Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Why We Can't Resolve This Crisis: We Are Blinded By Partisanship

The results of this poll are revealing.

It is not just Congress that has dissolved into partisan bickering. Americans themselves are blinded by their political allegiance: Democrats blame Republicans for the crisis, and vice versa.

This is the result of the MSNB versus FOX culture, where Democrats and Republicans only need to listen to voices that echo their own opinion (or listen to CNN, which simply echoes controversy).

I know, I know. It was Bush and Rove who created the partisan divisions to distract the public from their disastrous Presidency. It's Obama who's best equipped to change this dire culture. I know.

But put that aside for the moment. Both political cultures have enabled this collapse by failing to LEAD. Leadership involves a) having credibility b) being able to adjust your opinion to fit the facts and c) putting your credibility on the line in order to defend unpopular positions. Bush has been the master of not leading, but our whole country seems to be infected with this poison now. This problem exists in our media punditry as much as in our political and economic culture. Watching the hens clucking on the news programs - and not explaining to Americans why something needs to be done - is a failure of our media leadership as well.

The poisoned partisan atmosphere makes it too easy for us to ignore "inconvenient truths." Democrats need to acknowledge that bad regulations can distort markets. That they sometimes support bills - like expanding home ownership - because they are politically popular rather than economically responsible. That they can and have made mistakes that have allowed it to be all too easy for the Administration to have ignored this crisis for too long. Republicans need to acknowledge that there are times when the free market can fail: and this is one of them. That sometimes government is the solution because government is the only player that can bring real "buy and hold" powers to the markets. That they should have gotten over this rigid ideology that's led to this inertia and acted much sooner. And that they've supported this clueless Administration way too long and too much.

So let's all have this cathartic moment. Then let's get together and do what Americans use to do: save our asses, and the world.

That's why the markets tanked yesterday. Because no one could believe it: the no vote indicated that we just don't have anymore what America used to have to pull together as a country.

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