As most parents will tell you, every child goes through a stage where they seem to suffer from oppositional personality disorder, fervently opposing even the slightest difference of opinion as if the future of the world depended on it.
Whether it’s the “terrible twos” or teens (or both, Lord help you) it’s part of a necessary step toward independence and establishing personal perspective on the road to maturity.
However, opposition itself isn’t a sign of maturity.
Opposition for the sake of opposition only limits our opportunities, our perspectives and the kind of understanding that helps us grow as individuals.
True maturity happens with the recognition of this fundamental truth.
Over the last two years, I’ve heard what was at first a growing — and now continuous — rhetoric from Democratic and Republican leaders about the need to either “support” or “reject” everything the current administration proposes. This includes our own Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, who once told Politico that he would automatically “filibuster any and all Supreme Court Justice nominees Trump puts forward.”
It was only a year prior to that statement that Republican leadership in our nation’s capitol did something similar by refusing to consider then-President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, for the very same appointment.
And the beat goes on.
While I agree that any nominee seeking congressional approval should be scrutinized for their qualifications, to enter into that process with a preconceived conclusion and public promise to automatically deny approval merely continues the kind of partisan politics that have turned the wheels of government into the rusted grind of rickety gears that Americans have lost faith in.
Perhaps more importantly, this kind of “obstructionist” mentality also runs the risk of delegitimizing future challenges within our system of checks and balances when they could matter most.
This isn’t the time to overreach or grandstand simply for the sake of being in opposition or playing it safe within party politics.
Americans are divided because their representatives in Congress have allowed themselves to become divided, simply on the merits of which side of the aisle they happen to sit on.
One of the most basic techniques of winning a war is to divide and conquer. Without question, we are already a nation divided. Our representatives in Congress must put aside their need to conquer each other and remember that the true casualties of this kind of political war are those who they are supposed to be representing.
Do I agree with or even support all of the decisions, executive orders and nominees the current administration has put into play since taking office?
Truth be told, I haven’t found myself in support of most decisions made so far. But for every Neil Gorsuch that members of Congress fervently oppose purely for the sake of opposition, a Betsy DeVos is confirmed to a post without any real qualifications thanks to divisiveness and the mindset of settling old scores.
A little more than 200 years ago, our nation opposed tyranny in order to pursue the dream of being free. It was part of a necessary step toward independence. Our forefathers were mature enough to recognize that opposition itself wasn’t enough to secure our nation, but that it would take perspective and understanding to help us grow as individuals and a people united.
As we continue through the early part of our nation’s own “terrible twos,” we need to remember that fundamental truth.
Because unlike that stage we must deal with as parents, in the case of our nation we really do need to act as if the future of the world depended on it…