Of course elected officials must represent the will of the people who put them in office. This is not just good for their political survival; it is also good for democracy. It is through the cut-and-thrust of debate on differing approaches to problem-solving that progress is made.
But the year just ended saw an alarming rejection of a fundamental truth of politics, that it is the art of the deal, as some have put it, that it is the arena of compromise. Yet, the blame-game that is being fobbed off on Americans has had, at its basis, rejection of the give-and-take that leads to compromise.
The so-called “tea party” wing of the Republican Party, in particular, has been waging a scorched-earth campaign even against fellow Grand Old Party members. They have been trying to ram their beliefs down the throat of their colleagues through blackmail: Either vote the way we demand or we will field candidates who will put your re-election in serious jeopardy.
This tactic succeeded to a great extent in 2013, with just a few members in the GOP House majority dictating the course of events in a classic example of the tail wagging the dog.
But the year drew to a close on a different note, with the GOP congressional leadership finally rediscovering their backbone and putting the upstarts in their place.
That assertion of leadership produced the miracle of 2013: the bipartisan passage of a budget that will take the country through at least a couple of years, forestalling another imminent government shutdown.
Also we live in a democracy, which means that we have elections and the winners have a mandate to lead the country in the direction set out in their campaigns. Although President Barack Obama twice won the presidency convincingly, there are still those who are determined to try to frustrate his efforts to promote his vision for America.
The time has come for such obstructionism to end and for 2014 to be a year in which sanity can be restored to governance. It is time for the sore losers to grow up and stop taking their marbles and going home because they don’t like the way the game is played.