Last week, when the big news was the health care repeal bill in the House, Democrats accused Republicans of only wanting to do something symbolic. Since the repeal bill would probably pass in the House but would fail in the Senate or fail to gain the president's signature, Democrats argued, Republicans were just trying to send a message, not accomplish anything substantial. This of course was a superfluous argument – since Republicans see Obamacare as the biggest increase in government size and power in American history. But oh what changes in politics in a week.
Yesterday, Senator Mark Udall of Colorado proposed his own symbolic measure--mixed seating at the state of the union:
Democratic leaders in the House and Senate are embracing the idea of seating lawmakers without regard to party for this month’s State of the Union address, officials said on Thursday. The idea, proposed by Senator Mark Udall of Colorado, would end more than 200 years of tradition in which lawmakers are almost exclusively seated with members of their own party to listen to the president’s annual address.
Udall’s whole proposition just seems plain silly. It ignores the fact that there are real differences between the two parties – and it ignores, as the New York Times noted above, more than two hundred years of precedent.
The Republicans stand for something; the Democrats stand for something else. We live not in a one party system, but in a vibrant democracy where ideas are shared and debated.
Blurring these lines seems like a desperate opportunity to downplay the fact that Republicans won big in November’s election, and that Republicans are likely to take over the Senate in the 2012 election.