American's enemy within

Somewhere, our political system in America has taken a wrong turn. The concept of public service is increasingly becoming lost on those public officials charged with the responsibility of representing the people. Political parties are increasingly taking precedence over principle. And for both reasons, the political culture in our country is increasingly identifying the wrong enemies to challenge, and not fighting aggressively enough to combat the true threats to America. ÿ

A Republican's enemy is not a Democrat, nor is a Democrat's enemy a Republican. Yet both parties constantly fight back and forth, attacking each other with a vigor better reserved for confronting real enemies. The politicos forget they are all on the same team, all Americans with a greater responsibility than serving their own interests and every moment they waste away in-fighting is another moment real enemies have to grow stronger. But those real enemies are not individuals simply divided by their ideological differences, and we must not allow the political culture to become our enemy within.ÿ

The enemy is Al Qaeda, Hamas, Iraq, terrorism and those who threaten the security of our country. The enemy is an education system crying out for reform but held captive by the political bickering of both parties, resulting in satisfied politicians and interest groups, but under-educated children. The enemy is poverty, not an opposing political party. Our greatest enemy in America is a system that works not for the people and by the people, but instead is used to politicize the general welfare of the people. ÿ

No senior citizen ought to be without prescription drug coverage because Republicans and Democrats cannot agree on a mutual plan. No willing child should be denied quality education as the result of political gridlock. While interest groups fight over school vouchers, the influence of teachers unions and state versus federal funding, the children who represent Americas future are being accelerated through school despite lacking basic proficiency in reading, writing, and arithmetic. No federal judicial nominee ought to be denied a vote before the full Senate. The judiciary has lost its independence as our third branch of government as judicial nominations are routinely blocked by hearings or filibusters, a tactic used over the years by Republicans and Democrats alike. The breakdowns in our system are numerous, and too often occur because politicians identify the wrong enemy.ÿ

Republicans and Democrats share equal blame in the gridlock that has distracted the political process from those priorities which ought to be of primary significance. And those individuals who are too apathetic to vote share an even greater burden of the blame because they contribute absolutely nothing to the democratic process. ÿ

We've collectively become more concerned about winning elections than assuring America is moving in a winning direction. Neither party has the answers on all issues; this is why political power has shifted in Washington over the years and no one political party has become a monopoly. That neither party doesn't have all the answers isn't the problem; the problem is they think they do, and too often both Republicans and Democrats maneuver for political leverage when it would be in the best interests of the country to compromise. Remaining firm on principle is admirable, but the politics of opposition for oppositions sake is detrimental to the nation as a whole. Ultimately, however, a bipartisan economic package doesn't have the same political benefit as a Republican or Democratic package, and both parties have a vested interest in campaigning on why the other parties package is wrong. ÿ

During his election, President Bush vowed to changed the tone in Washington; the results have been modest at best. Though he has personally made efforts to reach out to members of other ideologies, notably Senator Ted Kennedy, with whom Bush cooperated on the No Child Left Behind Act, the overall tone in Washington remains spoiled by political partisanship. The problem is not confined to the federal level - it has expanded to the heart of our state and local governments, and down to the grassroots level of politics. ÿ

In his 1964 speech "A Time for Choosing," Ronald Reagan articulated, "We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth and if we fail, at least let our children and our childrens children say of us that we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done."

The pettiness of politics hinders our system of government's ability to responsibly function the way in which our framers intended. For those who the public elected and entrusted with their faith, this ought to be their time for choosing. Leadership is about doing what is right for America as a whole, not best for one's political party, and this is a standard every public officeholder has a responsibility to uphold. For those public servants who can no longer serve by this principle, perhaps their greatest service would be to step aside for an individual who could. We can either preserve the responsible nature of our framers intent, or leave coming generations in the hands of partisans. When it comes to the future of the country, America deserves to know that we have indeed done all that could be done.ÿ

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