Author, former Oklahoma congressman examines the 'idiot' factor in politics
BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Thursday, November 08, 2012
11/08/12 at 4:18 AM
Mickey Edwards thinks there are a lot of idiots - or maybe it's idiocy - in American politics.
The former Oklahoma congressman used the I-word in connection with quite a few current, past and wannabe members of Congress and laid out what he sees as the more nonsensical elements of the nation's political system in a talk Wednesday night at the University of Tulsa.
"I noticed that no matter what the issue ... it was the Republicans on one side and the Democrats on the other side," Edwards said. "It wasn't like a congress of Americans trying to solve problems. It was like the NFL. It was my team versus your team. It was my team versus your team all the time."
Those musings led to Edwards' most recent book, published by the Yale University Press, titled "The Parties Versus the People: How To Turn Republicans and Democrats into Americans."
"I got to thinking about what causes all of this," said Edwards, who has taught at Harvard, Prince- ton and George Washington University and is now with the Aspen Institute. "I began to look more closely at the political system, and it just hit me. Duh!
"Why do we get intransigence, incivility and unwillingness to compromise? Because that's what we ask for. It's what we reward. And why do we not get cooperation and compromise? It's because that's what we punish."
Edwards is a Republican who served 16 years in the U.S. House of Representatives from Oklahoma's 5th District, but he finds fault with both major parties. If anything, he is more critical of Republicans, including recent U.S. Senate nominees Todd Akin ("idiot") and Richard Mourdock ("idiot) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich ("one of the biggest idiots I ever met").
Edwards took the U.S. Supreme Court to task for its ruling that corporations have the same right to contribute to political campaigns as people.
"Corporations are people?" he said. "Give me a break."
Congressional leaders wield too much power - much more power than the president - and seem to be getting stronger all the time, Edwards said.
"The two most important words for a member of Congress to know when dealing with the party leaders - the two most important words - are 'stick it.' "
The answers, Edwards said, are for Americans to listen to people with different views and to reward the kind of behavior by elected officials that produces results rather than bickering.
"What we do is demand they grow up," he said.
Original Print Headline: Author examines 'idiot' factor in politics
Randy Krehbiel 918-581-8365
Former U.S. Rep. Mickey Edwards talks politics in promoting his new book during a speech at the University of Tulsa on Wednesday evening. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World