In listening to the joint press conference today between Britain's new Prime Minister from the Conservative Party, David Cameron and the Deputy Prime Minister from the Liberal Party, Nick Clegg, I was struck by one crazy idea. What if Barack Obama had chosen John McCain as his Vice President?
I mean here they were, two men who were until very recently hurling vicious insults at each other's parties and platforms, now coming together to work in a state of "cooperation" and "compromise." As much as the reporters tried to bait them by bringing up barbs from the campaign trail, they both rose above it and praised each other in a real show of what I call political courage. They looked forward to sharing ideas, discussing both sides of contentious issues, and finding solutions together.
So again, what if Obama had named John McCain VP? Of course, that would require a change in procedure or the polite "stepping aside" of the Democratic VP, but I'm thinking perfect world, here. He would have been able to sidestep a great deal of the gamesmanship that's been going on in Congress for the past year. He would have had a member of the other team on his side, in his house, bringing in allies and helping to form policy that could actually be pushed through.
Just as in Great Britain, there are of course several issues which present a clear divide between the two men: energy, taxation, health care. But having a government that isn't set up within a "winner take all" architecture might actually loosen up the ranks between the two sides and allow some light to seep through the cracks - so that people could actually vote their own ideology and conscience instead of blindly backing party lines.
Within this past year, our Congress has found a way to practically grind to a halt. We're paying salaries to people whose sole agenda is to see that the "opponent's" measures do not get passed. Since when did our legislative tasks become a zero-sum gain?
It's time we find a way to move past childish invocations of political processes such as filibustering, and get our legislators to do the real work of debate and compromise they have been charged with doing. In the spirit of Great Britain, perhaps we can move beyond seeing each other as rival teams and start seeing each other as one team with a common goal: to protect American lifestyle and ideals, improve the standard of living and security of all citizens, and make our nation stronger and more respected in the world at large.
I, for one, would be willing to throw away my "Democrat" team jersey and see how our new coalition would do.