Summertime and Politics is Irrelevant

July 19, 2013

One of the benefits of summertime, besides the obvious warm weather and vacation time, is that politics, especially national politics, falls off the radar screen, as politicians spend less time bickering in Washington and go home to convince their constituents that they are working hard and performing their constitutional duties. This of course is the Big Lie.

But in this summertime season, most members of Congress don’t have much to talk about to the folks back home or to crow about as worthwhile accomplishments. Republicans, in particular, don’t have a lot of partisan ammunition to go after the President and their Democratic foes just seem happy to let Obama carry their load.

With the economy on the mend, the stock market moving upward, jobs expanding and housing on the rebound, Republicans are without a go to issue to get the American public focused, especially when most of them are at the beach.

Sure there has been the IRS scandal, but the more the Congress investigates, the more it finds out that there is no there, there. Then the spying on the press issue has simply faded from view, since most people hate the press anyway. There is always Edward Snowden, drones and Egypt but who really cares. The right wingers in the House of Representatives keeps trying to stop Obamacare, knowing full well that it is futile, since the Senate will not join in. So what we get is just political posturing and pettiness that exists on the far fringes of national interest.

So if you are a political junkie, you will just have to wait until after Labor Day to have your partisan juices pumped up as the Congress restarts its attack on Obama and finds something terribly wrong with the United States.

What makes the whole political process irrelevant now is that members of Congress will be focused on getting reelected in 2014 and the President is a lame duck chief executive. What this means is that in the next year politicians will shift from doing little of anything meaningful to convincing voters to reelect them and send them back to Washington so they can do less.

What a waste of our time!

My advice is to relax, have a cold one, watch the Red Sox, read a good book, talk to your significant other, and enjoy the results of global warming. No need to concern yourself with national politics; nothing is likely to happen, and if any good comes our way as a nation, it won’t be because of Congress or the President.


Stealers Wheel

July 21, 2011

One of my favorite rock songs from the 70s was Stuck in the Middle With You by the Scottish group Stealers Wheel. Although the song is some 40 years old, it is right on in that it captures the political mess we are in in this country and the helplessness and frustration that all Americans feel. Here’s one key verse in the song:

” Tryin to make some sense of it all,

But I can see that it makes no sense at all

Is it cool to go sleep on the floor?

Cause I don’t think that I can take it anymore

Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right

Here I am stuck in the middle with you.”

That’s me and most of America – stuck in the middle of a senseless partisan dust-up with monumental consequences, and who can I look to for guidance out of this mess when there are clowns on the left of me and jokers on the right.  I can’t take it anymore.

 


What’s So Wrong With Compromise?

April 12, 2011

One of the most disturbing aspects of the ongoing budget and debt battles in Congress and throughout the country is the refusal of some legislators and the Tea Partiers to accept the importance of bargaining and compromise as critical to the survival of our nation.

The United States and its governing system was founded on the working principles of trying to bring various groups, regions and allegiances together by finding commmon ground and then using the skills of bargaining and compromise as a way of resolving disputes.

What we have now in Washsington is a rejection of that tradition as political leaders state openly that compromise is a sign of weakness and a complete victory over one’s adversaries is the only true policy path.

This thinking creates an ugly atmosphere as legislators refuse to find a consensus and show little respect for bipartisan cooperation. What occurs instead are shouting matches on the floor of Congress, a reluctance to even talk to those from the other side of the aisle, and a commitment to an ideological position no matter whether that position is proven wrong or may lead to a dead end.

It is interesting in a troublesome way how little the Tea Party and its legislative representatives know about the Constitution, even though they claim that they are the major protectors of this document.

The Constitution above all else was based on pragmatism and realism. The Founding Fathers knew that in order to make a nation out of 13 colonies there had to be give and take and the understanding that taking a hard and fast position would lead nowhere but to gridlock and inaction.

That is why the Constitution takes a balanced view on the relationship between the federal government and the states; that is why the Constitution writers created the concept of checks and balances among the three branches of government; and that is why the Constitution developed a complex and undemocratic electoral system that satisfied the propertied elites by keeping slaves, women, native Americans and even men who had no land out of the voting process.

Compromise was at the heart of the Constitution and those in Congress who see compromise as a dirty word ought to read up on how this nation was founded and how it prospered as a result of a simple commitment to compromise.