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Friday, June 01, 2007

That's What Elections Are For

E.J. Dionne Jr., my favorite Washington Post punching bag once again has forgotten how our system works. I should be happy that he is apparently so concerned for our system of government that he wrote today's column "Debating In Parallel Universes"; except he's forgotten how our electoral system works.

You see E.J. is very concerned about the split in priorities that Pew pointed out in an April poll. Evidently he was shocked to learn that folks on the left and right have differing priorities for the country. I guess he doesn't pay as much attention to politics as an op/ed writer should.

The poll he references showed that domestic issues are the number one concern of a majority of Democratic voters, while national security and foreign affairs top the Republican list. He wonders how we can possibly elect someone to fathom that divide. Well, E.J., we've been doing it for better than two centuries now, and it hasn't proven to be that tough.

I'll simplify it for him since he doesn't seem to get it. We have two sets of elections, one is a primary, where the party faithful chose the man or woman they think will do the best job of representing their interests in office.

Then we have a general election, where those folks try and convince both sides that they can juggle both their party's priorities, and the concerns of the folks across the aisle. The one who does the best job of convincing wins.

The fact is, who ever we elect will immediately have at least a portion of the other side ticked off; that's a good thing, it generally keeps politicians somewhat honest. The last six years has been an at time exhasperating demonstration about that. George Bush has been honest about what he's going to do, got elected twice by saying it, and definitely ticked off the majority of the other side of the debate.

The biggest problem I have with the current President might be that his style will convince other people running for office to be less honest about how they'll do things. Because of the way his poll numbers look; which is a big driver for too many politicians; others may think being less open about how you are going to do things is a better idea. It's not, it's just better for poll numbers.

Summing it up for E.J., yes, there are political divides in the country. They may seem bigger now than ever, but I think that is as much a product of the folks in the media as it is of reality. In fact we've always had huge political disconnects in the country, and we always live through them. No need to worry about it, just let the process work.

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