After every election, no matter what the outcome, I have always held out the hope that those who come to power will quickly cast aside their political and ideological differences in favor of crafting policy that works for the common good of the American people. There was a time when no matter how visceral or vitriolic the campaign that leaders afterwards would turn their pitchforks into plough shares–and put the needs of the country over the needs of the party.
This notion, however naive considering the present tone in Washington, comes from those memories of true statesmen like Ronald Reagan and Thomas “Tip” O’Neill extending a warm and genuine hand across the aisle or across the room.
While I am tempted to engage in the usual postmortem after last week’s midterms, I will refrain from what is usually a fruitless and feckless exercise in trying to gage the will and mood of the American public. I remember those educated pundits of just two years ago that had declared that the Republican party was just a breath away from extinction. After elections of such historic proportions, there will always be those grand declarations about mandates and change; but seldom do those pronouncements correctly reflect the political reality.
There are those voices that claim that this election was about killing healthcare, rolling back economic reform, and bringing about a less intrusive government. But the real numbers paint a very different picture. Americans are nearly evenly split on all these issues–so there in no clear mandate for either party. But what has been expressed by the majority of the American people time and time again is the need to end the cancerous partisanship that is threatening the health of this nation. So while many politicians will make the case about some “greater national will of the people,” most politics remains local–and Americans will continue to reward those that serve the needs of their constituents with re-election.
One such honorable public servant is John Doyle of the West Virginia House of Delegates. We caught up with him at the Mecklenburg Inn a few months back. This venerable institution in Shepherdstown provides the perfect setting for mister Doyle to do what he does best–listening to the people, and when the spirit moves him–belting out a few Irish ballads.
What a better country this would be if more of our representatives would raise their voice in sweet refrain instead of soured rancor.
Posted by: Chris Poh