Contrariness

I got to thinking about the polarization in our country that the press keeps talking about and concluded that’s not quite correct.

We’ve had two major political parties since 1797, organized by people who care about our government with shared ideas and principles. In the course of our history, we’ve had Federalists and Anti-Federatists, Whigs, National Union, Republicans, and Democrats as major parties.

Today we have Democrats and Republicans. There are many differences between the parties on taxes, social issues, and the environment, to name only a few.

The US also has an established framework of government which theoretically allows the major parties to act to help its citizens. Over time this system has worked, albeit imperfectly, “to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”

This looks like a reasonable arrangement to me, with the two parties working together and using compromise to craft policies and produce laws. Over the past 50 years, however, the Republican party has moved to a stance of what I’ll call chronic contrariness. Pundits and some Democrats have called it the Party of No.

Contrariness is defined as “deliberate and stubborn unruliness and resistance to guidance or discipline.” It’s a constant and predictable opposition, often without substance or reason and describes the GOP today. When I look at their behavior I say to myself “how would I like to have someone like that around all the time?” I’d never get anything done and pretty soon I’d think I was going crazy.

Pretty much nails it.

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