How Is One Able to Get Absolutely Nothing Done?
Tuesday evening our president will deliver his annual State of the Union address to the nation when he will report as to how healthy our nation is and what his policy vision for the remainder of his term is. Immediately after the president’s presentation the opposition party, and its hangers on, will deliver their counter speech. The Republican Party’s positions will be presented in English and Spanish for the first time by the young and up and coming, “great Latino hope” of the GOP, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. “Senator Rubican” will set forth a critique of the president’s perception and explain why congress must follow the opposition line on various issues instead. His bilingual presentation is part of the Republican strategy to “reach out to Latinos.” Immediately after Senator Rubican’s comments will be a presentation by his keepers and overseers, representatives of the Tea Party. (I guess they just want to make sure that the Florida Hispanic senator toes the party line.)
It’s nice to allow the opposition to give a differing viewpoint of the president’s perception at the same time it is also a reflection of a major weakness in our public policy system and why our politicians never seem to be able to get “absolutely nothing accomplished.” You cannot discern this weakness by just looking at the presentations of the opposition rather it’s revealed in the subtext of their messages. Paul Krugman calls it “a reflection of the ignorance caucus,” I call it an attempt at not accomplishing anything. I refuse to give the opposition credit for being ignorant, this connotes a lack of information or education, rather I feel that extremist Republicans, who call the shots for the GOP, just don’t want to allow President Obama to accomplish anything that will allow him to create a positive legacy for his administration. One may even suspect the extremists of instituting a sophisticated racial attack on the president.
One reason we have not been able to pass a comprehensive national budget, a just and humane immigration policy, gun control, decent health care plan and continue to wage war incessantly around the globe is because of the inability to get the opposition party to meet in the middle of the road and work out their differences.
What you will hear from Senator Rubican and his overseers are reasons why we will not be able to pass legislation on the issues I just mentioned. The GOP management team has placed specific issues on the table that will make the development of good policy almost impossible. The strategy is to have their say, give everyone the appearance that they are making an effort to reach compromise with the president’s position and then blame the president for not being reasonable and accommodating. This strategy is what the Republicans are following in the debate over immigration reform by insisting that before they consider pathways to citizenship or other types of relief for our undocumented immigrants we insure border security efforts. I thought border security had occurred already! We’ve built an ugly fence, not quite as elegant as the Iron Curtain was at the height of the Cold War, but it is effective. The president’s migra has set all-time records on deportations, over 4 million during his terms in office, increased spending on border security, hired more border agents and so forth. And, the GOP wants more on border security before they go any further in discussions! ¡Por favor!
The second facet of the GOP’s strategy is to fight a delaying game by simply putting off considering the substance of legislation for a later day in hopes of taking away the president’s ability to marshal public support. This is the current tactic Republicans are using in postponing consideration of a comprehensive budget. Delaying discussions on the debt limit until May by the House leadership was designed to buy time and nothing else. The president’s recent reelection, the lose of House seats by Republicans, and the realization that GOP extremists are out of touch with the American public have caused the Republicans to retreat rather than openly fight with the president over the debt. The only budget strategy that Republicans can put forth is the same “cut taxes and government spending” mantra that pushed the country into recession during the last Republican administration. The GOP’s inability to put forth a solid, rational counter to the president’s budgetary position means that he would win on this issue something that would just set the Republicans further back politically.
You don’t need to get me started on gun control because I have already said my piece here but if you just look at the way in which Republicans are “nit picking” the issue to pieces (sorry that’s the Texan part of me coming through) you will see what I mean. In some states legislation pushed by the GOP include allowing students and/or teachers to carry guns on campus and commissioning armed guards for schools. At the national level they have the president talked into arguing about smaller magazines for semi-automatic weapons. ¡Valgame!
They have the president arguing about the difference between a 10, 15 or 20 round magazine! How about simply controlling access to weapons to individuals who need them and know how to use them and don’t intend to perpetrate mass killings or armed insurrections?
Something has to change if we, as a nation, move forward positively and constructively in many social policy areas and one of the first things is changing the do-nothing, prohibitionist behavior and actions of Republican Party activists and their minions such as Senator Rubican.
[Photo by The White House]