It doesn’t matter if you’re an ass or an elephant

In a supreme mockery of intellectualism, Democrats and Republicans gathered on the lawn in front of Loser Hall on Oct. 18 for a grand shouting match.

The two sides screamed at each other from opposite ends of the lawn for over an hour.

Police officers ringed the square, ensuring that the demonstrators stayed a reasonable distance from one another.

The battle was over who should act as New Jersey’s governor – Democrat Jon Corzine or Republican Doug Forrester. Shockingly enough, the shouting match did little to settle the issue. It did, however, create a terrible racket. There is a fundamental problem with this sort of demonstration. Namely, the problem of partisanship.

On a small scale, it has already divided the College. There are clubs for campus Democrats and Republicans. There are public shouting matches that have to be monitored by the police.

On a larger scale, partisanship has torn a rift between “red” states and “blue” states.

Take, for example, the U.S. Senate. They’re so busy fighting each other that they can’t get a damn thing done. According to The Washington Post, “The list of stalled legislation is long, on issues ranging from energy and welfare to compensation for asbestos victims and curbs on medical malpractice lawsuits and other forms of civil litigation.”

No one is surprised by how these senators vote anymore. They almost invariably vote along party lines.

Look at the example of Republican Senator George Voinovich from Ohio.

A while back, President Bush had nominated a man named John Bolton to be the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Bolton was infamous for being pushy, undiplomatic and rude.

His qualifications were not even an issue.

The Republicans voted for him (supporting the president’s choice) and the Democrats voted against him (opposing the president’s choice).

Voinovich, however, voted against the rest of his party. He was a Republican, but despite this he voted against Bolton’s nomination. In a tearful speech, Voinovich begged the Senate to carefully consider the Bolton nomination.

“I know some of my friends say, ‘Let it go, George, it’s going to work out,'” he said. “I don’t want to take the risk. I came back (to the Senate) and ran for a second term because I’m worried about my kids and my grandchildren. And I just hope my colleagues will take the time and before they get to this well, do some serious thinking about whether or not we should send John Bolton to the United Nations.”

For having the gall to present a thought-out, carefully considered opinion, Voinovich was rewarded with being labeled a traitor.

“Shame on Senator Voinovich,” Melanie Morgan, co-chair of Move America Forward, said.

Move America Forward, according to its Web site, is an “organization committed to supporting America’s efforts to defeat terrorism and supporting the brave men and women of our Armed Forces.”

Move America Forward ran television ads admonishing Voinovich for not only having a mind of his own, but (gasp!) using it.

“We are going to put our resources into putting the heat on Senator Voinovich until he sees the light. Standing up for American interests at the U.N. is urgent, and further delays only aid those who merrily wear the ‘Blame America First’ label,” Morgan said.

Why is it that this man should endure public embarrassment because he had an opinion? It doesn’t matter if he’s an ass or an elephant, he has a right to think. Voinovich is nothing short of a hero. When he crossed party lines, he fought America’s great modern disease.

In a Senate that can’t get anything done because of partisanship, he made a decision based on facts.

Partisanship does not have to be a permanent fixture of American government.

We can decide to change it. We can decide, first and foremost, neither to encourage nor create it on any level.

My fellow students – get off of your asses. Don’t allow partisanship just because it’s always been this way. It doesn’t work.

The government has been reduced to squabbling children. They are an embarrassment to the citizens they represent.

George Washington said in his farewell address, “Let me now . warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.”

He was president of a country that did not have formal political parties.

Perhaps Washington was on to something.

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