I am a moderate Republican and I want Republican ideas to move forward but it seems that even with Republican controlling the House, Senate and White House they cannot agree on anything and the result is nothing gets done.
The Democrats, on the other hand, have figured out that the Republicans are splintered and they use that division to get what they want. They threaten to shut down the government knowing the media will blame the Republicans. The recent passage of a Continuing Resolution in the Senate tells the story very well.
When Donald Trump was campaigning he said he wanted to build a wall and tighten border security, he wanted to end funding for Planned Parenthood and end Sanctuary cities. But when we get to the legislative process the Democrats sit back and watch the in fighting among Republicans forcing the leadership to turn to Democrats to pass a bill and in the end there is no money for a wall, funding for Planned Parenthood and no penalties for being a Sanctuary city.
So what is the cause of this problem for Republicans? I have to assign the blame to the Freedom Caucus in the House of Representatives. This group of about 30 very conservative Republicans has adopted a strategy of “my way or nothing” and it prevents the Republican leadership moving any bill that could gain a consensus. They don’t’ seem inclined to compromise and the result is they give the power back to the Democrats. In the Senate you have a smaller group on the far right that give Leader McConnell fits and keeps him from passing bills that would benefit Republicans in the long run.
Now the Democrats are not without fault in this mess. They were the ones that complained the past many years that the Republicans were obstructing President Obama from moving anything in the Congress, forcing him to govern by using Executive Orders and Executive Memorandum (they are both the same). Now when Trump does it they run to the cameras to decry this abuse of Executive power.
Somewhere in the past twenty-five years the word compromise became a dirty word. I ascribe part of the blame to CSPAN. Once cameras were installed in the House and the Senate members quit talking to each other and started talking to the cameras. When I worked in the Senate many years ago there were no cameras. Nobody brought charts to the floor because we did not care about seeing a chart. Those charts are for CSPAN viewers. Each side uses them to highlight their points and I would venture to say that 90% of the material on those charts is selected data that has no real relationship with the true facts.
The 24-hour news cycle is another culprit in the breakdown of negotiated compromises. All day long the talking heads on cable bring one “expert” after another on to explain why a bill is bad or good and why their side should hold fast to get what they want. How many really believe that the Ann Coulter or Rachel Maddow are interested in Congress working together to achieve a common goal for the American public? That would ruin their shtick and cost them ratings which costs them money.
If you look at any list of people that are considered the top pundits on both the conservative and liberal side of the political spectrum you will find that 90% of them are on TV and you can find them on Fox News, MSNBC and CNN. They are not appearing on this shows for free, they are being paid to come on and spew their particular version of political angst.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the President in this mess. I wish someone could sit Donald Trump down and tell him “Mr. President, you won.” He needs to quit tweeting about everything he sees on TV. He needs to quit attacking the media in every sound bite. He needs to just ignore them and get on with the business of governing. Positive results will win more minds than bombastic words. Everything is not automatically the “best” or the “greatest”. Making this claim over and over makes you sound a bit foolish and thin-skinned.
Now we have to look at the media as well. I know that most of them supported Hillary Clinton and they don’t Donald Trump. They like to cover him because he is good for their ratings or sales but they don’t like him or his policies. The White House Correspondents dinner this week was a classic example. Over and over the crowed cheered speakers when they criticized President Trump. One speaker made a joke about Hillary Clinton not being in attendance because someone told here it was being held in Wisconsin and she does not go to Wisconsin. The crowd began to boo him. This is a not so subtle hint at the bias they have. And it creeps into their reporting. More and more of what I read in the major papers of the country starts to read like an op-ed opinion as opposed to news. They inject their views into the story even when it is not called for.
So when you sum it all up you find a government that is every bit as polarized as the nation as a whole. Politicians seem more bent on keeping control or gaining control of government than actually accomplishing things that will move that nation forward. Just as the Republicans did no cooperate with Obama the Democrats now seem more bent on not cooperating with Trump than getting anything done.
So the topic of discussion all day in Washington DC is whether the government should have a shut down. The President expressed his frustration and said “maybe we need a shutdown.” This is a high risk calculation on both sides and if the media is fair about it they would realize that it takes both sides to force a shutdown. If the Democrats refuse to negotiate in good faith and instead just play politics as usual then they should actually assume more of the blame.
I remember a quote from President Obama that was repeated by Democrats over and over for the past eight years: Elections have consequences, I won.
I guess they don’t believe that anymore.