Reporter's Note: President Obama spoke a lot about bipartisanship when he was running for office, and even after he took the oath. But the across-the-aisle tailgate parties seem like they’ll be in short supply this football season. My letters to the president, however, will not…
Tom Foreman | Bio
Dear Mr. President,
I was thinking more about what I wrote yesterday about the Tea Party Express folks and their outrage over the way you are running the country, and a basic question came to mind: Do you think this nation is truly governable anymore?
We can point to individual moments in which we all seemed to be on the same page. Right after 9/11 most everyone was pretty firmly behind President Bush. After your election, the polls showed most people willing to give you a shot at calling the shots…so to speak. But in this country of 300-million people, getting everyone to pull in the same direction for any sustained period seems about as likely as keeping Kanye West in his seat and quiet at an awards show.
Some of that, I think, is because voters are honestly divided on some serious issues.
Some of it is because the political parties both talk a good game of cooperation, but as soon as either one gets 51 percent of Congress, they tell the other 49 percent to go soak their heads. But a lot of it is because intolerance of opposing political views has grown to…well, an almost intolerable level. We’ve always had to put up with a few people yelling their way through debates, but now it seems like the screamers are dominating the political conversation. Some of that is our fault in the media too, since we put these berserkers on the air with shocking regularity.
Why don’t the parties do something about it? I believe the majority in each party is comprised of relatively moderate, reasonable folks. But if it is to a party’s advantage to let a flamethrower keep raging, it seems to me that the temptation is just too great.
So in the name of short-term political advantage, they make a long-term deal to sell their souls, and our political debate devolves a little more each time. The only solution, I think, is for each party to reverse that trend; to start calling down its own members when they go too far. But then, that would require each party putting the good of the country first…and like the Saints in the Superbowl, while it is something worth hoping for, it’s not exactly something I’m counting on.
I’m on the road up in Connecticut, but the cell phone is always on…so, uh, are you calling?
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