Partisan vs. bi-partisan politics

Heather Nichols-Haining

It’s pretty obvious to most people following our candidates, Senators McCain and Obama, that they have drastically different stances on virtually every issue they approach. From taxes to abortion, health care to education, it can hardly be denied that they have little in common in terms of their political stances. It should hardly be surprising that Obama’s policies seem, well, leftist. Democratic. Libral. And McCain’s policies appear right-winged. Maybe even Republican. Conservative.

I hope none of my readers are shocked at this acute observation, because partisan politics is the nature of our bipartisan political system. Whether or not partisan politics are ethical or the best system for our country is a question for another day. I’m more interested in what in means for this upcoming election.

One of McCain’s great claims to fame is his self-proclaimed title of “maverick.” He lets voters know he is not afraid to vote across party lines. In the first debate, he claimed he has often voted for policies that haven’t made him popular within his own party. McCain challenged Obama to defend his partisan views.

“You have to tell me one time when you have stood up to the leaders of your party on one single major issue,” he said during the last debate.

McCain’s campaign is leaving a residue of distrust and discontent with partisan politics. Neither candidate wants to be the one seen clinging to his parties’ traditional values.

But there is no problem with being a partisan candidate. There is no problem with maintaining the values of your party. In most cases, it’s not a coincidence that certain values of a party correspond with other values of the same party. Democrats traditionally support increased governmental regulation to bring economic equality to more people. Thus it shouldn’t be a surprise that a Democratic politician will probably be for increased federal spending on medical care as well as for increased taxes on the superrich. If a politician stands for the values of her or his party, it should expected that she or he will support bills that correspond with the values of the party.

It’s not bad that Obama consistently supports his party. It’s not bad that he is a Democrat and has a Democratic platform. Many Americans would not be so passionate about his platform if he espoused Republican values.
Likewise, I have a hard time understanding McCain as anything but a Republican despite his oh-so-courageous “maverick” stances. If he thinks his party has some screwed up notions and wants to vote along Democractic lines, that’s fine. But that shouldn’t mean that Obama or anyone else should be obliged to vote along the opposite party lines.

Of course I’m not in favor of blind, strict partisan-politics. I fully support thinking every bill and decision carefully through and weighing the outcomes. But if, after doing the thinking and the weighing, a decision is reached that is within your party’s values (which is extremely likely), it is not detrimental, and certainly does not make you less qualified to be the President.