Editor’s Note: Zach Silverman is the President of University of Colorado Boulder College Democrats. The opinions expressed herein do not represent the CU Independent or any of its affiliates.
Whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, somewhere in-between or on the fringe, one thing I think we can all agree on is that Washington is decidedly split. Partisanship is at an all-time high. Nearly every federal bill follows a party-line vote, the Senate has not passed a budget in four years, and President Obama’s cabinet nominations can’t even be confirmed because of the filibuster.
The question is: Why is this happening? The reason is because both parties are more interested in winning than getting anything done.
“We have serious problems, and we need serious people to solve them,” fictitious President Andrew Shepard, played by actor Michael Douglas, so eloquently said in “The American President.”
It is time for our representatives in Washington to stop representing their own interests and start representing the American people. It is time that the people who represent us start compromising.
One of the most astounding occurrences on Capitol Hill and cable news networks is their consistent reference to the “framers, founders, and fathers” in regard to what they believed, what they desired, and what they intended for our country. There seems to be an idealistic notion that Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Madison, and Hamilton — some of the most famous founding fathers of the United States — sat in a room over whiskey and tobacco discussing what should be the tenets of our country, and there was full agreement.
When people refer to the “founders,” they seem to forget that there were 13 colonies with individual desires and needs who all had a part in the ratifying of the Constitution. A group of six men who all agreed did not create the Constitution. Rather, it was a large group of over 50 men who all held radically different ideas.
The small states wanted equal representation, but the large states wanted proportional representation. Thus, we have both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The anti-Federalists wanted the least powerful federal government anyone could imagine, while the Federalists wanted a much more powerful central government. This is why we have a Bill of Rights. The Constitution establishes a powerful federal government while the Bill of Rights protects individuals from it. Our country’s founding is based on the idea of compromise. If our legislators truly want to emulate the Founding Fathers, they should think about doing the same.
We have serious problems, and we need serious people to solve them. Social Security is going bankrupt, health care costs are consistently skyrocketing, the chances of getting a job outside of being an engineer are ever-diminishing, and our own environment is deteriorating.
All of these issues need solutions and all the while our Social Security checks are being flushed away, our environment is dying before us, and our legislators are worried about making sure they get elected the next time by being “conservative” or “liberal” enough. Both parties refuse to compromise so they can adhere to party definitions, ensure campaign funding and keep their jobs.
Republicans refuse to invest in green energy because their constituents are coal miners or because they don’t even believe in climate change. Democrats refuse to even consider raising the retirement age in order to make Social Security solvent for us because they answer to the elderly — the most engaged demographic in the country. Heck, it took our country a century to go from the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the Civil Rights Act.
We are never going to get everything we want on the first try, but our generation has a chance to be different. Let’s not worry about winning elections or petty partisan politics, but truly focus on bettering our world by coming together and compromising.
We can’t always going to get exactly what we all want.
Some of us want a flat 20 percent tax and some want a 50 percent tax rate for the wealthiest Americans. Simple math tells us there is a middle ground. Some of us want the government to subsidize green energy and some of us want to let the market eventually bring green energy into the fold. Logic says that we should use government subsidies to offer incentives for individuals to invest in green energy. Some of us want abortion completely outlawed and some of us want unrestricted choice for women’s bodies. Let’s meet at the middle with late-term abortions outlawed except when the mother’s life is in danger.
We have controversial issues all over the place, but until we refuse to let our own ideologies block our practical minds, we will constantly be at each other’s throats looking to destroy each other. Nelson Mandela once said, “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you must work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” If the Founding Fathers could compromise to decide on how to create a country, we are certainly capable of compromising to decide on how to make it better.
Contact College Democrats President Zach Silverman at Zachary.firstname.lastname@example.org.