Dr. Eugene T. Paslov: Are Republicans capable of rational political discussion?
I have apparently tweaked the sensibilities of a small group of neo-conservatives who lash out at me for any criticism of Congressional Republicans. They also recoil at my criticism of local and state anti-government, anti-public school, anti-intellectual ideologues.
Some Nevada Appeal letter writers claim that I am a radical because I support the president. They imply I am unpatriotic because I believe Sen. Reid is an effective legislator who has helped Nevada.
My, my, how cynical are these critics.
Many of these vocal antagonists appear to be concerned that I have attacked the Republicans as the party of “no.” But note that the president in his State of the Union remarks commented that saying no to everything may be good politics, but it’s not good leadership. He’s right.
Soon after President Obama was elected (Nevadans supported him), the Republican Congressional leadership set out to block anything the president initiated, including delaying/killing stimulus programs and health care efforts. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C. even said killing health care will be Obama’s “Waterloo.”
To some extent this strategy has worked politically, but it has not worked for the American public. We need to continue to stimulate the economy and create jobs; we must have affordable health care for all, plus a variety of other domestic and international efforts.
Most disconcerting is what these critics believe to be factual. I understand that “truth” in politics may be oxymoronic. It’s quite complex to determine if something is entirely correct or totally false. But the critics appear to have “divine knowledge” about what is true, or at least what they’ve been told is true. They claim congressional Democrats refused to allow Republicans to participate in health care reform bills. They reiterate claims about “death panels,” or that the president was not born in the U.S. None of this was true.
The fact is that the health care bill was not written in secrecy; there were herculean efforts to get Congressional Republicans to work with the Democrats in both the House and Senate. Congressional Republicans made a political decision. They refused. There was a Republican campaign of misinformation. Sen. Grassley, R-Iowa, was talking about death panels for vets embedded in the health care bill late in the discussion of health care. He knew that was not true – just fear-mongering and misinformation.
Let’s stop this nonsense. The president is again trying to work with the Congressional Republicans, meeting with House Republicans in a recent retreat. Republicans must act responsibly, be accountable and make contributions for the public good. Will they?
• Eugene Paslov is a board member of the Davidson Academy at the University of Nevada, Reno and the former Nevada state superintendent of schools.