Guest MINDSETTER™ Brendan Doherty: Time for Voters to Tune Out Partisan Rhetoric
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Washington is broken. Both parties have become so consumed with their own agendas that they are unable to work together for the benefit of the American people. The key tool in pushing these agendas is the art of partisan political rhetoric. By now, America knows it well. Whether it was Republicans talking about “death panels” or Democrats bemoaning the fortune of “millionaires and billionaires,” while warning of the “end of Medicare as we know it,” our representatives are proving themselves to be more adept than ever at repeating trite sound bytes while abandoning efforts to enact real solutions.
To put America back on its path to greatness, voters must tune out the propaganda, take a serious look at both sides of the issues, and decide which of the candidates they can trust to level with them and make responsible choices. Ultimately, once the rhetoric is stripped away, we must find the areas of bi-partisan agreement through which we can lead our country forward to a new day. At the very least, we must hold our elected officials to the standard of seeking the common good ahead of their own political gain. Only then can we expect to achieve the sort of bipartisan consensus that has served as the foundation for such landmark achievements as the establishment of Social Security and Medicare.
Election season 2012 is upon us now and voters should be very wary of the political misdirection that is already underway. The very language of some partisan rhetoric demonstrates a clear intent to incite conflict and animosity among our citizens. A recent comment from the Cicilline Campaign accused his opponents of seeking to “wage war on women, the middle class, students and seniors.” While it is true that our elected officials, like the citizens that they represent, have divergent views on a number of issues, to accuse a political opponent of waging war on a segment of our own society smacks of political hysteria and as I stated recently, if there is a war on women I will be the first to stand in their defense.
A recent proposal to help end the persistent unemployment that plagues our economy includes lowering our corporate tax rate, reducing taxes for individuals and small businesses and simplifying the tax code. According to the Cicilline propaganda machine, such proposals constitute a Republican agenda of “tax cuts for the rich.” Peel away the rhetoric, however, and you see that this is exactly what President Obama has proposed in his budget. In fact, both the House Republican budget and former Democratic President Bill Clinton have proposed lowering the corporate tax rate to 25 percent. While such proposals have bi-partisan support and could help to restore our economy and move our Nation forward, the political response is to label them a “War on the Middle Class” and to do so is a disservice to every Rhode Islander struggling to find or hold onto a job in this difficult economy.
Those who practice the politics of division also promote the idea of a “War on Women” being waged on Congress and point to its failure to enact the Paycheck Fairness Act. While all reasonable-minded people, whether Republican or Democrat must believe that women and men should be paid equally, partisan gridlock has stymied this and similar legislation. Rather than promoting gender warfare, our representatives must put aside their posturing and enact these common sense proposals.
Probably the most well-known form of political demagoguery is the so-called “scare the seniors tour” that takes place every two years. It has been reported widely in the past few weeks that Congressman Cicilline is making the rounds to senior housing facilities to warn of the Republican threats to Social Security and Medicare. In fact, members of both political parties know that reductions on revenue, coupled with the retirement of the Baby Boom generation is straining those programs and driving them toward insolvency. Both parties also have recognized that something must be done to protect our seniors currently benefitting from those programs, while preserving them for future generations.
In 2010, President Obama formed a bipartisan group called the Simpson-Bowles Commission to address our most difficult budget issues. That Commission showed courage and leadership in proposing reforms to preserve Social Security, including continuing the gradual increase in retirement age, increasing the wage cap, and offering more benefits to seniors with lower incomes. These proposal garnered support from both parties, including former President Bill Clinton. Unfortunately, our representatives in Congress have failed to push for these proposals, instead focusing on tactics to scare seniors for their own political gain.
A New Day
Where we go as a nation will depend on our choices. Will we elect our leaders based on slogans, or will we elect them based on character? Will we focus on party affiliation, or will we look to the integrity of the individual? Will we send to Washington representatives who perpetuate their own careers through demagoguery and misinformation or will we send those we can trust to do the right thing when no one is watching?
I encourage all Rhode Islanders to look beyond the political rhetoric and to consider that if an accusation sounds too convenient or one-sided to be true, it probably is false. Rather than accepting a candidate who promises protection from some doomsday scenario, consider seeking out a candidate that commits to finding common ground, listening to both sides of the discussion and building consensus around real solutions. Only then will we restore the greatness of Rhode Island and the United States and offer the promise of hope to our families and future generations.
Brendan Doherty is a Republican candidate for Congress in the 1st District.
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