In President Obama’s State of the Union address this week he acknowledged the partisanship that has so frustrated Americans and prevented political action by calling it a “poisoned political era.”
Today he went to a meeting of Republicans. Obama took questions and defended his positions for more than an hour at the House Republicans Annual Meeting in Baltimore. It was televised live and that makes it unlike those that former President George W. Bush attended with Democrats during his administration and the one that Obama did last year. Television provides a transparency that we so desperately need. After all, seeing is believing and far too often we rely of what others say about an event, speech or document instead of watching, reading and deciding for ourselves.
During today’s meeting, Republicans voiced anger that their ideas and proposals were ignored by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and said that this culture has pervaded his administration. Republicans handed Obama a book of all their proposals and alternative solutions to current legislative initiatives. Obama acknowledged fault on both sides, but said he has read Republican suggestions and incorporates the good ones.
Obama said not having more communication between the legislative leaders of the major parties was “a failure on my part” and that he would try to do more on that issue this year.
Republicans also confronted the president for breaking promises on transparency referring to the many commitments he made during his campaign about televising debates on healthcare. He defended this by saying most congressional hearings on healthcare were televised on C-SPAN, but did admit it was a legitimate criticism and took responsibility.
Obama said he was having fun towards the end of the meeting. You know what? An intellectual exchange of ideas is fun. That’s what argument really is. It’s not name calling and pointing fingers. We can disagree in the country. That’s what makes America so great. In order to be critical thinkers, we must talk and listen to those with different ideas. Partisanship has prevented this and perhaps today opened the door to a more productive era.