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Jim Lee: Politics of the immature

Richard Mourdock's defeat of longtime Sen. Richard Lugar in the Republican primary in Indiana last week has been used by people on the left to highlight just how far right the GOP has moved, but the most concerning thing to me about Mourdock is his skewed view of bipartisanship.

Lugar was long known as a strong conservative during his 36-year career, but even he has become too moderate, his 77 percent ranking from the American Conservative Union not good enough, for a party that continues to harden its stand against any form of compromise in governing.

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Among Lugar's major shortcomings, at least according to the current version of the Republican Party, was his ability to put politics aside and work with Democrats to forge agreement on issues important to our country.

Mourdock, meanwhile, made headlines last week when he told Chuck Todd on MSNBC, "I certainly think bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view."

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Personally, I don't care what your political party is, but if your starting point is "my way or the highway," there's something wrong. Beyond that, your opinion of yourself and your importance in the world is likely highly inflated.

Mourdock's statement sounds more like something that would come from a parent dictating authoritarian control over a child, but then again, a lot of the Republican dogma these days seems to share that common thread. The duplicity of the GOP when it comes to keeping government out of our lives unless it has to do with regulating how we live, however, is an entirely different topic that is best left for another day.

We can get beyond our personal differences on social issues if we are willing to talk to each other, listen to each other and respect each other's positions. But uttering the word compromise is like the kiss of death in politics today.

Republicans in Maryland have spent the past week hammering Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley and the Democrat-controlled legislature for calling a special session to raise taxes. Republicans say the so-called "doomsday budget" that fell in place by default when the legislature couldn't agree on changes at the end of the regular session wasn't that bad at all. Plus, they complain that O'Malley and the Democrats haven't even bothered to consider some of the Republican proposals that were put forward which could have kept spending down and wouldn't have resulted in the need for a tax increase.

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The Republicans are absolutely correct in their assertions that the Democrats aren't giving them an equal spot at the table, but unlike the congressional Republicans, those in the state legislature would likely welcome the opportunity to work with Democrats to get some of their ideas incorporated into the overall vision for growing the state.

That's bipartisanship, and it is how government works best. No one gets what they want all the time, and everyone bends a little bit in order to preserve the greater good.

Mourdock, like the Democratic machine in Maryland, represents everything that is wrong with politics. Idealistic demagogues who believe the world should revolve around their personal interpretation of how things should be serve only to rip us apart. Their behavior is exactly opposite everything that has helped make our country what it is today. Perhaps the growth in this attitude is to be expected. In recent years we have become an increasingly narcissistic society. We look back at what we call the Greatest Generation and marvel at how they put aside their own personal wants and needs in order to serve the greater good of the country. Yet while we express admiration of what they did, we do not model their behavior in anything we do.

We don't want to just grab the golden ring; we want to keep circling around and grabbing as many golden rings as possible, no matter what our own personal greed may take away from others.

When you think about it, it is a rather sad commentary that illustrates how our maturity level in recent years has fallen into a steep decline.

The statements and actions of people like Mourdock and congressional Republicans, like the Democrats in Annapolis, represent a direction that we should be moving away from, not one that we want to embrace.

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