Oct. 23, 2019 — As most parents will tell you, every child goes through a stage where they seem to suffer from “oppositional disorder,” fervently opposing even the slightest difference of opinion as if the future of the world depended on it. Whether it’s the “terrible twos” or teens (or both, Lord help you) it’s part of a necessary step toward independence and establishing personal perspective on the road to maturity.
However, opposition itself isn’t a sign of maturity. Opposition for opposition’s sake only limits our opportunities, our perspectives and the kind of understanding that helps us grow as individuals. Maturity happens with the recognition of this fundamental truth.
Over the last several years, I’ve heard a growing rhetoric from both democratic and republican leaders in Congress to “oppose everything” the administration of the time proposes. This includes our own Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, who told Politico (Jan. 30, 2017) that he would automatically “filibuster any and all Supreme Court Justice nominees Trump puts forward.”
Keep in mind that it wasn’t long before that when Republican leadership in our nation’s capitol did something similar by refusing to consider President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, for the very same appointment.
And the beat goes on.
While I agree that any nominee seeking Congressional approval should be scrutinized for their qualifications, to enter into that process with a preconceived conclusion and public promise to automatically deny approval merely continues the kind of partisan politics that have turned the wheels of government into the rusted grind of rickety gears that Americans have lost faith in.
Perhaps more importantly, this kind of “obstructionist” mentality also runs the risk of delegitimizing future challenges within our system of checks and balances when they could matter most. Wherever you stand on the impeachment inquiry currently underway, this isn’t the time to overreach or grandstand simply for the sake of being in opposition or playing it safe with party politics. Americans are divided because their representatives in Congress have allowed themselves to become divided simply on the merits of which side of the aisle they happen to sit on.
One of the most basic techniques of winning a war is to divide and conquer. Without question, we are already a nation divided. Our representatives in Congress must put aside their need to conquer each other and remember that the true casualties of this kind of political war are those who they are supposed to be representing.
A little more than 200 years ago, our nation opposed tyranny in order to pursue the dream of being free. It was part of a necessary step toward independence. Our forefathers were mature enough to recognize that opposition itself wasn’t enough to secure our nation, but that it would take perspective and understanding to help us grow as individuals and a people united.
As we enter the early part of our nation’s own “terrible twos,” we need to remember that fundamental truth.
Because unlike that stage we must deal with as parents, in this case we really do need to act as if the future of the world depended on it…