- The Washington Times - Monday, November 24, 2008


Every now and then I find it necessary to, if I may be allowed to use a noun as a verb, Google new terms and concepts that arise in the political nomenclature. I want to be sure of their true meaning and not their implied definition. Two such terms now being bandied about by political commentators and self-selected pundits are “post-racial” and “post-partisan.” Voters might want to start pondering where they stand on these two concepts.

I thought these two adjectives, as simple and clear-cut as they appear to be, most especially called for clarity and certainty in their meaning. If possible, I wanted concrete examples of how they would apply to this new political era already termed by some, depending on their political leanings, as the “Obama era.” Talk about giving someone his props before being actually sworn into office.

I’ll begin with the term “post-partisan,” which, in my humble opinion, is defined as the desire of Americans to see their leaders come together to solve problems without first resorting to finger pointing, name-calling and other childish games. Further, it might also suggest that elected and appointed leaders actually respect each other when they disagree on the issues. But what do I know?

Perhaps the best example of the term post-partisan would be the postelection meeting between President-elect Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain. The two rivals set down recently to figure out how they could work together, and the media drank it like strawberry-flavored Kool-Aid on a hot summer’s day. But what did they talk about? What agreements did they make, and will Mr. McCain join an Obama administration?

We will never know, but oh how I wish I could have been a fly on the wall when Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain went home that evening and shared the details of that meeting with Michelle and Cindy. Now that would have been pillow talk worth hiding under the bed for.

Remember how Mr. McCain ended his concession speech? He said, “Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.”

Now that one of the most unpredictable elections in American history is behind us, just what did he mean? And did he discuss this with the newly elected president?

I am sure most voters believe all this talk about post-partisanship is just the usual kumbaya nonsense parroted every four years by jaded, spineless, clueless and insincere politicians acting like they are in the loop when they are simply part of the crowd. But now I wonder. Now I dare to hope.

Are the decades of partisan gridlock finally over? Could this be the end of needless rancor on Capitol Hill? Is it possible our two political parties will no longer stoop to conquer but instead rise as one to preserve and propel forward our great and endangered nation?

I believe campaigns have a way of changing people, especially long ones like this presidential race. Sometimes, the change is for the better. One’s outlook on life can be expanded and enhanced. The ability to communicate one’s values can be sharpened into eloquence. And sometimes, though rarely, a political campaign can allow one to clear the deck of discounted ideological stances and begin anew.

I believe this campaign will change Mr. McCain in much the same way his battle in 2000 sent him back to the Senate invigorated and even more secure in his role as the Republican maverick willing to reach across the aisle. He took the road hardly traveled and made it a bridge to becoming a viable candidate this electoral season. All eyes will be on the senator who just announced the formation of a committee to explore options to seek re-election to his current office in just two years.

For now, Mr. McCain has the potential of becoming Mr. Obama’s leading man crafting a new era of reform including spending reform (eliminating corporate welfare and congressional earmarks), and bold action on climate change, immigration and closing Guantanamo Bay.

Mr. Obama would be wise to seek Mr. McCain’s counsel on these issues and to ask for his help in building a bipartisan coalitions on Capitol Hill to get things done. Just imagine folks, if you take away the rancor of the presidential campaign, these two great citizens share more than tired feet from running for the highest office on the planet. They also share a common philosophy of cutting through the clutter, building broad coalitions, and taking on tough issues worthy of our democracy.

Having said that, I hold declarations from all other politicians, Democrat and Republican alike, claiming to be bona fide members of the newly formed post-partisan club to be “subject to proof.” Much like Mr. Obama’s decision to pardon Sen. Joe Lieberman for the political mortal sin of supporting the opposition’s candidate for president, the right to the post-partisan title needs to be earned by deeds not feel-good rhetoric.

For now, we will have to hold every political leader - and some of us who call ourselves political pundits - to truly speaking with one voice, one sound and one note on bringing the country together during a difficult hour.

We can do it. As President-elect Obama said throughout the campaign season, “Yes we can!”

Donna Brazile is a nationally syndicated columnist and a political commentator on CNN, ABC and National Public Radio and the former campaign manager for Al Gore.

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