One of the things that I dislike about the Tea Party is their punishing of any Republican who works with Democrats or who deviates in any way from their conservative philosophy. I don’t understand how they could do this and complain about a lack of bipartisanship. I think this sort of obstructionism is bad for the political climate and plays a large part in the bitter partisan climate in our country today. Recently Congressman Eric Cantor was voted out of office by Tea Party members who were angry at Cantor’s willingness to compromise on immigration reform. Senator Bill Bennett of Utah and Senator Dick Lugar of Indiana are two other examples of conservative Republicans who were defeated in Republican primaries by Tea Party voters who favored more partisan candidates. In a May 8, 2012 Huffington Post article by Michael McCauliff, the article describes the difference between Lugar and Richard Mourdock, the candidate who defeated Lugar in the Republican primaries:
Mourdock’s heated rhetoric offered a sharp contrast to a low-key concession by Lugar, who refused to retreat from the idea of working with the other side, implicitly criticizing his rival.
“Serving the people of Indiana in the United States Senate has been the greatest honor of my public life. Hoosiers deserve the best representation possible,” an emotional Lugar said. “They deserve legislators who will listen to their entire spectrum of citizen views and work to achieve consensus. They deserve legislators who each day go to work thinking about how they can solve problems.”
Lugar seemed acutely aware that the right wing of his party had turned its no-surrender approach on him.
“We are experiencing deep political divisions in our society right now, and these divisions have stalemated progress in critical areas,” Lugar said, using a line that Democrats are likely to repeat going into the fall. “But these divisions are not insurmountable and I believe that people of goodwill, regardless of party, can work together for the benefit of our country.”
While Lugar was gracious in his speech, he released a statement that was far sharper:
“If Mr. Mourdock is elected, I want him to be a good senator. But that will require him to revise his stated goal of bringing more partisanship to Washington. He and I share many positions, but his embrace of an unrelenting partisan mindset is irreconcilable with my philosophy of governance and my experience of what brings results for Hoosiers in the Senate. In effect, what he has promised in this campaign is reflexive votes for a rejectionist orthodoxy and rigid opposition to the actions and proposals of the other party. His answer to the inevitable roadblocks he will encounter in Congress is merely to campaign for more Republicans who embrace the same partisan outlook. He has pledged his support to groups whose prime mission is to cleanse the Republican party of those who stray from orthodoxy as they see it.”
The great liberal legislative achievements of the past few decades were accomplished when liberal Democrats were able to work with Republicans in finding common ground. Without moderate Republicans to collaborate with who share some common ground with liberal and moderate Democrats, there is no way to accomplish any Democratic goals in Congress. The past few years have shown that there is almost no common ground between liberal and moderate Democrats and Tea Party Republicans, and that is the main cause of the gridlock in Congress. Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson and even Bill Clinton had the benefit of dealing with a Republican Party that had a greater diversity of liberal, moderate and conservative Republicans. For the past few years, the Tea Party Republicans have tried to purge the Republican Party of moderate Republicans and create a more uniform ideological conservative party. I dread the November elections, where many experts predict that the Republicans will take the majority of the Senate.
In spite of Tea Party rhetoric, liberal Democrats have had a long history of collaborating with Republicans on liberal laws that have had a great benefit to this country. They have shown that government can be a positive force for this country. Here are some examples of liberals collaborating with Republicans on laws that have benefitted this country.
Liberal Democrat President Lyndon was able to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when he was able to cobble a coalition of liberal Democrats and moderate and liberal Republicans that overcame the opposition of segregationist Democrats and conservative Republicans.
Liberal Democrat Ted Kennedy worked with his friend, conservative Republican Orrin Hatch, in passing the American With Disabilities Act in 1990 over the opposition of business interests worried about the burdens the act might have on businesses.
Here is a video of Victoria Kennedy accepting the AIDS Memorial Grove Award on behalf of her husband Ted Kennedy. Liberal Senator Ted Kennedy collaborated again with his friend, conservative Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, to pass the Ryan White Act over the opposition of Jessie Helms and conservative Christian Republicans who felt that AIDS was God’s punishment against gays and lesbians
Liberal Democrat Senator Birch Bayh collaborated with conservative Republican Bob Dole in passing the Patent and Trademark Law Amendments Act, better known as the Bayh Dole Act, in 1980. This law allowed a university, small business, or non-profit institution to elect to pursue ownership of an invention made with federal funding. This allowed universities to give private industries use of their inventions so that society as a whole could benefit from the university’s inventions.
Liberal Democrat Senator Birch Bayh collaborated with Republicans like Senator Robert Griffin to pass Title IX in 1972, which increased educational opportunities and athletic participation for American women on college campuses.
Liberal Democrat Ted Kennedy collaborate with friend conservative Republican Orrin Hatch on the Serve America Act in 2009