Signs of working together
Despite the rhetoric coming from Washington, Democrats and Republicans are beginning to work together in the states. Jerry Brown of California passed a balanced budget, Andrew Cuomo of New York and Martin O’Malley of Maryland have passed major initiatives. But the most surprising achievements are those by Republicans who have detached dogma for pragmatic reform.
As Chris Christie has proven, the GOP can be popular and advance on affirmative programs based on sound conservative principles. He has been joined by Govs. John Kasich of Ohio, Rick Scott of Florida, Rick Snyder of Michigan, Jan Brewer of Arizona and Robert McDonnell of Virginia. These state leaders have shown a skill in managing Medicare and the affordable care act. McDonnell was able to pass a major infrastructure upgrade. Democrats agreed to give up some of their pet projects regarding education in exchange for revenue-raising efforts for highways and roads. McDonnell defied some Republican resistance to taxes, but on the whole showed leadership.
But Kasich, Scott, Snyder and Brewer defied the most rigid standard by compromising with “Obamacare.” This program was demonized by tea party activists in 2010, even though it had its origins in the Republican party in the 1990s. Scott proved himself by doing what often proves most difficult – he changed his mind. By evoking the needs of the “weakest among us” Scott showed good sense and humanity. He did it because it shores up rural hospitals and Medicaid. He was influenced by the death of his mother, which he stated gave him “a new perspective.” Again it showed that his mind is agile and his compassion genuine.
If the Republican Party is to progress, the actions taken by these courageous governors are a good starting point. Dwight Eisenhour, who took power during the heyday of Joseph McCarthey and his “ism” GOP Conservatives, wanted to roll back the New Deal. After Ike, McCarthyism was “wasm” and Social Security was expanded. Add on the 1957 Civil Rights Act and the 1956 Federal Highway Act, and Eisenhower fashioned a “Modern Republicanism” to be proud of. Ronald Reagan also showed reasonableness with his Social Security deal of 1983. George H.W. Bush courageously raised taxes, even though he promised not to- once again defying rigidity.
When the Republican party stares down its vocal minority, good things happen. Everett Dirksen of Illinois played a big role in passing the nuclear test ban treaty, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the voting rights bill of 1965. By 1968, Dirksen played a role in the open-housing act. Despite doubts,the GOP helped to advance a progressive agenda. Business-oriented progress improves the economic environment. This was the essence of Eisenhower’s “modern Republicanism.”
Perhaps the tea party has been instructive for Democrats. It might be the natural reaction when they become too partisan. In years past they have held up a number of judicial appointments and stalled some GOP initiatives.
They rejected Robert Bork in the 1980s, not because he had a poor judicial record, but because of his beliefs. Playing that game too much sparks bad habits. Harry Truman’s low-balling campaign of 1948 convinced Republicans that it was time to be nobody’s nice guy.
Democrats have suggested these Republican governors prove that substance trumps ideology. The triumph of business progressivism over partisan bibble-babble, whatever the source, is a welcome change. These GOP governors deserve praise and support.