Let's have a show of hands by people who are fed up with the way politics is practiced in America. Activists, party operatives, media guest bookers interested in conflict, not resolution of problems and all fund-raisers, put your hands down. The rest of you pay attention.
On Jan. 7 in Oklahoma City comes what may be the best chance we've had in a long time to begin to end the polarization and partisanship that has gripped our political system for more than three decades, a political system that benefits a limited few and harms most of the rest of us.
Conveners of the meeting include several prominent Democrats: former senators Sam Nunn of Georgia, Charles Robb of Virginia and David Boren of Oklahoma, and former presidential candidate Gary Hart. Republican organizers include: Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, former Republican Party chairman Bill Brock, former Missouri senator John Danforth and former New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a former Democrat and former Republican who is now a potential independent candidate for president, will also attend. There is speculation Bloomberg might use the gathering to launch his own candidacy on a fusion model, though he denies it. Boren told The Washington Post, "It is not a gathering to urge any one person to run for president or to say there necessarily ought to be an independent option. But if we don't see a refocusing of the campaign on a bipartisan approach, I would feel I would want to encourage an independent candidacy."
Cynics might view this gathering of moderate Republicans and Democrats as a Trojan horse for the Hillary Clinton campaign, though a Bloomberg candidacy might take votes from both party candidates. This would be different from when Ross Perot ran in 1992, taking votes away from President George H.W. Bush and handing the election to Bill Clinton who won with only 43 percent of the popular vote.
Still, let's accept this gathering as a sincere attempt to repair our broken politics, unless it proves otherwise. The stated purpose of the meeting is to "go beyond tokenism in building an administration that seeks national consensus" on important issues and problems facing the country. This would mean naming more than a single cabinet member from the opposing party. Any administration committed to consensus must go further, while selecting people who pledge not to undermine the president's policies.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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