The Senate debates about the war in Iraq and the President’s proposed troop heavy-up was interesting to listen to last week. I would give it an A+ rating in terms of drama, rhetoric, and research. In fact, I heard some of the best political speeches presented in years. The entire process in the Senate amounted to nothing more than a series of vote-for-me-and-my-party presentations. Again and again, leaders who took the floor wanted to make themselves look like the defenders of American life compared to their opponents which they demonized and vilified.
What both parties were doing last week was waging an internal, political war – while the real war rages outside. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that these matters should not be discussed. Quite the contrary, there needs to be meaningful dialogue. Unfortunately, the way this process was conducted, it tends to encourage people to pander to their base, quote the party line, and offer no real solutions. Further, since every American has an opinion about the war, many of us are waiting to hear who agrees with our unique slant on Iraq, Islam, and the Middle East.
In addition to the dramatics which are raging inside the Senate chambers, another group of political leaders (including several Senators) are vying for the opportunity to sit in the President’s chair. On the Democratic side are Barak Obama , Hillary Clinton, and other, lesser-known political luminaries. On the Republican side we find Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and John McCain - to name just a few.
Both inside and outside of the Senate, American political opportunists are seizing the moment to appeal to the public. It is clear that the 2008 election cycle has already begun at every level. It will be an all-out political war and no prisoners will be taken.
How should the average American view this process? We can conclude that a political stalemate on important national issues will continue. Unfortunately many of the men and women elected to bring a fresh perspective to the Congress and Senate, are bringing little more than politics-as-usual. If Americans voted for change in 2006, it will soon be apparent to all that we have only changed the personalities – not the process.
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.