Put country ahead of party

Published 6:22 pm Friday, June 24, 2022

This country’s wayward politics are on full display in Richmond and Washington, where the two major parties are more concerned about defeating the other side than about adhering to conservative or liberal values, much less helping the citizenry.

Take, for example, the notion of some temporary relief from absurdly high gas prices.

Virginia’s Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin pushed hard for a three-month “gas tax holiday” as part of the state’s biennial budget that takes effect July 1, but Senate Democrats blocked it, calling it a political gimmick.

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A hundred miles north, Democratic President Joe Biden proposed a similar break from federal gas taxes and Senate Republicans immediately ridiculed the idea as, you guessed it, political gimmickry.

Let us get this straight: Suspending gasoline taxes is a good idea if a Republican governor suggests it but a bad idea if a Democratic president suggests it – or, to flip the hypocrisy, a terrible idea if a Republican governor wants it but a splendid idea if a Democratic president wants it. Never mind what would be good for Virginians and Americans as gas prices dance around $5 a gallon.

Such gamesmanship is precisely why we and many others are losing faith in our government and especially the two-party system that controls it. So toxic is the partisanship in Richmond and Washington that winning or retaining power for your political party is more important than serving citizens.

Ideology and principle have long given way to tribalism. The art of compromise is nearly lost.

It gasped perhaps its last breath this week with congressional compromise on a mild, but potentially effective, effort to help combat mass shootings such as the recent one at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. We commend the Senate Republicans who joined with Democrats to pass common-sense reforms such as expanded background checks for people under 21; incentives for states to pass so-called “red flag” laws that allow intervention when someone is deemed to be an imminent threat to commit a violent act; and increased funding for school safety and mental health treatment.

We challenge elected leaders in both parties to come together in a similar fashion and help citizens cope with staggering gas prices.