Sunday, February 19, 2017

Town Hall questions

[Edit 2/23. A fourth question has been added below about new set of immigration executive orders.]

This blog entry sets forth comments and questions regarding the tele-town hall of Rep. Gary Palmer (AL06) held on February 16th. An audio of the town hall can be heard at

I think most Americans are similarly situated and have similar interests relative to many of the important issues that were asked about in the town hall, including concerning Obamacare (and its repeal and replacement), Medicare, Social Security, education, jobs, infrastructure, regulations, energy, the environment, and the debt. On these issues, there is little basis for deep partisan divide (polarization) among average Republicans, average Democrats and Independents.

Some of the issues have trade offs. Most Americans are similarly situated regarding the trade offs, and the trade offs should not be a source of deep partisan divide as prevents a compromise balancing and resolution of the trade offs. While these issues that have trade offs ought not be a source of deep partisan divide, nonetheless deep partisan divide gets manifested on the issues.

For example, there are trade offs between energy and the environment. Most Americans (Republicans, Democrats and independents) are exposed in the same way to that trade off (i.e., all Americans need energy and most Americans want to pass on a decent environment to succeeding generations). There ought not to be deep partisan divide that prevents reaching a compromise resolution of the trade off, but nonetheless a deep partisan divide (polarization) gets manifested.

Some of the issues have differing generational perspectives, such as questions of reducing current Social Security benefits, or the "mandate"  under Obamacare. Again, though, in such cases there should not be a basis for a deep partisan divide.

All in all, it seems that there there has been growing polarization (hyperpartisanship)  for 20 years or more, which polarization is greater than objectively warranted given the similarity of the interests of most Americans.

Many think this hyperpartisanship has resulted in very substantial impairment of Congress doing its job properly for the American people.

A fair characterization of the Obama years was obstructionism by the Republicans.

Now the Democrats are taking up obstructionism against Donald Trump and the Republicans.

After one month of the Trump administration, many think that the country is more divided than it has ever been during the past thirty years.

Questions for Rep. Palmer:
1. To what extent do you agree with the above analysis that most Americans are similarly situated and have similar interests relative to many important issues for the country, and that there is a political polarization that is not warranted in light of how most Americans are similarly situated on the important issues?
2. Do you believe there has been political polarization in recent years that has impaired Congress in doing its job properly for the American people?
3. Do you think the way Donald Trump conducted his campaign, and the way he has conducted his Presidency in the first month, if the same is continued going forward, will deepen the political polarization in the country? Or do you think the way Donald Trump has conducted his Presidency in the first month, if continued, will work towards lessening the hyperpartisanship in the country?
4. [added 2/23] Does the second set of Donald Trump's immigration executive orders unnecessarily exacerbate partisan division that will make the job of Congress harder, and could Congress help the situation by doing its job and passing comprehensive immigration reform (as should have been done during the Obama years)?

Edit 7/19 Abortion issue
I contend that the Republican party establishment uses the abortion issue to keep the electorate polarized and benefit itself. Those whose stated goal is to outlaw abortion in the United States need to explain why it is intolerable for them to life in a society in which others can choose to have an abortion.

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