Cal Thomas: The dangers of extreme partisanship


MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Thursday, July 11th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: And I’m Megan Basham. Commentator Cal Thomas says one politician’s disgust over party politics is worth pondering.

CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: Last week Congressman Justin Amash left the Republican Party. He will now represent Michigan’s third congressional district as an independent. 

In a Washington Post op-ed, he wrote—quote—“I’ve become disenchanted with party politics and frightened by what I see from it. The two-party system has evolved into an existential threat to American principles and institutions.” End quote. 

In response, President Trump called Amash “a total loser” who was unlikely to win a primary election next year against a Republican challenger.

Well, no one is a total loser and some of Amash’s concerns ought to be of interest to more of us. The parties are as divided as ever. Re-election via nonstop fundraising seems to be the primary goal of many in Congress.

The Founders never intended politics to become a career. They were farmers, lawyers, businesspeople and average citizens who saw service to their country as a duty and a privilege, not a lifestyle. Most returned home to their real jobs after serving the nation for a brief time. Many of today’s politicians serve for decades with no real connection to the people they serve.

Instead of clashes between parties whose interests do not promote the general welfare, candidates should debate ideas that have a proven track record of working—regardless of which party proposes them. 

In his op-ed, Amash wrote—quote—“The parties value winning for its own sake, and at whatever cost. … In this hyper-partisan environment, congressional leaders use every tool to compel party members to stick with the team, dangling chairmanships, committee assignments, bill sponsorships, endorsements and campaign resources. As donors recognize the growing power of party leaders, they supply these officials with ever-increasing funds, which, in turn, further tightens their grip on power.” End quote. 

Amash is right, but who is most at fault? Isn’t it we who vote for and allow them to stay in power? Too many voters are compromised by what they get from government.

Our 30th president, Calvin Coolidge—who was born here in the tiny hamlet of Plymouth Notch in 1872—had abundant wisdom on numerous subjects. He said, “The aim of our government is to protect the weak—to aid them to become strong.” 

That last part is key. Too many politicians want to subsidize the weak in their weakness, addicting them to government programs. Where in the recent debate among Democratic presidential candidates did you hear anything about government helping people to become less dependent on it and more independent of it?

Amash may not win re-election, but we should all take seriously his critique of the dangers of extreme partisanship. Winning the battle of ideas ought to be paramount, not just beating members of the other party. 

Calvin Coolidge—a total winner—would approve.

For WORLD Radio in Plymouth Notch, Vermont, I’m Cal Thomas.


(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File ) In this June 12, 2019 file photo, Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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