In all of Thomas Sowell's prophetic work, one simple quote is among my favorites, "Most people on the left do not oppose freedom. They are just in favor of all sorts of things that are incompatible with freedom." In that vein, Republicans don't so much oppose bipartisanship. They just fall prey to all sorts of things that aren't actually bipartisan.
According to Senator Mark Udall's website, over 50 Representatives -- of the 100 Senators, and 435 Representatives -- have pledged to sit with a member of the "opposite party" during tonight's State of the Union address. In a letter to Speaker Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Mitch McConnell, "a bipartisan seating arrangement would remind members of their common commitment to serve the American people." (thehill.com). At least until Democrats have control of the House again.
Not since "We Are The World" ended famine and brought prosperity to Africa, has there been such hope in the chambers of the US Congress; the most partisan entity on earth, by design. Like the telekinetic, Carrie, at her Bates High prom, sometimes it's hard to see the truth for the blood libel.
It's time to set up the jumbotron, and bring in the ‘kiss cam.' The scrolling dialogue will make it all the easier for Democrats to know when to stand and "applaud," and Republicans to know when to "sit and be quiet." Boys are always after the elusive date that can't say, "no" -- but this begs the question -- if not "no," what about "repeal," "deregulate," and "investigate," Republicans?
The ‘gesture' of tonight's "Bipartisan Night to Remember" was proposed by the Washington think tank, Third Way. In a January 11th Washington Post Op-Ed piece, "This year's address, set for later this month, occurs in a changed Washington. Divided government has returned with Republican control of the House. The shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) has sparked a debate about the implications of extreme political rhetoric."
Again (and again and again) with the incivility of the conservative killer who wasn't. Only tonight when the blame is laid, Democrats can cheer the accusation next to a Republican in a visual confirmation worthy of a Quincy Jones' ballad of peace, love, and good intentions.
Gabrielle Giffords happens to be an honorary co-chair of the Third Way think tank, along with close to another dozen Members of Congress, and its very accomplished Founders and policy directors. For all intents and purposes, Third Way is quite a civil organization.
According to its literature, Third Way is "an innovative and influential think-tank that creates and advances moderate policy and political ideas." It is also billed as a "beyond-ideology think tank." As noted by, David Brooks, David Broder, Politico, Joe Klein, EJ Dionne, and the New York Times, to name a few. They are, after all, the poster children for a media free of ideology. Third Way's Facebook page tags itself the "leading moderate think tank of the progressive movement."
Is Third Way moderate, or progressive? Is there a difference among Democrats? For many of us on the right our beliefs are without question, or narrative. Moderate is quite civil, but also rather bland. Like saying you believe in gun rights only on opposite days of the week. Progressive is another word entirely.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of "moderate" is avoiding extremes of behavior or expression -- reasonable limits having average qualities.
The definition of "progressive," also from Merriam-Webster, is one who believes in moderate political change and especially social improvement by governmental action.
Third Way's website is filled with great ideas, including border security, gun rights, and tough stances against crime, including illegal immigration. And not so 'moderate' government solutions such as the D.R.E.A.M Act, START Treaty, a National Infratstructure Bank, and the innocuous clean energy, also with ‘moderate' solutions. Along with policy recommendations are featured "Culture Message Quick References," or talking points, because it's not actions or policy that actually sell, but messaging. Or, in Third Way's own words,
To better connect with key demographic groups like moderates and independents, and to get a fair hearing on other pressing issues like the economy and national security, progressives need to handle culture issues carefully so the lens Americans see them through is not distorted.
The following messages will help progressives define themselves on hot-button issues by identifying shared values while staying true to progressive principles.
Third Way is, in and of itself, the best analogy for the President's message(ing) tonight.
In a preview video released on January 22nd, The President said, he's "under pressure to energize the economy." Because not doing so is, apparently, so last year. "I'm focused on making sure the economy is working for everybody, for the entire American family." This is a straightforward statement -- dare I say, moderate -- unless you're a progressive, a President with a grudge, or both. When an ideologue "comes to the center" it's not so much a move, as an altering of the narrative. And, the narrative still includes "social improvement by governmental action."
President Obama will, no doubt, make a move to the ‘moderate.' But a MOVE to the middle requires a move from another thinking. It's one thing to respond to the will of the people, and another to believe Obama is capable of denying the ideology that is his impetus for more government.
In the end, Obama's concession to move middle, is the narrative in and of itself, wrapped in a big, bipartisan seating bow.