Thursday, September 26, 2013

The New Normal

I’m off to the Midwest tomorrow for a few days.  That means I won’t be around DC for the customary annual budgetary brinksmanship battles.

This is truly one of those times when politicians resemble the Keystone Kops.  Everyone knows that the fun and games will end with the passage of a budget.  Everyone knows that next year’s  budget is going to be an embarrassment – a continuation of this year’s “sequestration” budget, which was  originally intended to be nothing more than a poison pill, but somehow found its way to becoming the law of the land.   Everyone knows that more and more federal employees will be subjected to repeated furloughs and more and more agencies will have trouble replacing the employees who leave.   In the meantime, we are all invited to witness just how ridiculous our “statesmen” can act.   As one of my friends said, there is no longer a point to identifying the “outrage of the day” on Capitol Hill.  Now, we need to start identifying the “outrage of the hour.”

Personally, I have trouble taking seriously the GOP’s strategy of threatening to shut down the government and/or destroying our nation’s credit rating if we don’t put off ObamaCare.  The dreaded ObamaCare was enacted by both houses of Congress and signed into law by the President.  It was held Constitutional by the Supreme Court in an opinion written by a highly conservative Chief Justice.  And then, not long ago, we held an election that the Republican Party tried to turn into a referendum on ObamaCare, and the President won it handily.   So unless I’m missing something, the law’s opponents have had one opportunity after another to kill this thing and have failed every time.  These suit-and-tied Ahabs are now left with but one option: to threaten to bring down the economic or political welfare of our nation unless the white whale (ObamaCare) is harpooned.  Friends, when we studied civics as schoolchildren, was that kind of threat considered to be an ethical means for a minority party to use in a republican form of government?  It sure doesn’t seem ethical – or republican – to me.

Here’s what I don’t get:  the folks who are threatening to destroy the village in order to save it call themselves “conservatives.”  But how is their conduct the hallmark of a conservative approach to governance?  It sounds like something you’d expect from ends-justify-the-means radicals.  I thought conservatives are the ones who speak out against judicial “activists” who refuse simply to apply the law.  Here, aren’t we talking about the willingness to use the most desperate of measures in order to stop the government from applying the law?   What can be more inappropriately “activist” than holding our economy hostage unless a law that was passed by Congress, approved by the courts, and favored by a recently elected President doesn’t get overturned? 

Those of you who read my last blogpost know that I have had things on my mind lately other than our budget follies.  Frankly, I haven’t given this budgetary nonsense much thought.   I expect to go to work on Tuesday, after the Republicans decide at the last minute to avoid a government shutdown.  And I assume that in three weeks, the Ahabs will cave on their debt ceiling threats as well.  In the meantime, though, Americans will once again lose what modicum of respect we have mustered for our elected officials.  We all recognize that watching politicians act like spoiled children is not the way the process is supposed to work.  Sadly, though, it has become the new normal.  Here’s hoping for better days … a smarter electorate … and altogether different elected officials in Washington. 

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