The Big Question: Can Democrats and Republicans Agree on Anything?
September 3, 2010 |  by Catherine Pierre

“There are a lot of things we can agree on. We can start by facing reality: Government can’t solve all of our problems, but we have to admit that it can play a role in the solution. For example, it used to not be as big a deal to extend unemployment benefits in hard times. Now, because of demagoguery and political posturing, it takes too much arm wrestling to do what should be a simple thing. I think we can agree that it has to stop.

“I also think we can agree that the quality of our political discourse has deteriorated to a pathetic degree. What we have now is constant hyperbole, fear mongering, and YouTube ‘gotcha’ moments. We’re in an age when access to information is such that I can go for years never reading a word I disagree with. We’re all guilty of spending so much time reading only what we agree with, that when we’re confronted with things we disagree with, we freak out. If we can’t pull back from that and begin to think more critically, we’re going to be in a lot of trouble.

“Finally, we need to return to an era—if one ever existed—when we trusted each other’s motives and intentions. We need to get to the point where we can debate intellectually on policy rather than making personal attacks and questioning people’s patriotism. I think we can agree on that.”

-Daniel Hochman, a senior political science major, is president of the College Democrats at Johns Hopkins.

“As an eternal optimist, I believe there are myriad issues Republicans and Democrats can and should agree on. Despite the efforts of demagogues, mudslingers, and pugnacious groups, our leaders have fought for and preserved many American freedoms. (Recent examples include New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s support of a proposed Manhattan mosque and the Supreme Court’s reaffirmation of the Second Amendment in McDonald v. Chicago.) Now more than ever, we face a turbulent road ahead, against international, social, and especially financial pressures, for which our government needs true leadership by those capable of discarding partisanship for progress. Both sides of the aisle can agree that our country is in desperate need of health care, insurance, immigration, tax, and other reforms.

“In my home state of New Jersey (notorious for Democratic partisanship), recently elected Republican Governor Chis Christie has accomplished a multitude of significant reforms by working with the largely Democratic (and traditionally inept) legislature. The governor’s bipartisan success in curbing the state’s multibillion-dollar deficit is analogous to the nation’s need to surmount its financial woes. I think we can agree that the government needs strong leaders who are willing to make difficult (and often unpopular) decisions, rather than weak individuals who pass today’s problems on to tomorrow.”

Michael Riecken, a senior Near Eastern studies major, is president of the College Republicans at Johns Hopkins.

Photo: Mike Ciesielski