Hope Not Gone for Deadlocked Congress
If our representatives will focus on the Big Issues, the nation's business can be done.
Currently though, the congressional waters remain frozen. It appears that the only certainty is that the stench of illegitimacy will taint the next government. That is to say, the atmosphere will resemble that which enveloped President Gerald Ford following Nixon's historic resignation.
At the time, President Ford was saddled with the task of healing a nation torn by an eroding faith in its leaders. Upon taking office, Ford's popularity swelled, as the public hoped for change. Roughly one month later, Ford pardoned Nixon, and his popularity spiraled downward. Popular wisdom holds that President Ford could not afford such an ambitious or radical move because he simply was not perceived by the public as a legitimate president.
A similar shroud of illegitimacy will hang over the next government. If President-elect Bush is stymied by an intractable Congress, it is unlikely he will implement the sort of bold policy moves we associate with genuine leadership. Of course, there are many vital issues in our society that could still be meaningfully engaged by a middle-of-the-road conservative leader.
Ethnic prejudices continue to rage as fiercely as ever in this country. Perhaps civil rights and civil liberties could prove the concept that binds the two political parties together (as our disparate founding fathers were bound by the concept of human rights).
Along these lines, it should be noted that President Lincoln came into office under the shroud of illegitimacy. After all, Lincoln won only 40% of the popular vote his first term, and not a single Southern electoral vote. And none of the Southern electors even cast their ballots for Lincoln's second term. This point was not lost on the president, who facilitated the healing process by adopting a member of the other party as his vice president in 1864, dedicating much of his effort toward preservation of the Union, and later to Reconstruction, not political infighting.
Since neither the Republicans nor the Democrats seem prepared to leave this country as it is, one hopes that a deadlocked Congress will rally to the great cause of civil liberties and rights and thus bind partisans to a common goal--and propel this country forward.