How often does some well-meaning soul say, “Democrats and Republicans should put aside their differences and just do what’s right for the country.”
That sounds perfectly reasonable. But it’s perfectly unrealistic. The differences are over what’s right for the country. And the differences are fundamental and unbridgeable.
How, for example, would the two parties compromise on Obamacare? How do you put aside these differences: Democrats believe in government, Republicans don’t. Democrats believe everyone should have good health care, Republicans don’t. Democrats believe in public schools, Republicans don’t. Democrats are for people who are trying to make it, Republicans are for people who have it made.
Carter has blogged about the war inside the Republican Party between the Tea Partiers, who abhor compromise, and the “Pachyderms,” who sometimes compromise. Carter notes that the Tea Party is no fringe group. It’s a popular and powerful force within one of America’s two major political parties. Right now, it’s a force looking for a voice.
There’s a corresponding force within the Democratic Party. For two decades, Democrats have been dominated by Bill Clinton’s belief in a middle way between Republican and Democratic extremes. President Obama said in 2008 he would go to Washington and bridge the gulf between blue America and red America.
How’s that working out for you, Mr. President?
Some Democrats still believe in middle ground. Congressman David Price says the two parties came together to balance the budget in the late 1990s and can again. Erskine Bowles, who negotiated that balanced budget, is still trying to do it again.
But more and more Democrats believe there is no middle ground with the Tea Party. There is only total war. There will be a winner and a loser.
Like the Tea Party, that force is looking for a voice.