2013 has just begun and it is already clear that the government is going to be a complete clusterfrick for at least the next four years. Though that really should come as no surprise, as it has been pretty much a complete clusterfrick the previous four years and none of the players have changed. So let’s see, we have:
- The “fiscal cliff”, a mechanism created by Congress to basically hold a gun to their own head because they feared there would never be any sense of urgency to solve the long-term problem of the growing national debt, so they thought ‘hey, let’s make it a short-term problem, then we will solve it for sure!’. At first, this was supposed to force a so-called “Super Congress” to create a solution. Then when that failed, many just assumed that the actual Congress would come up with some sort of solution, because surely they wouldn’t actually let the gun go off, would they? Really we should have all known better. If the government was effective, why would they need a Russian roulette mechanism in the first place? Also, it probably doesn’t help that the gun is not actually pointed at lawmakers, but at us instead. (I will say that I am not a fan at all of “eleventh hour” deals, so I am leaning toward hoping the GOP-led House DOES reject the latest attempt and just let the new Congress pick this issue up on the 4th. Seems like this is too important to be done in the middle of the night on the last day of a session by a lame duck Congress. It’s like waiting until the night before it is due to write your big term paper. No matter what, it’s just not going to be that good.)
- Congress may not even solve this issue before the next issue, the ‘debt ceiling’ comes back around again in February. Back in the day, the most you ever got out of a ‘debt ceiling’ debate was perhaps a couple of speeches grumbling about it and then Congress would just raise the ceiling because that’s pretty much what you have to do because the country owes the money. After all, the Constitutional amendment that states that the validity of the United States public debt shall not be questioned does not have much meaning if the country is willing to ‘dine and dash’ without paying its bills. But that was before Republicans decided that using the ‘debt ceiling’ as a negotiating tool was super awesome! Really this is one of the worst government developments in the last decade, as now whether or not the U.S. will pay its bills is constantly in question (as the GOP have found no incentive to raise the debt ceiling more than by a little bit at a time so the issue can come up time and again).
- Then you have Congress failing to pass signing a non-binding United Nations resolution regarding disability. The treaty is simply a recommendation that all countries should provide equal rights to the disabled. The basis of the United Nations recommendations? The United States very own Americans with Disabilities Act. So really this is the United Nations saying ‘hey U.S., we think your disability law is really nifty and think we should share it with the world’. And we are basically saying back ‘oh yeah, well how ’bout you go f yourselves!’. All because you have some GOP lawmakers that either fear backlash from those who believe in U.N. conspiracy theories or do not want to be seen cooperating with the President at all, not even on an issue that should not be controversial at all. It is this bill more than any other that has convinced me that this is as bad as it has ever been in regards to government function. I am convinced that even during the 1990’s, this bill would have passed nearly unanimously. But not today. For goodness sake, you had Bob Dole basically coming off his death-bed to go to Washington to beg for this bill’s passage to no avail.
Anyway, government is broken and I don’t see any fixing it in the short-term. Some say that the 2014 mid-term elections could offer a solution, but that ignores one of the biggest contributing factors to our current situation, gerrymandered districts. You see, gerrymandered districts have limited the diversity of viewpoints within each given district. As a result, a lot of current lawmakers do not fear opposition from those on the opposite side of the political spectrum, but rather from those on their own side. This has led lawmakers to take positions further on the extreme and to fear taking any position that might seem like compromise, otherwise they might be outflanked by an opponent that will declare their own viewpoints as more pure.
So I think we are stuck with this dysfunctional government for at least the next 4 years, and probably more. I’ll close with a recent Matt Damon quote:
“It’s easier now more than ever in my life to feel the fix is in, the game is rigged and no matter how hard you work to change things, it just doesn’t matter….”
“We’re at a point where politicians don’t really get any benefit from engaging with long-term issues. Instead, it’s all about the next election cycle. Those guys in the House don’t do anything now but run for office. So unless they can find some little thing that zips them up a couple of points in the polls, they’re not interested.”
I would like to disagree, but I simply can’t say that he’s wrong.