Partisanship is alive and well

COMMENTARY Political Process

Partisanship is alive and well

Sep 5th, 2008 3 min read

Former Distinguished Fellow

Ernest served as a Distinguished Fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

What politicians say and what they seek are still very often different things.

Even as presidential candidates promote "non-partisanship," the national political parties promote the very opposite in the party platforms adopted by both Democrats and Republicans at their national conventions.

Monitored and sometimes guided by the presidential candidates, the platform committees assembled what is supposed to be the "official" message of what the parties stand for.

Each platform denounces partisanship, yet each platform contains strong condemnations of the other party.

The Republican platform, for example, includes these references:

  1. "The Democrats' naïve thinking that international terrorists could be dealt with within the normal criminal justice system."
  2. "Reform of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was so vital, and ... the Democrats' opposition to it was so wrong."
  3. "National defense was neglected and under-funded by the Clinton administration."
  4. "We flatly reject the Democratic Party's idea that America can succeed in Afghanistan only by failure in Iraq."
  5. "The other party wants more government control over people's lives and earnings; Republicans do not. The other party wants to continue pork barrel politics; we are disgusted by it, no matter who practices it. The other party wants to ignore fiscal problems while squandering billions on ineffective programs; we are determined to end that waste."
  6. "For more than three decades - since enactment of the Budget Act of 1974 by a Democrat-controlled Congress - the federal government has operated within a rigged system notable for its lack of transparency."
  7. "We reject the Democrats' view that judicial nominees should guarantee particular results even before the case is filed."
  8. "We condemn the opposition, by some members of the Democratic Party, to recent judicial nominees because of their ethnicity or religion."
  9. "Today's Democratic Party views the tax code as a tool for social engineering. They use it to control our behavior, steer our choices, and change the way we live our lives."
  10. "The Democratic Party has been clear about its goals: It wants to raise taxes."
  11. "Eight years ago, when Democrats controlled the Executive Branch, small business faced a hostile regulatory agenda."
  12. "The Democrats' approach to employment policy is a retreat to failed models of the past: new regulatory burdens on employers that make it more difficult for businesses, big and small, to hire and keep employees."
  13. "We firmly oppose efforts by Democrats to block the construction of new coal-fired power plants."
  14. "The American people rejected Democrats' attempted government takeover of health care in 1993."
  15. "Unbelievably, the Democratic Party has now pledged to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which would subject every state to the redefinition of marriage by a judge without ever allowing the people to vote on the matter."

The strong language condemning the other side was not, of course, confined to the GOP. As the Democrat platform states:

  1. "We will vigorously enforce our voting rights laws instead of making them tools of partisan political agendas; we oppose laws that require identification in order to vote or register to vote."
  2. "Leadership must begin with steps to undo the damage of the Bush years."
  3. "We come together ... to prevent a third Bush term."
  4. "The Bush administration Department of Labor has failed in its obligation to stand up and protect American workers. The Bush administration is the only administration that has never voluntarily issued a significant final standard for workplace safety."
  5. "We will end the Bush administration's war on science, restore scientific integrity, and return to evidence-based decision-making."
  6. "Reckless, special interest driven corporate loopholes and tax cuts for the wealthy that have been the centerpiece of the Bush administration's economic policy."
  7. "We reject the proposals of those who want to continue on George Bush's disastrous policies. Such leadership must begin with steps to undo the damage of the Bush years."
  8. "The Republican leadership said they would keep us safe, but they overextended our military and failed to respond to new challenges."
  9. "Our vision of a strengthened and improved health care system for all Americans stands in stark contrast to the Republican Party's."
  10. "We reject the notion of the presumptive Republican nominee that Social Security is a disgrace."

Strong words. Harsh words. Words consistent with America's rough-and-tumble political history and traditions.

There is nothing wrong with comparative advertising, and each party shows they're unbashful about it. Yet it's politically correct to decry partisanship. That pretense is evaporating, however, in the heat of the final two months of a red-hot race for president.

Ernest Istook is recovering from serving 14 years in Congress and is now a distinguished fellow at The Heritage Foundation.

First appeared in the WorldNetDaily