Tag Archives: compromise

Missing the old GOP

Never in a million years would I imagine saying what I am about to say … which is that what passes for today’s Republican Party makes me miss many GOP politicians who once played by a different set of rules.

What we have now competing for votes against Democrats is a party full of craven sycophants, loyal to a twice-impeached, four-times indicted and possibly soon to be felony-convicted former president.

I must stipulate that I do not consider myself to be a loyal Democrat. I am an independent fellow who’s cast over many years plenty of votes for Republicans; none of them have gone to GOP presidential candidates since I began voting in 1972.

If some of the former Republican presidential nominees were running today against the presumed GOP frontrunner in 2024, I surely would consider casting a vote for them. Mitt Romney, John McCain, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush come to mind immediately.

These men were of high honor and integrity. They knew government, understood its many complexities and worked with Democrats frequently to solve national problems.

Of the men I mentioned, I came closest in 1976 to voting for President Ford, who was running for election after having assumed the presidency in a time of national crisis. He was never elected VPOTUS or POTUS, but was the right man at the time to restore honor to a government torn asunder by what was the worst constitutional crisis in history. His pardon of President Nixon a month into his term was a deal-breaker … as I recall it; I since have changed my mind.

I just miss the era when Republicans weren’t so frozen in their loyalty to a single politician that they could suspend their rigidity to work out compromise solutions. I believe truly that is one of the tenets of good government.

Today, though, we see a party held captive by a megalomaniac. Senate Republicans hammered out an immigration deal that would strength border security. The former POTUS didn’t want President Biden to get any credit for solving the crisis, so he put the arm on senators to get ’em to back away. They did and to their everlasting shame, the border deal died a quick and unexpected death.

And why? Because Republicans in the Senate — and the House — lack the guts to do the right thing in spite of what their hero suggests.

I miss the old Republican Party.

Expectations have let me down

My expectation of a transfer to smooth governance from an administration that prided itself on chaos, confrontation and confusion perhaps might have placed too large a burden on the new guys who took over in January 2021.

President Biden’s term in office so far has been anything but smooth, seamless and serene. Indeed, the administration has found itself fighting with Republicans in much the same manner its immediate predecessor fought with Democrats.

Except for one little factor that I had hoped would come into play: President Biden brought decades of legislative and government administrative experience to a task to which Donald J. Trump brought none of the above.

Silly me. I didn’t count — as I should have — on Republican obstructionism born out of the GOP’s anger over the way Democrats responded to Trump getting in the way.

But … it has.

To be sure, the president has been able to claim bipartisan victories on gun legislation and on infrastructure renovation. The number of Republican lawmakers to join their Democratic colleagues has been nominal … and that’s the nice way of saying it.

The recent enactment of the Inflation Reduction Act more or less illustrates a point I intend to make, which is that it is dangerous to govern only with the endorsement of those within your own party. Biden received zero Republican support in the House for the IRA. It took a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Harris to put the bill over the top in the Senate.

I had placed a great deal of faith in my belief that Joe Biden’s many decades in government would buy him some political capital that he could spend on behalf of our needs. My faith was misplaced, I am sorry to acknowledge.

Indeed, the president found himself in hot water with Democratic Party progressives because — and this just kills me — he boasted about how he was able to work with narrow-minded Republicans in pushing through legislation.

I continue to stand with President Biden because I believe in the crux of where he wants to lead this nation. He told us he wants us to treat each other with fairness and compassion. He wants to steer us away from the bitterness we heard daily from the four years his predecessor occupied the White House.

That’s all worth endorsing, at least in principle.

Except that Republicans continue to adhere to the politics of meanness and retribution. I hoped that a better day would have dawned by now. Maybe it will … eventually.


See? Compromise works!

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

“We have a deal.”

So said President Biden today as he announced a bipartisan agreement to overhaul the nation’s infrastructure.

Now … is this the perfect deal? No. It isn’t. It is the product of Democrats and Republicans coming together, demanding things from the other side, then deciding that absent being able to get all the things they wanted in the deal agreed to a package that is a good bit less than what President Biden wanted to spend.

This is how government is supposed to work.

Fascinating! As The Hill reported: Biden acknowledged the deal would not include proposals he’s made for spending to help American families, but firmly endorsed the deal on infrastructure in unusual remarks just outside the White House with the bipartisan group of senators looking on.

The deal agreed upon would spend $1 trillion. It would repair thousands of miles of roads and bridges, provide high-speed Internet to virtually every home in the country.

More from The Hill: The framework includes $579 billion in new spending for a total of $973 billion over five years and just over $1.2 trillion over eight years.

It allocates $312 billion for transportation programs, including roads, bridges, airports and electric vehicles infrastructure. The remaining $266 billion would go to water infrastructure, broadband, environmental remediation, power infrastructure and other areas. 

Biden announces bipartisan deal on infrastructure | TheHill

The deal announced today strikes me as a classic ploy that President Biden played with perfect pitch. He wanted to spend $2.2 trillion — or so he said. Biden might have known from the get-go he wouldn’t persuade GOP members of Congress to agree to spending that kind of dough. So he settled on a still-significant amount of money.

He said he didn’t get all he wanted. Conservatives in Congress didn’t, either. Nor did their progressive friends.

However, the negotiating team of equal numbers of congressional Republicans and Democrats were all smiles today as they announced the framework of a deal.

Let’s get it done. Shall we?

Compromise fuels good government

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The older I get the more I believe in compromise and the less weight I place on the value of long-standing ideology.

Which is my way of suggesting that the haggling that’s occurring over (a) voting rights legislation and (b) infrastructure legislation is a sign of good government trying to find its way into law.

Congress is wrestling with itself over both of those notions. Republicans seem wedded to the “just say ‘no'” theory of government. Anything that comes from the Democratic president, Joseph R. Biden, is deemed DOA the moment it leaves his mouth.

Biden has long prided himself on being able to work with the GOP. He did so with great effect while serving for 36 years as a U.S. senator and then as eight years as vice president. Now, though, he is deemed the enemy of the GOP, even among his once-good friends … such as Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen. Mitch McConnell. Oh well.

He threw a $2.25 trillion infrastructure package at the GOP. He apparently is willing to settle for a lot less than that. Still, most of the Rs ain’t budging. At least not yet.

As for voting rights, the GOP now has taken up the “states’ rights” mantra, contending that the feds shouldn’t interfere with states’ ability to write their own voting rules. Except that the Republican-led states, such as Texas, are seeking to disenfranchise millions of Americans who, as luck would have it, happen to vote mostly Democrat when they get the chance.

The GOP’s other mantra? Voter security, as if there was a huge breach in that security in the 2020 presidential election. Spoiler alert: There wasn’t any such breach!

But the two sides are slogging through an effort to find some level of compromise.

I am a good-government progressive. I am not wedded so much these days to ideology as I am to seeing government work. I want my federal government to work, to serve me and my family; we are paying the freight, along with you.

Stay busy, ladies and gentlemen who serve in government. We demand you find a way to compromise. Or else!

No need to dwell on the negative

I can’t help myself. I cannot stop writing good things about a man I opposed when he was living, but who deserves the tributes and salutes he is receiving now that he is gone.

President George H.W. Bush didn’t get my vote when he ran twice for election and re-election. You know that already.

However, I keep seeing some commentary from liberals/progressives who believe that the 41st president somehow needs to be placed in some sort of “proper context.” They want to shove the negative things about his public life next to the positivity he brought.

I won’t go there. I might, over time, write more critically of Bush 41. Just not now.

I am struck by the notion that his goodness, his decency and his empathy for others stands in the sharpest contrast possible to what we’re seeing and hearing from one of his presidential successors. I refer, of course, to Donald John Trump. But . . . I am going to resist piling on the current president for the time being.

I want to remember the political life that George H.W. Bush represented. He symbolized compromise. Some of his best political friends were — heaven forbid! — Democrats. Yes, this quintessential “establishment Republican” would be seen in the company after hours of Democratic politicians such as, oh, Sonny Montgomery or Dan Rostenkowski. He made friends of all political stripes, not unlike, I should say, the way former Vice President Joe Biden has been able to befriend Republicans as well as his fellow Democrats.

President Bush pledged during the 1988 Republican presidential nominating convention to create a “kinder and gentler nation.” He was only partly successful in achieving that noble goal. It wasn’t for lack of effort on his part. He was a “kind and gentle” man — as well as a gentleman.

The anecdotes and recollections of the late president’s friends tell us so much about the man. Even those who disagreed with him can find plenty of kindness to spread around when remembering his lifetime of service to the nation to which he was so deeply devoted.