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Opinion: The professional wrestling show in our nation's Capitol needs to stop
U.S. Capitol
The U.S. Capitol is seen at the end of the day Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, in Washington. - photo by Associated Press

California Democrat Rep. Jackie Speier suggests President Donald Trump is to blame for the crash of a Ukranian airliner that may have been hit by an Iranian missile.

California Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy tweets earlier this month that “Democrats refuse to put American first. They have nothing on their agenda except impeaching our president.”

Washington Democrat Rep. Pramila Jayapal says the president “recklessly assassinated” Qassem Soleimanii.

Georgia Republican Rep. Doug Collins says Democrats are “in love with terrorists” and grieving the death of Soleimani.

And so it goes in Washington, where partisan divisions within the legislative branch of the federal government have become so rancorous that virtually every significant issue on the agenda is debated not on issues of merit, principal or logic, but rather political party allegiance.

Democrats attack Republicans. Republicans attack Democrats. On it goes in a constant escalation of allegations and accusations based on party affiliation. And, with an election year on the horizon, it’s all likely to get worse before it gets better.

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The American public is being fed a steady diet of gamesmanship and hypocrisy by both sides, and it’s not one we can live on.

We do not believe that Democrats in America are in love with terrorists. There are thousands in Collins’ own conservative North Georgia district who are every bit as patriotic as their flag-waving Republican neighbors, many of them veterans of the nation’s military who fought to defend us from terrorism. Our congressman did them a disservice with a poorly chosen generalization expressed in support of the president’s actions, and to his credit apologized on Friday for what he said.

Neither do we believe the president was guilty of “recklessly” assassinating anyone. Whether the death of Soleimani was an appropriate action from a military perspective may be a topic for debate, but there’s no doubting the man was a sworn enemy of our country who personally had been responsible for the deaths of American soldiers and civilians, and who would have continued to attack us if given the opportunity to do so.

And if a missile took down that airplane, whoever made the decision to fire the missile is responsible.

The fallout from the president’s decision has been maddeningly predictable, as though one of those infamous “lines in the sand” had been drawn in Washington with Democrats on one side and Republicans on the other.

The crescendo of voices singing the politics-of-hate chorus has become so deafeningly loud that it overwhelms any other sound coming out of Washington.

The national news outlets and social media certainly add to the cacophony.  With liberal news media presenting one side of any story and conservative outlets another, it is increasingly difficult to ascertain the truth of anything. Fiction becomes fact. Fact becomes irrelevant. Black is white and white it black and on and on it goes.

It’s CNN vs. Fox; Media Matters vs. Breitbart; New York Times vs. The National Review.

Lost in the never-ending pointing of partisan fingers is the reality that the nation has huge problems in need of intelligent solutions, few of which are forthcoming from a hopelessly divided legislative branch of government in which one chamber of the Congress is opposed to everything the president says and does, while the other is filled with supporters so in lockstep as to never question any decision made in the White House.

We have reached the point where it is not overly dramatic to wonder if our federal government can survive the current political environment.

There once was a term often applied to those elected to represent us in government: “statesman.” Webster defined it as someone showing great wisdom and ability in directing government and handling public affairs. Sadly, it applies to a type of politician rarely found in the national Capitol these days.

So what can we do about it? Demand better. Set the bar higher. Let all of those who hope to represent us in Washington know we are fed up with the personal attacks, the character assassination, the obsession with political party over political principle.

Demand attention to issues on the campaign trail, and not a never-ending litany of “this party is evil for this reason” and “that party is evil for that reason.”

There certainly are issues aplenty out there worthy of discussion — a staggering federal deficit that threatens economic gains made in recent years; true immigration reform that never seems to happen no matter how often it is discussed; a health system that leaves many unable to get the care they need; a national mental health crisis; collapsing infrastructures; failing cities. Real problems that demand solutions, not partisan pigeonholing.

Whoever holds the office of president does so for a limited amount of time, but those who hold seats in the legislative branch of our federal government often do so for decades, and it is there that many of our national problems have to be solved. Right now, it isn’t happening.

We have to get beyond an impeachment process that is going nowhere, get past the politics of personal enmity, get beyond Twitter feuds and playground name calling, and get back to the concept of serving the people by working together in building a government that works. Because right now what we have in Congress is the political equivalent of professional wrestling.

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