This past week, President Obama met with leaders of both parties in a televised summit designed to enable each party to publicly state their positions on health care reform. Ostensibly, the summit’s purpose was to find common ground between the parties but the only common ground was the line drawn in the sand between the two parties.
The summit did make clear each party’s fundamental view of the role of the federal government. This debate has continued for two centuries and, as I noted in an earlier post, James Madison crafted the debate into this country’s Constitution as the only solution to keep the confederation of states unified into a single country.
During the seven hour summit, Mr. Obama probably put the core issue most succinctly. After saying that the public could see the difference in each party’s position, he said “that’s what elections are for.” He could have been referring to the past election, which gave the Democratic Party a clear mandate for change. In a subtle way, he may have been referring to the upcoming November elections – let the voters decide which position they prefer.
What muddies the political waters are the independents and the “in-betweeners”, those who think that a limited role for federal government should not be as limited as Republican ideologues argue for. On the other hand, these “middle-of-the-roaders” may see the large role of the federal government espoused by Democrats as too intrusive.
Politicians are prone to explain things in nutty sports metaphors, as though the general public had only a 4th grade education. So, in case you have only a 4th grade education or are a lover of stupid metaphors, let me explain it this way: it’s like there’s cows on one side of the fence and sheep on the other side of the fence. The sheep believe in eating the grass all the way down to the ground. The cows believe that they should leave a bit more of the grass blade showing so that the grass can regenerate. A bunch of people sit on the fence trying to figure out which side of the fence they’re going to jump on.