Home
In this issue
April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov 21, 2011 / 24 Mar-Cheshvan 5772

Today's polarized politics . . . blame FDR and the political scientists

By David M. Shribman




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | If you are looking for someone to blame for the polarized nature of our politics today, here are two nominees: Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The political-science establishment.

Together they set out the argument for the situation we have in Washington -- a Republican Party loaded with conservatives, a Democratic Party larded with liberals, and few in between. The result has been gridlock, rancor and a sense of despair if not hopelessness in the capital and across the country.

We have a political landscape where it is possible to argue that the most conservative Democrats in Congress today are more liberal than the most liberal Republicans. There is virtually no overlap, no real party dissenters of the sort who were unacceptable to FDR, who wanted a party of ideological purity, and who were inexplicable to political scientists, who looked longingly at the ideologically disciplined parties in Europe and wondered why American parties so defied logic.

But today, FDR and the political-science establishment having had their way, the United States has its most ideologically aligned party system in modern history -- and perhaps the biggest political crisis in modern history.

Party caucuses always have reinforced party discipline, but for the first time both caucuses are enforcing ideological discipline as well. In the course of their work, lawmakers almost never encounter views that depart from their own, almost never form friendships with their political adversaries. If they don't practice ideological compromise inside their own parties, they are less likely -- less able -- to practice it on the floor of both houses of Congress.

"We finally got ideological purity, and it's a disaster for the country," says former Gov. Angus King of Maine, an Independent. "We have ideological gridlock. You can't solve problems this way."

Indeed, the lack of a middle in the American political class is the American problem. The irony is that the American problem repeatedly has been held up as the American solution.

The most prominent advocate for ideologically aligned parties was Roosevelt, who once told Sam Rosenman, a White House speechwriter and the first White House counsel, "We ought to have two real parties -- one liberal and the other conservative."

FDR set out to create just that with his effort to purge conservatives and New Deal foes from the Democratic Party. He singled out, among others, Walter F. George of Georgia, Ellison D. "Cotton Ed" Smith of South Carolina and Millard Tydings of Maryland, all of whom prevailed against the onslaught of White House opprobrium.

Susan Dunn, a Williams College historian who has written the definitive account of the Roosevelt offensive, said the president's biggest blunder "was to undertake the purge in the absence of impressive challengers to conservative incumbents."

That very likely is true. For whatever reason, the mushy party system prevailed -- and had unforeseen consequences even for Roosevelt. Many of the most ardent opponents of the New Deal turned out to be the most ardent supporters of the president's initiatives in foreign affairs, supporting Roosevelt on Lend-Lease, so much so that party alignment was doomed as World War II approached.

It gained new life a dozen years later, however, when the American Political Science Review published a landmark article called "Toward a More Responsible Two-Party System," which argued that American parties needed "sufficient internal cohesion" and a "degree of unity within the parties" that they lacked at mid-century. At that time, the Democratic Party had such conservatives as Sen. Harry F. Byrd Sr. of Virginia, Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina and a series of Southern committee chairmen. The Republicans Party had such liberals as Gov. Earl Warren of California, Rep. Clifford P. Case of New Jersey and Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. of Massachusetts.

The political scientists' report echoed scholarly critiques dating back a half century, when important figures like Woodrow Wilson, then a prominent political scientist, and Herbert Croly, an important thinker in the Progressive movement and the co-founder of The New Republic, raised questions about the American party system.

"However one may deplore that system, he must concede that it has displayed, if nothing else, a very impressive ability to survive," Austin Ranney, then a political scientist at the University of Illinois and later the chairman of the political science department at the University of California at Berkeley, wrote in a contemporary critique of the 1950 report.

One reason the old system survived for so long is that the multiplicity of interests and ideologies inside American parties imposed the sorts of restraints on the majority that Americans liked, much like the checks and balances and separation of powers designed in the Constitution to protect the rights and viewpoints of the minority.

Now we have just the kind of political-party system Roosevelt and the political scientists envisioned. We are living the future, and it does not work.

"When the political scientists were thinking about these things in the 1950s, they were focusing on the good things the 'more responsible' party system might bring," says Larry M. Bartels, the co-director of Vanderbilt University's Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions. "Now that we're living it, we see a lot of the bad consequences. Now political scientists are wringing their hands about the negative implications of polarization."

A recent National Journal study showed that every Republican member of the Senate has a voting record to the right of every Democratic member of the Senate and that only five House Republicans have a voting record to the left of Rep. Gene Taylor of Mississippi, the Democrat with the most conservative voting record. The journal has been conducting these studies since 1982. Only once before, in 1999, did the Senate have a profile like it does today.

In an important retrospective on the 1950 political scientists' report published on its 50th anniversary, UCLA political scientist Barbara Sinclair argued that the modern parties "do represent a clearer policy message than they did 50 years ago."

She's right. If you vote for a Republican today, you are very likely voting for a conservative, and if you vote for a Democrat you are very likely voting for a liberal. That's clear. One other thing also is clear: The political system is a lot worse off.

Comment by clicking here.

David Shribman, a Pulitzer Prize winner in journalism, is executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


Previously:



11/11/11The sporting life
11/07/11 Ron Paul, true believer
10/31/11 Why Cain isn't able
10/10/11 GOP starting over
10/03/11 The Forgotten War of 1812
09/26/11 The way we live now
09/19/11 The crisis this time
09/11/11 But what will it mean?
09/05/11 A horse race column: Who might win the GOP nomination and how it might unfold
08/29/11 The vacuum calls
08/22/11 Passion and politics: How Barack Obama and Mitt Romney got crowded into the same dangerous corner
08/15/11 Eleanor's little village
08/08/11 The agony of August
08/01/11 The politics of the impossible: What a country this might be if the political class served the broad interests of the majority
07/25/11 Pennant fever grips 'Burgh
07/18/11 Exemplar of an era
07/11/11 On summer
07/04/11 The soul of the party
06/27/11 What the Secretary said
06/20/11 Romney has big advantages over his rivals, but they will be coming after him
06/06/11 One question each
05/30/11 The 14-week challenge
05/23/11 Delay tactics
05/16/11 Republicans are waiting
05/09/11 Bin Laden is dead. What does it mean?
05/02/11 From nobodies to nominees
04/25/11 The founders left slavery for future generations to settle, and we still haven't fully come to terms with it
04/18/11 From audacious to cautious
04/11/11 Dreaming of space
12/12/10 The GOP takes control
12/06/10 DECEMBER 7
11/29/10 GOP presidential hopefuls already are lining up local supporters in what is now a red state
11/22/10 Burning down the House
11/15/10 Institutions of higher learning are finally beginning to teach important lifeskills
11/04/10 The war has just begun
11/01/10 Echoes of a speech 40 years ago this week still resonate today
10/25/10 50 years ago America chose between two men who were dramatically different --- and eerily similar





© 2011, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Distributed by Universal Uclick, as agent for UFS.

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles