Higgins: Political tactical victimsWritten by Tim Higgins | | firstname.lastname@example.org
In battle, they are often called “collateral damage.” The far-too-frequent innocent victims in games fought out between opposing ideologies; innocently caught in the crossfire and little remembered at battles’ end except as statistics.
Any incidental value they might retain is viewed through the political lens of whether their condition carries any propaganda value and to whom. Syria’s civil war was a classic example when 100,000 victims killed by conventional (accepted) means had little value to participants or spectators, but 1,400 alleged victims of poison gas attacks rated responses completely out of keeping with their numbers and redefined the nature of the conflict.
While some may fail to see the comparison between a civil war in a foreign land to what happens in our own, this week saw millions placed in jeopardy as tactical victims of our national legislators, freshly returned from their summer vacations. Opening salvos began almost immediately in a curiously contrived confrontation that should have ended long before it began. In today’s nonstop world of political campaigning however, the looming (and perhaps even staged) budget and debt ceiling crises are not the failures of leadership and responsibility they should be, but battlefields where even the most principled political stand must now be measured on a scale that includes personal ambition, fundraising ability and party dominance.
Some may see this as a thinly-veiled attack of Republican Ted Cruz’s 21-hour Senatorial marathon to defund Obamacare, but not so. I don’t know Cruz well enough to question the logic or passion behind this recent “Mr Smith Goes to Washington” performance on the floor of the Senate. I feel sure however, that someone close to his potential political future spent the long hours that night minutely calculating the effect that his dramatic and articulate recitation had on the national electorate and its affect on the balance of power between Ds and Rs.
Democrat Harry Reid likewise carries what should be a worrisome burden in the tawdry tactics of this week’s drama and seemingly without regret. No less committed to the melodrama of this political battle than his Republican counterparts, he almost gleefully accepted his role as the political foil, critic and derisive scold of a man who wanted no more than what the majority leader has begged for far too often in other similar tactical situations: ‘an up or down vote’. In the constant conflict of today’s politics however, such inconsistencies are quickly discarded. Instead, his normally severe and mocking nature took full advantage of the situation, knowing that he held the tactical of advantage of the bully pulpit and the Senate’s rules.
The president, these and their fellow Senators, and their companions in the House however continue to use the citizens of this nation as little more than sacrificial pawns in a twisted political chess game. In this never-ending “too big to fail” contest of political blackmail, both parties have mostly discarded serving the public interest in favor of serving their party’s. Few seem capable these days of raising their voices in anything but fruitless accusation of political opponents over blame for a potential government shutdown that would be unnecessary if they spent more doing their jobs and less on seeking political advantage.
Victory in Washington is now defined as creating real or at least apparent discord with political opponents in the name of personal ambition, tactical advantage and fundraising. The desire to create political strife for no better reason than political gain is apparently a far greater imperative than the responsibilities of an oath of office that far too many falsely claim to serve. Winning political battles is lauded (and rewarded) to a far greater extent by party leadership than any exhibition of common sense or ability and the best ideas are those which have gone through the proper channels.
The problem with government today is not civility or partisanship, but fear on the part of these servants of the people. Those in office today are far more afraid of breaking party ranks and losing their cushy committee appointments and party-supported campaign financing than they are of any potential backlash from failing to serve their mostly disinterested constituencies.
Make no mistake however. The Battle of the 2014 Election has begun, the rhetorical lines have been drawn, and the support of the “party faithful” (financial and otherwise) is being contested on both sides of the aisle. No one yet knows who the victorious will be, but you can bet money that regardless of which sides win or lose the coming battle, there will be plenty of tactical victims left to mark the way.