BizSceneMickey Edwards, the former eight-term Republican congressman from Oklahoma, likens politics in Washington, D.C., to sports, and it isn’t a flattering analogy. “It’s so dysfunctional that it’s not like a group of Americans sitting together trying to solve our problems; it’s more like the NFL. It’s more like the Saints against the Cowboys,” Edwards told a packed Cajundome Convention Center ballroom Dec. 19 during an IND Lecture Series luncheon (IND Monthly is ABiz’s sister publication). The series is presented by IberiaBank; AT&T joined as supporting sponsor for this lecture.

For more than a half hour Edwards decried the “us versus them” climate in the Beltway, where Republicans and Democrats agree on virtually nothing and virtually nothing gets done on voters’ behalf.

That’s a theme Edwards has been hammering — in newspaper op-eds, as a frequent guest on television and radio news panels, and in his new book, The Parties Vs. the People: How to Turn Republicans and Democrats into Americans.

The remedies Edwards prescribes for closing the partisan divide center around mainstreaming Congress by reducing the likelihood of partisan extremists getting elected: by banishing to the dust bin of bad electoral policy the closed party primaries used in most states, which Edwards argues tend to create candidates who represent the political fringes á la Tea Party candidates Sharon Angle and Christine O’Donnell, who defeated mainstream Republicans more likely to compromise with Democrats; by prohibiting the political party that controls a state legislature from controlling congressional redistricting; and by electing a non-partisan House speaker.

“We all agree that there is a purpose in government to do things that we all need done, that we cannot do ourselves,” Edwards said. “I’m for limited government, but there are things government is required to do, even under our Constitution. And it ain’t gonna happen as long we allow two private, power-seeking clubs to shape our system of government to their own narrow, partisan advantage. That’s why I say let’s turn Republicans and Democrats into Americans — not that they don’t care about America, but we need to have their decisions made not to help them and their team but to help run the country that we all love.”

1. David Andrus and Mark Andrus
2. Barry Berthelot and Rob Eddy
3. Scott Ridley, Kevin Caswell, Aly Sledge, Isabella Sledge and Karen Hardy
4. UL President Joseph Savoie
5. Barry Erwin and Gary McGoffin
6. Mary Guidry, Jennifer Doyle-Bordelon, Jim Doyle, Margaret Trahan and Charlotte Doyle
7. Cherry Fisher May
8. Mickey Edwards
9. Margot Hasha and Philip Gould
10. Mickey Edwards signing books

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