The Partisan Problem

For these members of his Cabinet who remain and try to defend him, they’re not going to be able to go to a restaurant, they’re not going to be able to stop at a gas station, they’re not going to be able to shop at a department store. The people are going to turn on them, they’re going to protest, they’re going to absolutely harass them

Rep. Maxine Waters spoke those words earlier this summer. She was speaking to a crowd during the turmoil over the children separation policy. I trimmed the full quote, which you should read, because I wanted to focus on what could be seen as her advocating for some form of political violence. Rep. Waters wanted to bring pressure on those officials who backed the President’s policy, but regardless of the reason, I found the subtext to be troubling.

Rep. Waters is set to take on the chair of the House Financial Services Committee in January. A full story in The Wall Street Journal previewed just what kind of committee she may run. Other outlets are reporting that she’s put Wells Fargo and even Equifax in her sights. Good for her!

This illustrates the problem with partisanship. She gave too many people a valid reason to write her off as unserious and perhaps even dangerous. Political violence tears at the threads of democracy and should be rejected by all free-thinking people, regardless of the party affiliation of the advocate.

If you were to evaluate your own policy positions, you would likely find common ground with any politician. As Americans, I believe that we truly want what’s best for our Nation, even if we often fail to articulate it. The truth is, few Americans are partisans. Most of us are somewhere in the middle, coming down on either side depending on the issue.

There’s a political calculation to being a partisan. Rep. Waters was speaking to her base, wanting to fire them up, and get her party back in control during a dramatic, albeit boring election cycle. The problem is, when you are eventually given authority, your ideas come tainted with your previous rhetoric, even if those ideas are great.

© 2019 Chet J. Collins