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Point of View: Political sphere needs revamping on all fronts

Nov. 5, 2010

By Nick Dean
Editor in Chief

In what has seemed to be a campaign season embroiled with bitterness and busting at the seams with aggression, one common thread stuck out to me: The candidates used guilt by association to wage their war to reclaim the House.

Newspaper ads associating Democrats with the soon-to-be-former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi were used nationwide. Unflattering photos of President Barack Obama plastered next to a candidate's name were common. I find it tactless, to say the least, but I am not saying it wasn't effective.

Mainly, I wonder how true the ads are and whether, in our political climate, we have room for legitimate conversation on Capitol Hill. It seems to me like those Democrats had no choice but to "associate" with the Speaker of the House, and thus leader of their party.

Am I saying that they are off the hook for ushering in major reform in a divisive way? Absolutely not. The actions that have taken place in the House and Senate have been anything but "of, by or for the people."

Am I saying that our country's political sphere is full of catch-22s that cause candidates to choose between a logical, beneficial decision and a choice that saves face with his or her respective party? Yes.

Those ads that associated candidates with politicians that many would not even poke a stick at weren't factually wrong. I am sure the voting percentages that were emboldened and fire-truck red were accurate. And I think we deserved to know them.

However, how is anyone supposed to make logical, respectful choices in an atmosphere where bipartisanship is a form of weakness and fraternizing on both sides of the aisle places your political career at risk?

Obama called the next probable Speaker of the House John Boehner and said he looks forward to working with him. I don't believe him.

Obama can't be looking forward to working with a completely revamped House because it means he will actually have to compromise. No longer is there a speaker to do all of his bidding. He has to work for it and he has to work toward the improvement of America with many Republicans -- rather than working toward checking off numerous items from his agenda's to-do list.

However, those very Republicans that used guilt by association for political gain will have no choice but to "associate" with Obama. If the Grand Old Party plans to do anything effective before the next election, they will need him. The same goes for Obama needing the Republicans.

If the game plan for either side is founded on the idea of ignoring the unwanted party, then America has much to worry about.

Come 2012, I won't be evaluating the progress of our congressional houses by the number of items repealed or the number of legislative agendas that were rammed through the system without careful consideration for what is best for all.

If in 2012 nothing has changed and Obama is playing the blame game and shoving all inadequacies and failures on the back of the Republican party and the Republicans are pointing the finger at Obama, I'll know nothing has changed.

When candidates are focusing more on what they have done to improve a community, a state or America -- then something has changed because then progress has occurred. That will be the point that America's politicians have actually listened to voters.

I fear that many politicians who have shown a bipartisan nature -- like Rep. Chet Edwards -- were defeated not because they were the worse candidates but because Americans have a grudge against the overall unchanging, selfish nature of the Democrats' Congress.

I see great promise in some of the new faces entering our nation's legislature.

And I am in no way saying this new Congress can't be the one that changes the nature of our political sphere.

However, I am sure it is easy to slip right back into divisive legislating that rams bills through, disregarding all sense of bipartisanship.

This major overhaul of the House could be the first stepping-stone to a Congress that looks to achieve much so that it may blame little.

However, if Americans voted in new faces from new sides simply out of desperation and without any knowledge, I think we may find ourselves reading the same guilt by association ads in daily newspapers and on billboards along the highway in two years.

Nick Dean is a junior journalism and political science major from Austin and the Editor in Chief of the Baylor Lariat.