My essay for the CSPC Fellowship has changed dramatically since the Fall Conference! Upon coming into the Conference I was set on writing an essay regarding the FAA and gridlock within Congress but as I began to conduct my research, my topic began to change. While my essay still addresses gridlock within Congress, it has shifted to studying partisanship and two particular Congressmen that have caused this gridlock, Newt Gingrich and Nancy Pelosi. For Gingrich I examined the 1994 Republican Revolution and how Gingrich worked to push Democrats out of office using partisan tactics. I then observed his partisanship while Speaker of the House that lead to the government shutdown in 1995. It was easy to find information regarding other Republicans who had fueled partisanship within Congress apart from Gingrich but I decided to specifically examine Gingrich because of his leadership in the Republican Revolution. However the biggest challenge of my essay was finding Democrats within Congress who were equally guilty of partisanship. Upon speaking with advisers, I was told my task would be difficult but I believed it to be a necessary one. Partisanship to me implies that both parties within Congress are unwilling to work together and unwilling to compromise and excuse the cliche, but it takes two to tango. I found Nancy Pelosi and upon deeper research found that she has fueled partisanship within Congress. I was astounded how Pelosi used such similar tactics that Gingrich used in fueling partisanship within Congress. She too became the Speaker of the House in the 2006 Democrat take over. This research would not have been possible without the books Party Wars: Polarization and the Politics of national Policy Making by Barbara Sinclair and She’s the Boss: The Disturbing Truth About Nancy Pelosi by Rochelle Schweizer. These two books were invaluable and provided much of the information for my essay. Sinclair’s book looked at Newt Gingrich’s take over of Congress and Schweizer’s book as the title suggests looked at Nancy Pelosi and her take over of Congress.
This essay has made me truly aware of partisanship in Congress and how it affects gridlock. In the past I have to admit that I was someone who refused to rationalize with the opposing political party and come to a mutual understanding. I thought my political views and the views of my party were correct and that was it. This essay however has made me realize that partisanship and lack of compromise will never result in effective policy or what is right for our country, just circular reasoning and frustration. I have also really enjoyed getting to know my colleagues in this Fellowship and everyone’s help during the Fall Conference to better understand my essay for myself.
I look forward to seeing all of you in a few days!