This week has been a bit of a political and emotional rollercoaster. It started hopeful. I was amazed to see so many Americans coming together, despite party lines, to voice their concerns about the confirmation of Betsy DeVos. Here in Florida, an unprecedented number of people called, wrote letters, and attempted to contact our Senator Marco Rubio. Sadly, Senator Rubio seemed uninterested in hearing the concerns of his constituency. Despite Rubio’s full voicemail, closed (and policed) offices, dismissal of his constituents as paid protesters, and acceptance of $98,000 from DeVos, I remained naively hopeful. I thought, “how could he possibly ignore this?” So many people, Republican and Democrat alike, voiced concern. Of course, I was wrong. In the end Rubio, like almost all of his counterparts, was unwilling to cross party lines and listen to the people he is supposed to represent.
This, the staunch adherence to party politics over the wishes and welfare of the people our elected officials represent, is what scares me most right now. Our current partisan politics are destructive and unsustainable. Even George Washington saw this coming:
“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”
Bottom line, “we the people” should be more important than party politics. Representatives are elected to represent the will of the governed, not to further a party’s agenda. Partisan rigidity has been brewing for the past decade. During Obama’s second term, Republicans banded together to try and stop any legislation put forward by the administration. Now, we are seeing the reverse. Obstruction from either party, hurts the American people and undermines our political system.
Why are we making every issue partisan? Policies should be considered no matter who introduces them, assessed with an open mind by both parties, and considered in terms of an elected official’s constituency. How is this too much to ask for?
Partisanship assumes that the majority of Americans adhere solely to the beliefs and goals of a singular party. This simply isn’t true. Yes, a political party is guided by a set of shared ideologies, but not every issue is partisan. A perfect example is education and Betsy DeVos. I was so proud to see my community come together (common ground exists, don’t let anyone convince you it doesn’t) and work to have their voices heard, even if it turned out to be in vain. Two Republican senators did listen to their constituency and their conscience and voted no. It is a start. I don’t want a Senate or House that votes purely down party lines. Accountability and truth (not parties) are vital to a functioning democracy.
But here is when the hope comes in, and why even when I am at my lowest, I am reminded of just how amazing we can be and the challenges we can rise to. Scroll through the Facebook pages of our Senators and read the comments their constituents are writing. People have had enough. People are active and finally engaging in politics like we should have been doing for years. Please, please, please keep it up! Demand that your voice is heard and hold those who “represent” us accountable. Write letters, make phone calls, and post on social media. Let them know — no more lies, no more pay for play, and no more party over people. Period. Stay positive and stay focused on the issues. Together we stand, divided we fall.
Finally, some much needed levity. This parody of Adele’s Hello calling Congress is perfect.