Wednesday, 19 December 2012 15:59
by Walter Pierce
Former pol rails against partisan politics
Former Congressman Mickey Edwards, R-Okla., speaks Wednesday during the Ind Lecture Series at the Cajundome Convention Center.
Mickey Edwards, the former eight-term Republican congressman from Oklahoma, likens politics in Washington, D.C., to sports, and it isn’t a flattering analogy. “It’s so dysfunctional that it’s not like a group of Americans sitting together trying to solve our problems; it’s more like the NFL. It’s more like the Saints against the Cowboys,” Edwards told a packed Cajundome Convention Center ballroom Wednesday during an Ind Lecture Series luncheon. For more than a half hour Edwards decried the “us versus them” climate in the Beltway, where Republicans and Democrats agree on virtually nothing and virtually nothing gets done on voters’ behalf.
That’s a theme Edwards has been hammering — in newspaper op-eds, as a frequent guest on television and radio news panels, and in his new book, The Parties Vs. the People: How to Turn Republicans and Democrats into Americans.
“Your obligation as a member of the United States Congress is to use your brains, use your experience, gather information so you can make intelligent decisions,” said Edwards, who after leaving Congress in 1993 taught at Harvard and Princeton universities for several years. He’s now a member of the nonprofit Aspen Institute.
His ire over gridlock is directed equally at Democrats and Republicans — “private, power-seeking clubs,” as he would later characterize them during the lecture — and although a card-carrying member of the GOP and a self-professed small-government conservative, he pulled no punches with his own party in one of many references to the U.S. Constitution: “Nowhere in there does it say you should do what your party wants or what your contributors want or what some guy who asks you to sign a pledge wants. I took a pledge. The only pledge I ever took, it was to the Constitution. Anybody who signs a pledge about taxes, about immigration, about abortion... is not fulfilling their obligation to serve the country, and that’s what members [of Congress] do all the time.”
The remedies Edwards prescribes for closing the partisan divide center around mainstreaming Congress by reducing the likelihood of partisan extremists getting elected: by banishing to the dust bin of bad electoral policy the closed party primaries used in most states, which Edwards argues tend to create candidates who represent the political fringes á la Tea Party candidates Sharon Angle and Christine O’Donnell, who defeated mainstream Republicans more likely to compromise with Democrats; by prohibiting the political party that controls a state legislature from controlling congressional redistricting; and by electing a non-partisan House speaker, among other things.
The former congressman’s urgency was palpable in his closing remarks:
We have got to regain control of our government so that the people who are in Washington making these decisions for us really represent the people. And the best decisions they can make with the power of their brains are about what’s best for America, not what’s best for their team.
The fact that we today operate as team against team is why we cannot come together and find common ground on anything. What price do we pay if we can’t? How do we keep our water clean? How do we keep our pharmaceuticals safe? How do we pay our national bills? How do we supply our troops? How do we do the things we would all agree on?
We all agree that there is a purpose in government to do things that we all need done, that we cannot do ourselves. I’m for limited government, but there are things government is required to do, even under our Constitution. And it ain’t gonna happen as long we allow two private, power-seeking clubs to shape our system of government to their own narrow, partisan advantage.
That’s why I say let’s turn Republicans and Democrats into Americans — not that they don’t care about America, but we need to have their decisions made not to help them and their team but to help run the country that we all love.
To post a comment, please log into your IND account. If you do not have an account, click the "register" button to create one. Facebook comments can be used as an alternative to creating an account at theIND.com.
SEP 2 North Carolina's film tax incentive is about to expire, and Louisiana is getting the first benefit, this story on the Wilmington NC newspaper's website tells us. 'Banshee,' a Cinemax series from the same guy who created 'True Blood,' is moving production to New Orleans, the story says.
SEP 2 The Washington Post calls Bobby Jindal on his latest effort to get his name in the national media. In this editorial, the newspaper says Jindal's Common Core lawsuits are just aimed at "burnishing his conservative credentials for a presidential run." The paper, of course, reminds its readers that Jindal was a staunch supporter of the curriculum back when he first brought it to Louisiana.
SEP 2 Huff Post takes a look at a project by a California university which mapped hate speech on Twitter. The project counted derogatory words for homosexuals, people of different races and people with disabilities, then used colors to show where the tweets using these words originated. Spoiler alert: We don't look too good.
SEP 2 Blogger Lamar White Jr. offers this commentary on Bobby Jindal's recent comments about the current US policy toward ISIS. Jindal's sudden, shrill interest in the subject can only be attributed to his desperate desire to be president, Lamar opines. All this begs the question: Do we really want someone in the White House who is willing to say anything to get what he wants?
SEP 2 St. Mary Parish homegirl Julie Hébert lets us in on the next step in her career in this blog post. The writer/director, who has worked on shows like ER, West Wing, Numb3rs and Third Watch, has teamed up with John Ridley, the Academy Award winning screenwriter of 12 Years a Slave, for a new ABC series that will be filmed in Austin.
SEP 2 Here's another round of crazy on the Scott Rogers shooting from the Advocate. The Baton Rouge television personality was killed last week by his son-in-law (and alleged sexual abuse victim) who then turned the gun on himself. The story gets worse and worse.
SEP 2 This post on Deadline Hollywood outlines the massive tax incentive package passed by the California legislature last week. As one California solon put it, the move is a response to years of seeing movie and TV work "cannibalized by states and other countries poaching tens of thousands of good California jobs." Hey -- is he talking about us?
SEP 2 This photo essay on the NOLA Femmes blog examines homelessness in New Orleans. There are pictures of familiar intersections which look very different during tourist events than they do no a normal day in the city, and an account of the issue since Katrina. The post makes a good point: When the city rousts homeless people the day before a tourist event but calls it a "health issue," the claim rings false, doesn't it?
AUG 29 Everyone who cares about Louisiana should take time to peruse this story about coastal loss from Bob Marshall of The Lens. It's not enough to call it a story; it's an interactive experience packed with data and amazing graphics, timelines, history, photos and excellent writing. Set aside some time, because you can't go through this one in a few minutes.
AUG 29 Huffington Post has a blog called Love Letters, which is grandly described as "an anthology of reflections on places the world over." This entry is from LSU Football Coach Les Miles, who, it appears, loves Baton Rouge. (Of course he does; he's a rich straight white man.) And certainly Baton Rouge loves him - unless he loses (ask Curley "Golden Flake" Hallman about that) or leaves (ask Nick Saban).
AUG 29 This story by WVLA tells us about a guy who got busted for speeding in Baton Rouge. Who cares? This guy took that infraction to new heights by going 129 miles per hour on Nicholson Drive. Poor fella - he probably has spent so much time sitting in Baton Rouge traffic he just had to cut lose.
Read the Flipping Paper!
Click Here for the Entire Print Version of IND Monthly