanship lately; I got into a discussion (okay, mostly it was me ranting) over at Sharon Cobb’s place yesterday with someone pleading for an end to partisan divisiveness. There’s even been mention of it in comment threads here.

It’s just really hard to take these pleas for unity seriously when conservatives play the same old games and pull crap like this:

The Tennessee Republican Party has chosen this occasion to diminish Dr. King’s message of peace, hope, and equality and instead use it to score political points.

From their weekly message:

It was the Democrats who fought to keep blacks in slavery and passed the discriminatory Black Codes and Jim Crow laws. The Democrats started the Ku Klux Klan to lynch and terrorize blacks. The Democrats fought to prevent the passage of every civil rights law beginning with the civil rights laws of the 1860′s, and continuing with the civil rights laws of the 1950′s and 1960′s.

[..]

Today, Democrats, in pursuit of their socialist agenda, are fighting to keep blacks poor, angry and voting for Democrats. Examples of how egregiously Democrats act to keep blacks in poverty are numerous.

You know, liberals have been getting kicked in the teeth by an elephant for at least the past 10 years, and as the above example proves, the right is still dishing it out. This goes further back than the Clinton impeachment, and continues today with such blatant examples as Jonah Goldberg’s fact-light book calling liberals and liberalism “fascist.” (And that is almost a complement compared to what Ann Coulter has said about us in her books: Godless, Slander, and Treason.) The Republicans in Congress have been more obstructionist and threatened more filibusters than in any other period in modern Congressional history (Digby wrote the definitive post on this back in December), prompting “unifiers” like Trent Lott to gloat: “The strategy of being obstructionist can work or fail … and so far it’s working for us.”

Apparently when liberals defend themselves against such absurd things, it’s divisive and partisan. But doing these absurd things, well, that’s okay. I just don’t get that.

Look, I’m just as sick of living in these Divided States as the next person, but I don’t think any of this is anything new. Partisan sniping has been part of politics forever. In 1952 presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson uttered one of my all-time favorite quotes on the campaign trail: “I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends… that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them.”

You think a line like that comes during a campaign of unity, hugs and kisses?

People are tired of the “lack of civility” in our public discourse I get that. I’m tired of it too. But these pleas from the right for Democrats to put aside partisanship for the good of the country just sound an awful lot like “shut up!” when the GOP and its henchmen in outter wingnuttia keep dishing out the mud.

Don’t tell us not to complain “in the spirit of unity” when the Tennessee GOP calls us racists and blames us for oppressing minorities, just in time for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We have every right to be offended.

Instead, get on the phone and call the TN GOP office and tell them you don’t think it honors Dr. King’s legacy to use him as a partisan tool. Threaten to withhold donations. Tell them to cut it out, “for the good of the country.”

How does that sound? If people really want unity, if people really want an end to partisan sniping, then let each side demand it from themselves first.

Because otherwise, all you’re doing is telling the other side to shut up. And that’s not in the spirit of unity, is it?

(h/t, Tennessee Views)

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Filed under bipartisanship, TNGOP