Wait, Willingness to Work With Other Party is Frowned Upon Now?

Did I miss something? When did it become frowned upon for a member of a political party to say simply being the party of “No!” wasn’t their job? Why is it surprising for someone in elected office to want to find common ground and get work done when possible, and push back when there is none? When the hell did we stop expecting that our officials and government would work for us and not just a segment of a political party?

Where to begin? It appears some local antagonists partnered with angry politicians fuel the fire of dissent. Unfortunately, too many good and decent people fall for their partisan schemes. Let me give you an example. A Republican Legislator recently took to a paper’s opinion section saying the “moderate Democrat experiment has failed” North Dakota. This opinion was pushed during a politically popular time for the right to criticize U.S. Senator Heitkamp after a vote. Mind you; this was the same Representative so worried about “moderate Democrats” that he introduced legislation in a panic so that if the “moderate Democrat” Heitkamp ran for Governor in 2016 – and won – she couldn’t appoint another “moderate Democrat” to the U.S. Senate. This is simply a continuation of an attempt to turn people away from moderates. Don’t buy the chest pounding meant to appease special interests and campaign donors.

Meanwhile, the strategy from paid instigators to divide an already marginalized Democratic party continues. Beyond simply sharing what I think are personally misguided grievances from frustrated Democrats, these message peddlers like to add nuances in hopes it will stick with voters. A recent example of characterizing campaign ads as “desperation” while neglecting to acknowledge the video they used to self-promote, and publicly divide was delivered from a campaign tracker. Trackers simply follow around public officials like stink on trash, and nothing smells more “desperate” than a political paparazzi who holds their phone, records your every move, and then gives it to media to smear your innocent words this early in a potential political campaign.

It isn’t just people on the right. I understand some in the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party are upset at leaders like Heitkamp. Interestingly, many in this same group applauded her for the vote that angered the Republican Legislator mentioned above. She is stuck in the middle which is where I believe a lot of North Dakota voters are. Remember, a recent poll showed Heitkamp with a 60% approval in ND.  I don’t agree with all of it, but it’s their right to express it. Some of them I consider friends even though they’ve used creative, and at times unflattering, adjectives about me before uttering my name to others. I can already imagine the outrage this post will create among them. That’s fine. I believe they’re missing the picture, and it could cost them in the long run by falling for these orchestrated non-stories, and by demanding more left-leaning purity.

It seems to the left, a “moderate” is discouraged and shunned as a sellout of their convictions. To the right, a “moderate” is viewed as dangerous to their manufactured brand and must be identified as an outsider. A “whacko-liberal!” they like to call us. All of it divides, and we sit in a stalemate yelling at each other over social media. It leads nowhere. Meanwhile, those in the center, of which there are many, looking for progress become frustrated and disenfranchised. I’m reminded of a line from Stealers Wheel:

Clowns to the left of me. Jokers to the right. Here I am, stuck in the middle with you. – Stealers Wheel

Look, I don’t agree with every vote Heitkamp has taken, but I trust her. In fact, I’ve never agreed with every vote of any individual. Self-righteous purity tests are complete nonsense. An elected official who abides by them on either side lacks individuality, thoughtfulness, and leadership. This rigidity is the same sort of tactic used by the Tea Party and was despised by those on the left. Now, it seems to be embraced. That isn’t how this works. Our government is based on compromise, or at least it used to be.