The Politics of Politicizing
Oct 31, 2012Posted by Chuck Rocha
America was a different country in 1942. When faced with the crisis of war, the citizens of this nation did not collapse into partisan bickering. We came together to face the challenge at hand. Housewives became factory workers. Children collected materials that could be reused for critical needs. Everyday Americans did all that they could for the war effort - they saw the crisis in the world around them, and they responded. The delineation between soldier and citizen disappeared - as did the line between Republican and Democrat.
70 years later, our country faces another crisis - one not marked by bombs or bullets, grenades or gunfire. The challenge we face today is an economic crisis unlike this nation has seen in generations. The burgeoning growth that once defined this country now seems like a distant memory. And while things are slowly getting better, far too many Americans are unemployed, underemployed, or underwater on their mortgages.
There is plenty of blame to go around - and plenty has - on both sides. Unfortunately, instead of coming together as we did during World War II, our so-called leaders have responded by politicizing the issues and dividing citizens. It is time to end our policy of politicization, and work together to find solutions - just as we did 70 years ago.
Most everyday Americans understand this. Unfortunately, too many of our leaders in Washington - the ones who wield the power to actually affect change - continue to favor labeling possible solutions with partisan rhetoric. And when those with power politicize issues and possible solutions, the American people suffer.
I want to offer two examples of issues that, if we put politics aside, could truly help our economy, our nation, and our future.
The first is the development and implementation of green jobs. There is nearly no debate anymore among American citizens, from both red and blue states, that green jobs provide real employment solutions - and that more (green) jobs would be a good thing. In addition, investment in green technologies produces more well-paying jobs that cannot be outsourced while reducing our dependence on foreign oil.
However, politicians consistently choose to politicize the issue. If you support green jobs, you're an out-of-touch, tree-hugging hippie. If you're against them, you're an oil-drilling, Earth-hating polluter. There is no compromise, no middle ground. And in the midst of all the labeling and name-calling, any real discussion on the implementation of green jobs is lost. At a time when our nation's unemployment rate is far too high, our representatives would rather politicize than work together to create a new, viable job sector.
Another issue that sorely suffers from politicization is that of immigration. Politicians have long made immigration a hot-button issue for voters - although now, most everyday citizens agree that comprehensive immigration reform is necessary to boost our nation's productivity. Immigrants are a general net positive on the nation's economy. They bring a diverse set of skills and backgrounds when they come to the U.S. Immigrants start new businesses and file patents at a higher rate than U.S. born citizens.
Nevertheless, politicians have made the issue of immigration as divisive as possible, injecting themes of race and nationalism on both sides of the debate. In addition, anti-immigrant policies undermine what has proven to be a positive force in the American economy: an influx of young, eager-to-work immigrants. Unfortunately, despite the fact that these immigrants are willing and able to re-start the American economy, politicians are perpetually working to shut down this vital part of our nation's potential recovery.
In 1942, the threat was real and did not discriminate along party lines. In much the same way, the threat of America's economic insolvency does not discriminate between red and blue - it affects us all. While much has changed since WWII, we are still a great nation whose citizens have, time and again, put aside petty differences to face a common challenge.
It is time for our leaders to be as brave. True economic recovery will only begin when our representatives begin to work together for common-sense solutions -- and end the policy of politicization.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Center for National Policy.
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