One of the things Andrew Sullivan
"knows" isn't so…
I know it is the opposition's role to oppose.
To be fair, it's true enough in a tautological sense, and might be true in a country with a parliamentary system, but there's no role for an opposition in the Constitutional framework of the United States government.
It was a common complaint under Bush II that the Democrats weren't firm enough in opposition, and it's been a similarly common to complain that the Republicans have been overly aggressive in their opposition of late.
Both complaints derive from a common root - Democrats embrace the principles of Constitutional goveequarnment Republicans don't. Those principles don't include partisan opposition for its own sake. They don't, if fact, include partisan opposition at all. The conflict outlined in the Constitution is between the co-equal branches of government, not between parties, or, as the framers put it, "factions," within the branches.
In fact, though factions formed and transformed into parties before the framer's eyes, they were largely successful in suppressing the impact of partisanship by establishing a Democratic hegemony that lasted from 1800, with the election of Thomas Jefferson, through the historical Era Of Good Feeling, when the Federalists withered to near non-existence, until William Henry Harrison left office in 1844. The counter-revolution that invigorated partisanship culminated in attempted secession and civil war.
It's noteworthy that the counter-revolution that inspires current Republican hyper-partisanship has likewise been accompanied by threats of civil war and secession, not only from cranks but from elected leaders and nominees of the Republican Party. Their extra-Constitutional stance as an "opposition" not only within the bodies to which they've been elected, but to the Executive branch, puts them in the position of officially opposing the effective administration of Constitutional government. It may not be treason, but it's certainly un-American and likely an impeachable violation of their oaths of office.
The Constitution makes no provision for the kind of opposition the Republican Party offers, and the Democratic Party deserves appreciation, if not applause, to the degree that it declines to emulate them when the executive or the legislative majority is of another party. The simple if not easy solution is for the Republican Party to follow the fate of their similarly Constitutional-ly unnecessary forbearers, the Federalists, Whigs, Prohibitionists and Know-Nothings, et.al. and disappear.
Whenever I go on one of my "every Republican must go" kicks, there's feedback to the effect that we somehow need two strong parties. Nonsense. Whenever two strong parties have emerged in American history the Constitution has been threatened. What we need is robust debate, and the Democratic Party's tent is big enough to provide that debate. Since the Constitution is a fundamentally liberal document, the Democratic Party is an inherently liberal institution, but that ideological liberalism is inclusive of a temperamental conservatism which Sullivan defines well as...
...a disposition that respects the institutions and traditions of government, that can give as well as take, that seeks the national interest before partisan concerns, and that respects both the other branches of government and seeks to work with them.
I think that kind of disposition informs the ideas of many "Blue Dog" or "New Democrat"-style conservatives, and while I'd rather not see them prevail on most questions, I understand that people can hold different (as ins "wrong") views than my own in good faith.
That's not true of the ideological Movement Conservatism at the core of today's Republican Party. On this point. Sully's right on...
These people are not conservatives in this core civilized sense; they are partisan vandals.
Regardless of their pseudo-patriotic rhetoric, the object of their vandalism is the Constitution. We don't need 'em.
Like I always say sometimes...
Labels: Andrew Sullivan, Constitution, Democrats, Framers, History, Opposition, Partisanship, Republicans, Un-American