Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN


August 29, 2013

In Washington, ideology need not reign supreme

As I speak to people about the Congress, one question arises more than any other: Why is Congress gridlocked?

People are perplexed and disappointed with its performance, and are searching hard for an answer.

The roots of Congress’ dysfunction are complex. But the fundamental reason is that real differences in beliefs about government exist among the voters.

Conservatives place a heavy emphasis on liberty, individual freedom, and self-reliance. They have little confidence in government’s ability to play a role in improving society or the economy, and many of them look upon government as destructive, a force that undermines our basic freedoms.

Moreover, a belief has taken hold among conservatives in recent years that compromise and accommodation are betrayals of their cause. This has put great pressure on GOP leaders not to budge in their negotiations with the White House and Senate Democrats.

Meanwhile, on the “progressive” side there is much greater emphasis on using government to narrow economic disparities and help those at the bottom of the income scale. They emphasize equality of opportunity for all and individuals’ responsibility to the community around them. While they do not favor a radical centralization of power in the federal government, as some conservatives charge, they are more willing to accept government action – and the legislative compromises that make it possible.

The gap between these views appears unbridgeable. It is not.

That is because most Americans find themselves somewhere between the extremes, able to see merit in both conservative and progressive ideas. When I was in office, I often found myself thinking that many of my constituents were conservative, moderate, and liberal all at the same time. That hasn’t changed. They may be wary of excessive government, but again and again they turn to government at some level to help solve the problems they complain about, and they want it to work effectively and efficiently. More than anything else, Americans want to see moderation and cooperation from their political leaders.

In the end, Congress usually ends up about where most Americans want it to be. So I’m not surprised how, when dire problems confront them, both conservatives and progressives in Washington find their inner pragmatist.

Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

Text Only
  • Pat Smith: The retiree mental fitness evaluation It’s not every day that a person learns that she might be getting a bunch of money. Of course, I’ll try not to change and become snobbishly and arrogantly pretentious.Here’s the story: As anyone who has ever lived in a very old home knows, the chance

    July 9, 2014

  • Storage wars: Not every locker is a pot of gold Don’t we just love them? Calvin (the thrift store owner), Jarrod and Brandi (the enthusiastic young married couple), Darrell (the storage auction veteran) and Rene and Casey (the German couple who ruled season 5.) Each week they step into our homes a

    July 9, 2014

  • Political Polarization: Part II Editor’s note: This is the second in a three-part series.“Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself.”— John AdamsWhen asked what the Founders created in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin replied: “A Republic, madam; if you

    July 8, 2014

  • Financial hardships mount for military families Days before the July 4th holiday, Holly Petraeus stood on the steps of the imposing Indiana War Memorial, in front of a bank of cameras, and made a plea to military families: Don’t let pride stand in the way of asking for help. It was a striking mess

    July 8, 2014

  • New laws benefiting Hoosier families The beginning of July has taken on new meaning since I first began serving as your state representative. Not only does it signify the start of a new month, it also represents when many new laws take effect in Indiana. As a continuous advocate for chi

    July 8, 2014

  • Thankful for our veterans' sacrifice On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed, giving birth to a new nation. To Great Britain and the rest of the world, the U.S. proclaimed itself the proud home of free people. Since that day, on more than one occasion, this freedom h

    July 8, 2014

  • Evolving Hoosier marriage and equal protection FREMONT, Ind. - The last week of June brought extraordinary images to Indiana. With the stroke of a pen, federal Judge Richard Young stuck down the state’s marriage laws passed by overwhelming bipartisan majorities. Within hours, hundreds of gay coup

    July 3, 2014

  • Polarization: Part I Editor’s note: This is the first in a series.There is no doubt about it: Political polarization is the norm in D.C. and the states. A recent Pew Research Study, “Political Polarization in the American Public,” finds that political and ideological lin

    July 3, 2014

  • The lessons of independence For many Americans, the Fourth of July will pass with little reflection on its historic significance. We’ll spend time with family and enjoy great food without really considering the underlying events that are the reason for our celebration. That’s a

    July 3, 2014

  • Pat Smith: A new appreciation for the Harper home Last week I had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Calvin Davis about the Harper home. As usual, when talking with Davis, I got a new appreciation for a part of Decatur County history.The James S. Harper home on State Road 3 at Sardinia catches the eye

    July 2, 2014

Featured Ads
AP Video
Argentina to Face Germany in World Cup Final Service Held for 200 Whose Bodies Went Unclaimed Kim Kardashian Hits Up Valentino Show in Paris "Hotwives" Spoofs Reality TV Israeli Offensive Escalates in Gaza Attack Dozens Gain Citizenship As Debate Continues Dodgers Found Partly Responsible in Fan Beating Children of Deported Parents Speak Out GOP: Immigration a 'human Rights Issue' Raw: 10-year Sentence for Ex-New Orleans Mayor Raw: Fans Gather for Argentina-Netherlands Match Froome Crashes Out on Bumpy 5th Tour Stage Obama Talks Economy, Slams Republicans Police: Prostitute Accused in Overdose Death Tornadoes Kill Four in Central New York McCaskill: Campus Assault Survey Is Wake Up Call Raw: Obama Shoots Pool in Denver Typhoon Nears Japan's Main Islands Day After: Brazil Reeling in WC Loss Weaver Reprises Ripley Role for 'Alien' Game
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.