KATIE ZERR: Obstructionism is harmful to country

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Having a strong third party in American politics historically has been seen as an avenue for change of the status quo. Third parties are supposed to be good for our country and push Democrats and Republicans to move away from party lines and towards what is best for their constituents.

Unfortunately, that is not happening right now with Tea Party members.

It is not that having a third party deeply involved in U.S. politics is not beneficial. History proves that issues championed by third parties are often the reason changes occur in the major parties with Republican and Democrats adopting some of those issues as their own.

Third parties can cause a shift in a sitting president’s campaign as in H. Ross Perot’s 1992 campaign and the significant impact it had on American politics because it forced President Clinton to devote greater attention to the nation’s budget deficit, one issue that Perot had used to great advantage.

That campaign emphasized how the power of an independent candidate with a strong base of financial support can change an election. He succeeded in winning about 20 percent of the popular vote in 1992.

That is how third parties can positively impact American politics.

The Tea Party, though based on solid principals, has not become the party that changes attitudes on issues, but has become a party of obstructionists who have widened the political chasm between the two parties.

Because of their strength in numbers, the Tea Party is a force with which to be reckoned but also a party that has become drunk on that success.

Instead of pushing for changes in the status quo, the party has become the hurdles to compromise on issues of national importance.

There is no compromise in the Tea Party. That is the problem. The radical Tea Party base is extremely vocal in reminding their candidates of the reasons they are in positions of power.

Long-time Republican Senator Richard Luger of Indiana, was recently defeated in the primary election in that state. He saw the writing on the wall and in a letter to his constituents, hit the nail on the head about the influence the Tea Party is having on Congress.

“Unfortunately, we have an increasing number of legislators in both parties who have adopted an unrelenting partisan viewpoint. This shows up in countless vote studies that find diminishing intersections between Democrat and Republican positions. Partisans at both ends of the political spectrum are dominating the political debate in our country. And partisan groups, including outside groups that spent millions against me in this race, are determined to see that this continues. They have worked to make it as difficult as possible for a legislator of either party to hold independent views or engage in constructive compromise. If that attitude prevails in American politics, our government will remain mired in the dysfunction we have witnessed during the last several years.

“And I believe that if this attitude expands in the Republican Party, we will be relegated to minority status. Parties don’t succeed for long if they stop appealing to voters who may disagree with them on some issues.”

There needs to be change in our government. This division and political polarization is hurting this country and hurting Americans. Accomplishing nothing but blocking compromise is more than disturbing. It is destructive.

The Tea Party’s open disdain for anything associated with President Obama borders on hate and in some cases, racism.

The disrespect for him that is tolerated is shocking.

Disagree with the man’s politics, on his stand on issues and his political ideals, call him stupid, or a incompetent leader, but to openly call for his elimination because he is a traitor to his country is outlandish.

The fear of the strength of the Tea Party in the Republican ranks is alarming. The Tea Party’s ability to intimidate leadership into not taking a stand against some of the rhetoric is almost frightening.

It is time for Republican leadership to push back the Tea Party radicals and to push their ideas of change, rather than obstruction, to top billing.

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