Entries in Partisanship (2)


Filmmaker Turns Lens on Partisanship in Washington

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Bill Malone interviewed former senator Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., for his documentary ‘Patriocracy.’ The veteran politician gave a candid summary of the partisan politics plaguing Washington of late.

“Just holler, ‘Bull sh*t!'” said Simpson, craning his head upwards to mimic shouting the expletive to the rooftops. “And let it ring through the land. That may be our credo, we may make it if we can do that, because everybody of any sense or status in life knows what bull sh*t is.”

Partisanship gridlock is the worst it has ever been, according to several characters that appear in Malone’s new film.

“I don’t think we look at government the right way, and a lot of it is the way we look at it,” Malone told ABC’s Top Line Friday. “Instead of looking at the differences we need to look at the similarities.”

“If you look at American history, much of American history, and the reason why American democracy has survived as long as it has is because of a spirit of compromise and collaboration,” he continued.

Yet as evidenced by the Republican presidential race, voters tend to reward extreme, partisan views, fueling politicians with a strong incentive to veer sharply to the left or right. Malone blames, in part, apathetic American voters for the extreme politics.

“There is a problem with getting smart thinking, well-minded people involved in politics,” said Malone. But he argues that “if people really knew what was at stake, and how these decisions in Washington were affecting their everyday lives, they would make the extra effort, and I think the time has come for Americans to really step up.”

Historically, American politics has had its fair share of boiling tempers. This is a country where founding fathers shot at each other in a dual, and people were beaten in the House of Representatives, after all. But Malone says that is an unfair comparison.

“Back in the early days of Congress when people were getting hit with canes or people brought -- Congressmen, Senators -- brought hunting dogs onto the Senate floor, they didn’t have the 24/7 news cycle that constantly fed viewers and voters what they wanted to hear, and reinforced in many cases their stereotypes, their fears and misinformation,” said Malone.

The filmmaker said several members of Congress told him they were frustrated that they can’t even walk from the House or Senate floor to their office buildings without seeing all the networks commenting on a bill they just voted on.

“So it’s hard for them to get perspective and I think that’s what we all need, we all need a little perspective.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


No Labels Movement Seeks to Thwart Party System

Photo Courtesy - No Labels [dot] org(WASHINGTON) -- If the goal of No Labels, a bipartisan group launched Monday to increase civility and cooperation in American politics, was to find common ground for partisans from both sides of the aisle, it was successful.

Conservative and liberal activists could agree on one thing -- they hate No Labels.

"I think it's naive to remove partisanship form politics," conservative radio host Dana Loesch told ABC News.  "Politics are a competition and the winning side sets the agenda.  There's such a wide gap in what both sides believe, it's hard to compromise on anything actually important."

From the opposite end of the political spectrum, liberal blogger Matt Yglesias wrote a post titled "In Praise of Labels," arguing that "the idea that partisanship itself is somehow a bad thing" was misguided.

But beyond an adherence to their own ideologies, some of the skepticism over No Labels derives from what some see as the group's real mission -- not just singing Kumbaya on the Capitol steps, but generating enough interest, support and treasure for a viable third presidential candidate come 2012.

Enter the headliner at the No Labels kickoff, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who spoke before 1,000 No Labels supporters Monday -- a day after flatly denying he had any presidential aspirations on NBC's Meet the Press.

The organizers of No Labels include Democratic fundraiser Nancy Jacobson and Republican strategist Mark McKinnon, who advised George W. Bush and John McCain in their presidential bids.  They have said the event held Monday on Bloomberg's home turf was not intended as a launch platform for Bloomberg, but that hasn't quelled the speculation.

McKinnon has said the movement is not intended to be a third party.  It plans to form a political action committee to support moderate candidates from both parties, and has already raised $1 million in seed donations.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio