Have our values turned upside down? Reactions to Washington’s political machinations makes one wonder!

After Congressional bipartisanship passed legislation preventing an economic shutdown, pundits talked as if something extraordinarily “patriotic” had happened. Are they suggesting that bipartisanship is so rare it’s almost time for its obituary? If so, how tragic!

Is bipartisanship that unusual? Is working “across the aisle” a thing of the past? Have elected officials become more interested in what guarantees their next election than what’s good for the nation?

Exceedingly it seems that way. The surprise at the bipartisan success in passing the legislation only testifies to the growing distortions in our political systems.

Today’s growing extremism is the culprit. Increasingly too many have retreated into such unalterably single-mindedness that any accommodation with alternate views is impossible. The result is legislative stagnation!

In 1860, William Henry Seward fully expected to be the Republican presidential candidate. His loss to Abraham Lincoln at the Chicago convention was utterly demoralizing – especially since he viewed Lincoln as a back woods bumpkin.

Upon election, Lincoln invited Seward to the prestigious cabinet position – Secretary of State. Soon, Lincoln’s former rival became a crucial supporter of the new president during the Civil War’s dangerous days.

Apparently in those days, rivalry was simply the forum where differences were resolved – not where they festered. In spite of the intensity of one’s former position (one’s “extremism”), the ultimate good of the nation prevailed overcoming strongly held differences.

One wishes such “patriotism” – if that’s the word – was more prevalent today – so it would not be surprising when legislators find ways to work together for the good of the nation.

William A. McCartney