Here’s how it went down: When extramarital rumors became investigations of Bill Clinton the right wing dug in and coined themselves as the “Party of Family Values” and had no tolerance for a president who betrayed those values. It became clear that Clinton was denying the truth and that many of the accusations were, indeed, true. On the left we found Clinton pretty indefensible, but we deluded ourselves into believing that bigger values were at stake and that his integrity as president was still intact. I say “deluded” because his behavior did put a stain on that integrity and his effectiveness as a leader. But it was partisan politics then as it is now.
Today we have Donald Trump, the standard bearer of the Party of Family Values. Yet it is clear that his life has been one of philandering with even less regard than Clinton for moral conduct; layers of denials, lies, payoffs, and accusations of more sinister dimensions abound. The left wing now points this out with a vengeance after the Clinton investigation, and for the castigation of a man of genuine marital integrity, Barack Obama. But the right wing easily deflects any criticism of Trump with: “Democrats are hypocrites! You defended Clinton!”
There would be validity in that statement except there is a more central double standard at play; it is the “Party of Family Values” that is justifying the defamation of those values, simply because Trump is of that party.
Moral integrity is a false premise in politics. That is a shame because that should actually be the preeminent value to determine a politicians commitment to constitutional governance. Instead we accept the shortcomings, sometimes dangerous shortcomings, of anyone so long as they share our party affiliation. So…this begs the question: What does your (our) party stand for that is so immutable and worth ethical piracy?
A better economic recipe for prosperity? And prosperity for whom? All of us? A better plan for insuring and expanding the realization of civil rights and securing justice for all? An environmental record to protect our resources and national health? Safety of our children? Of our nation? A formula for healthcare? For senior citizens, for veterans?
I have an even more pressing question to consider: Shouldn’t all of these policies, issues and concerns be provable and solvable with real data and historical records?
We have two and a half centuries of information on how to run a country. Programs, plans, laws, restrictions, easing restrictions, regulations, easing regulations, changing tax structures, providing aid, targeting budgets, investments and re-targeting. That requires a lot of study, investigation, conferences, negotiating, compromise, and research; but it’s there. Lincoln’s unifying wisdom, FDR’s investment to end a depression, Kennedy’s tax re-structuring, Nixon’s environmental protection, Reagan’s victory over the Cold War, Obama’s reversal of a recession. There are many consistencies that history can reveal that can be the blueprint for modern policy, whether economic, social, foreign or domestic. What worked? What didn’t?
Do you know what isn’t consistent throughout history? How we apply the principles of conservatism and liberalism. While each party has consistently held basic principles of each ideology, how we realize those principles have become nearly the opposite of what they meant 150 years ago. Even in my lifetime there has been dramatic change. Look at this plank from the Republican Party platform in 1950’s.
-We charge that there has been corruption in high places (by Democrats), and that examples of dishonesty and dishonor have shamed the moral standards of the American people.
Republicans also charged the Democrats with “reckless blunder” in foreign policy. It’s simply too easy, and ultimately unproductive, to keep pointing the finger at one another for double standards.
I’m not so naïve as to believe that there isn’t going to be profound disagreement in the procurement of such data and analysis of historical information, but, I am wise enough to know that if the focus is not with blind partisanship, and we, instead, focused on transparent, verifiable information, we WILL find agreements. There CAN be bipartisanship again and effective, cooperative leadership could once again helm this Republic.