Written by Erren Harter
My mother convinced me to try Debate in high school. It was a great experience.
Each debate starts with a question. My first one was something like: Resolved: the Federal Government of the United States should provide significantly more support for public education.
After stating the question the affirmative speaker defines “Terms.”
In the 1962 question I defined: Federal Government, United States, public education and the Federal Reduced Lunch Program. The last one because it was a part of my “Plan” to solve the problem.
Let’s fast forward to today.
Maybe the debate question might be: Resolved: the Republican and Democratic Parties shall be required to disclose the source of all their funding.
Here’s my point.
How could you define what is a Republican or Democrat?
In both Kansas and the USA we have gridlock in our legislative process because neither party stands for any one thing which can be explained.
How many factions are there in the Republican Party? The Democrats in Kansas are not so split, but on the federal level they are certainly anything but united. Will Rogers’ old thought that he didn’t belong to an organized political party because he was a Democrat is very apt today.
Another word worth defining is Polarization. It means “a sharp division into opposing factions often on the extreme.”
This, my friends is public enemy number one in both Kansas and Washington. Elected officials who are so committed to their ideals they are unwilling to even consider compromises that might well be best for their constituents.
In Kansas we’ve been constrained by the conservative Brownback led majority that is hopefully about to meet its’ match.
In Washington the polarization is of a unique nature. Donald Trump has his supporters and he continues to play to them and keep them happy despite a lack of real progress in areas that require more than his group’s support to accomplish.
If President Trump wants long term success he will need to find a way to get some bi-partisan support. So far he’s doubled down at every opportunity to keep the polarization alive. That’s unfortunate.
Defining the terms in my day as a high school debater was easy. Today it might not be possible.
I’m Steve Sauder