Our broken politics

The Bush era has done great damage to Washington's ability to meet important challenges.  We know the story - big mistakes, challenges not met, extraordinary betrayal of the public trust.  In 2006 voters asked for a new chapter in the American story.  What we now know well into 2007 that this new chapter will not come quickly.  It will take years and a great deal of work to move past this disapointing and damaging era of politics. 

There are many examples of how Bushism will be with us for years to come.  The right-leaning Roberts court.  The continued erosion of American support for globalization and trade liberalization.  A Middle East more difficult than before.  But to me the most graphic example of our hard it is going to be bring the parties and the American people together to solve our common problems is what happened with the immigration bill last week. 

We have written about this often so I wont repeat other than to say that if anything was to pass in this Congress it was the immigration bill.  It had broad and deep bi-partisan support.  It passed the Republican controlled Senate last year.  It had a remarkable coalition behind it, including leaders of labor, the Catholic Church, business and immigrant rights groups.  It was supported by the most powerful leaders in Washington including the President, John McCain, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.  And yet it still didnt pass. 

For progressives, we have several tasks ahead.  First to stay focused on solving problems not playing politics.  We need to get things done that improve the lives of average Americans.  Second, and perhaps most importantly, is that we cannot let these disapointing years cause us to doubt the power and goodness of the American experiment itself.  We have overcome much greater challenges before.  And though the array of challenges in front of us are great, and urgent, at our very core we must believe that they can met and tackled with the same sense of can-do optimism as this remarkable nation has met similar times of trial and trouble in our past.  This is no time for retreat, for withdrawal, for accepting the limited and cramped vision of the Bush era.   Our task now must be to re-imagine the goodness, and greatness, of America, and apply our creed and values to the newly emergent challenges of this new century. 

It is not the day that it is dark.  It has been our response to it.  And that we have the power to change.  But it is not going to be quick, easy, inexpensive and clean.  We have years of hard work ahead of us to move America beyond the broken politics of the Bush era.