Thursday, November 11, 2004

Recent commentary: Reaching out

(published 11-Nov-2004, Appleton Post-Crescent)

Someone [Mina Bose, associate professor of political science at West Point] pointed out that Thomas Jefferson “reached out” to the rival Federalists during his 1801 inauguration speech. He said, “We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists.” But he began immediately to implement his own vision for the course of the nation.

The Alien and Sedition Act was allowed to expire; the Louisiana Purchase was effected over the constitutional objections of the Federalists; the Judiciary Act of 1801 was repealed (having been signed just three weeks before the end of John Adams’ term); and the judges named by Adams to fill the new judicial posts created by the Act were eliminated by Congress. Jefferson didn’t “reach out;” he exercised his prerogatives as president even though there was an even split in the Electoral College.

So, why is George Bush supposed to “reach out” to Democrats again? Seems to me that the Republicans have built their base of support over the last few decades; the Democrats can’t seem to understand that their platform is kind of shaky now. Though one can only hope that they continue to sic Barbra Streisand, Michael Moore, Alec Baldwin, Terry McAuliffe and Bill Clinton on us for the next four years, they may be better advised to examine the electorate more closely — that majority that voted for Bush — and move themselves closer to American issues and values.

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