When the Republicans look back at the era just after their 2012 election defeat, they are going to see they were presented with an early opportunity to make their way back from the political wilderness. The question is: Will they take it?
The early signs are promising.
Since President Obama's reelection, a number of high-profile Republicans have been interviewed on their reaction to the result. And ever so slowly, it seems the penny is beginning to drop.
One by one Republicans are doing something that seemed utterly impossible only a few short weeks ago -- publicly announcing that obstructionist stances are not good for the country or for them politically. Where matters of substance are put before what can be sold during an election year. Matters of true governing.
As a matter of good measure, the first major discourse of what hopefully will be a new political era is to come up with a plan to avoid the fiscal cliff. A matter important to all Americans. Not just one or two select groups that are acutely within one party's favor. If ever there was an issue that demonstrates the reality that we are all in this together, this is one of them. We all have vested interest.
As such, one by one Republicans and Democrats have declared their willingness to put hardline issues on the negotiating table. For the Republicans, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C), and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) have declared Grover Norquist's "Taxpayer Protection Pledge" as unhelpful to the process of building a new America. On the other side of the aisle, some Democrats have seen their way clear to putting some semblance of entitlement reform on the negotiating table.
Whether you agree with one policy or another is a matter for another day. Such watershed movement in the motives of those who represent us, one can only hope, will give way to a dam that nourishes the political landscape for future debates -- not only on the issue of the fiscal cliff, but also for those issues important to select or less influential groups. Surely, if we are to be a country of inclusion, what is important to one is important to us all.
While only time will tell just how much each side is willing to budge to take seriously ideas that emanate from the other side of the aisle, it is worth taking a moment to note the refreshing of the political landscape.
Whether Republicans are able to embrace the idea of tax increases for the wealthy, and preserve for themselves as electable in the eyes of future generations of the middle class, remains to be established.
However, for the first time in a long time, it seem entirely possible that America is ready to enter a new era of less politicking. President Obama may have been declared the winner on election night 2012, but in time, let's hope the real winner is American government.
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