Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Reaching Across the Divide

A new administration carries with it promises, and the hopes of the people of this country. Unfortunately, in the recent past, partisan bickering has left the public disillusioned with their leaders, and all-too-willing to throw up their hands in disgust, as the politicians preen and posture.

Today the country faces a wide range of problems, abroad as well as here at home. Much of it seems dwarfed by our collapsing economy---for which there are any number of villains, and lots of blame to go around. But today, President Obama headed up to Capitol Hill for a meeting with the opposition leaders and Republicans on the Hill---a Republicans-only meeting with the Democratic president, a gesture of reconciliation that could be a harbinger of a new era of bipartisan cooperation, or a well-intentioned but naive way station on the return trip to business as usual.

Obama seems to be entering office with more good will and high hopes than any president I can remember. Even Reagan---who also entered office facing both economic and foreign policy challenges, and also succeeded a predecessor widely considered a complete and utter failure---confronted a larger group of skeptics, and more cynical media scrutiny. Like Reagan, the country wants---and, frankly, needs---Obama to be a great success, so he has a lot of political capital, and the public will be willing to cut him a great deal of slack in dealing with our problems.

But just as Reagan succeeded in appealing to moderate Democrats to win approval for what he wanted to do, Obama must peel off moderate Republicans from the Troglodyte Right if he wants to build a real governing coalition that will last past the next mid-term election. Today, the public is so fed up with the partisan bickering of both parties that the next major realignment will come about when one party finally stands up to its own lunatic fringe and reaches out to claim the large majority of more-or-less sensible people in the middle---those who are looking for solutions rather than ideological purity. There are a lot of people like that throughout the country...sick and tired of being ignored by the ideologues.

JEFFREY CAMINSKY, a veteran public prosecutor in Detroit, Michigan, specializes in the appellate practice of criminal law and writes on a wide range of topics. His books include the science fiction adventure novel The Star Dancers, the exciting second volume in the Guardians of Peace-tm series, The Sonnets of William Shakespeare, and the acclaimed Referee’s Survival Guide, a book on soccer officiating. All are published by New Alexandria Press, and are available on Amazon, as well as directly from the publisher.

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