If a pollster asked about political partisanship, at least 100 of 100 respondents would want it to end. Now.

If a pollster asked about political partisanship, at least 100 of 100 respondents would want it to end. Now.

They want bipartisan solutions to our nation’s woes. They want an end to gridlock.

Of course they do. Who wouldn’t want liberals and conservatives to respect each other’s views and work toward what’s best for the nation as a whole, not just special interests? Well, when put like that, it’s pretty easy to check the box against partisanship.

But that’s not the case day in and day out. Partisanship has become as American as apple pie and Toyota.

What Americans really mean is: We want our goals accomplished. We want everybody to see things the way we do. We want our programs to move forward with lightning speed. To heck with anyone and anything else!

We think of “partisanship” in terms of the actual political parties, but really the word refers to a rigid adherence to certain ideologies. You can be a Democratic or a Republican partisan — or even a Green partisan — but you don’t have to belong to any party to have such tendencies. Exhibit A: The tea party. There won’t be a “T” out behind a candidate’s name on a ballot, but there is a Tea Party Caucus in Congress, led by former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann. Is that caucus “partisan?” Many would say that, no, it’s a movement based on broad planks in a far-reaching platform. On the other hand, of the 62 members, there isn’t a single Democrat or independent. All Republicans. So, the question remains, is the caucus partisan? Eye of the beholder is the answer.

All of us have our ideas and ideals, beliefs and biases. We want those to win the day. That’s why we vote for like-minded candidates (or at least those who sound like-minded).

But what about the moderates? They aren’t “partisan,” are they? Sure. Even moderates have “partisan” leanings. If you don’t believe in trickle-down economics but disdain bailing out the big banks that nearly crashed our economy, you have the makings of “partisan” positions, albeit conflicting ones.

We all bring our experiences and prejudices and rationale to the political table. We form our opinions, and then we might get involved in trying to get those opinions made into law. Many of us will at least voice those opinions to anyone who will listen, and we’ll complain, usually loudly, when our pet project or notion goes down in the flames of partisan voting lines.

Even though we say we disdain such rancor, we are engaging in it more and more these days. The wedges dividing our political parties, and therefore our nation, are sinking deeper and deeper, widening the chasms. It’s more about us against them, while we used to talk about us against our enemies outside our borders. Today, our enemies are as much within as without, and that’s crazy.

To be sure, we didn’t arrive at this point because the American people divided into camps. No, the power brokers of the past couple decades have fomented a culture that tells us politics is a zero-sum game. You either win or lose. There is no middle ground.


The middle ground is what helped us evolve through the generations. Often, we didn’t move fast enough, and we’re still not moving fast enough on some issues, but the only way we will move forward is to actually end the politics of I win-you lose. That doesn’t look to be in the cards anytime soon, sadly.

So, when Americans claim they’re tired of partisanship, they really don’t mean it. What they mean is that they want the other side to just go away so they can do what they really want to do without impediment.

• • •

Rick Fahr is publisher of the Log Cabin Democrat in Conway. His e-mail is rick.fahr@thecabin.net