I’m getting more and more angry at politicians grandstanding to and for their electorate, and seriously damaging the USA and its institutions in the process. This applies to both sides of the political aisle, and to everyone from the President, to Senators and Congressional representatives, to State and local governments, to (it seems) temporary acting unpaid deputy second assistant dog-catchers. The rot seems to have spread throughout our body politic.
If adults are supposed to be mature people, I venture to suggest that almost every politician we’ve got, Republican or Democrat, is not mature, and should be sent back to political and social kindergarten until they’ve learned how to behave. We expect kids to throw temper tantrums if their wishes and desires are thwarted. Witness children in the supermarket.
“Mommy, I want that chocolate bar!”
“No, you can’t have it. You’ll spoil your supper.”
Witness kids in a car.
“Mommy, Johnny touched me!”
“Johnny, stop that.”
“But Jenny touched me first!”
“I don’t care who touched who first – both of you, stop that!”
(Both kids, simultaneously) “WAAAAAHHH!”
Isn’t that precisely what we’re seeing from our politicians in Washington D.C. right now? “Impeach (name of politician)!” “No, charge (name of politician) with (the crime of the accuser’s choice)!” “Investigate this bureaucrat!” “No, investigate the people who hired/tolerated/fired him!” Some politicians want this, or that, or the other thing, and threaten to hold other legislation or government business to ransom unless and until they get it. Others demand that the heads of their political opponents must roll, ignoring the fact that their own politicians are just as guilty, just as venal, just as corrupt, as those on the other side. It looks like nothing more than a pack of kids demanding to play with the American people’s ball on their turf according to their rules, and denouncing as “Unfair!” anyone else’s desire to do the same thing.
I don’t know what the answer is. I suppose this may be the ultimate proof of Joseph de Maistre‘s maxim that “Every nation gets the government it deserves.” (All I can say is, we must have done something awful bad to deserve the government we’ve got now!) I also suspect this proves H. L. Mencken was right when he said, “Each party steals so many articles of faith from the other, and the candidates spend so much time making each other’s speeches, that by the time election day is past there is nothing much to do save turn the sitting rascals out and let a new gang in.” We’ve certainly got a prime gang of rascals in Washington right now – and that applies on both sides of the aisle. If the position of the Democratic and Republican parties were reversed tomorrow, in terms of who controls what elected body, I suspect we wouldn’t see much practical difference at all.
One of the real tragedies of this situation is that good men and women increasingly avoid elected service to the people. I can’t blame them. When they know that announcing their candidacy will instantly result in their being put under the partisan political microscope; their every thought, word and deed since birth will be analyzed to a fare-thee-well in the hunt for evidence about their views and positions; and their family life, personal privacy, and other assets will evaporate under the glare of the political spotlight – it’s no wonder so many good, upright people won’t even consider serving their country as legislators. What’s more, the few good ones who are elected often become disillusioned or burned out, and quit rather than carry on trying to keep their heads above the fetid waters of the swamp. Those who don’t quit, often become part of the problem as they abandon their principles and efforts to find a solution to it.
I begin to think that a constitutional convention might be the only way forward in terms of getting anything done in this country. Trouble is, that’s a two-edged sword. There are principles like a balanced budget, term limits, and restrictions on the powers of government and their scope (in particular the shameless corrupting of the ‘Commerce Clause‘ that both major parties have aided and abetted for decades) that I’d support in a heartbeat. Indeed, those principles appear to enjoy widespread support in this country from people of many political persuasions. However, activists on both sides would doubtless try to hijack the convention for their own purposes, to support or reject their favorite cause du jour. That would turn the convention into a circus to rival Congress or the Senate. Why . . . it might even give rise to the suspicion that our elected representatives, whoever and wherever they might be, are actually behaving in the same fractured, schizophrenic, irrational fashion as the people who elected them! If that’s the case, a constitutional convention would be useless. It would only produce more of the same old, same old . . .
Somehow I envision Washington, Jefferson, Jackson and several other early Presidents looking down from on high at our present mess, shaking their heads, and calling loudly for more beer (or whatever their heavenly tipple might be). Perhaps strong drink is the only response left to us.