Can’t We All Just Get Along? Filmmaker Turns Lens on Partisanship in Washington

Oct 21, 2011 6:20pm

ABC News Sherisse Pham (@sherisse) reports: Bill Malone interviewed former senator Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., for his documentary ‘Patriocracy.’ The veteran politician gave a candid summary of the partisan politics plaguing Washington of late.

“Just holler, ‘Bull sh*t!’ ” said Simpson, craning his head upwards to mimic shouting the expletive to the rooftops. “And let it ring through the land. That may be our credo, we may make it if we can do that, because everybody of any sense or status in life knows what bull sh*t is.”

Partisanship gridlock is the worst it has ever been, according to several characters that appear in Malone’s new film.

“I don’t think we look at government the right way, and a lot of it is the way we look at it,” Malone told ABC’s “Top Line” today. “Instead of looking at the differences we need to look at the similarities.”

“If you look at American history, much of American history, and the reason why American democracy has survived as long as it has is because of a spirit of compromise and collaboration,” he continued.

Yet as evidenced by the Republican presidential race, voters tend to reward extreme, partisan views, fueling politicians with a strong incentive to veer sharply to the left or right. Malone blames, in part, apathetic American voters for the extreme politics.

“There is a problem with getting smart thinking, well-minded people involved in politics,” said Malone. But he argues that “if people really knew what was at stake, and how these decisions in Washington were affecting their everyday lives, they would make the extra effort, and I think the time has come for Americans to really step up.”

Historically, American politics has had its fair share of boiling tempers. This is a country where founding fathers shot at each other in a dual, and people were beaten in the House of Representatives, after all. But Malone says that is an unfair comparison.

“Back in the early days of Congress when people were getting hit with canes or people brought — Congressmen, Senators — brought hunting dogs onto the Senate floor, they didn’t have the 24/7 news cycle that constantly fed viewers and voters what they wanted to hear, and reinforced in many cases their stereotypes, their fears and misinformation,” said Malone.

The filmmaker said several members of Congress told him they were frustrated that they can’t even walk from the House or Senate floor to their office buildings without seeing all the networks commenting on a bill they just voted on.

“So it’s hard for them to get perspective and I think that’s what we all need, we all need a little perspective.”

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