Monday, October 20, 2014

Why DC is OK with Broken States of America


It seems the government is in a permanent state of gridlock and Congress has become even more dysfunctional throughout the years. Should we expect Washington to remain gridlocked for another decade?

  • Since 1992, the Democrats’ presidential candidate has won a majority of the popular vote in all but one election – Bush vs. Kerry in 2004. In the 2000 election – decided by the Supreme Court, not the electorate – Democrat Al Gore outpolled Republican George W. Bush by over half a million votes.
  • Due in no small part to systematic partisan redistricting in every state in the Union, Republicans are now firmly in control of the lower house; if they succeed in taking control of the Senate, where seats are awarded via state-wide contests rather than in gerrymandered congressional districts, they can easily pass laws pursuant to an extreme pro-business, anti-immigrant, military interventionist agenda.
  • The chances that a Republican will be elected president in 2016 are remote: loyal Republican voters constitute a mere 25% of the electorate according to a 2014 Gallup poll, while fully 42% identify themselves as Independents.
  • People who consider themselves Independents are generally moderate, middle-of-the-road voters who vote for candidates rather than parties; they tend to shun extremist candidates and parties; if Congress is dominated by one party, especially one in thrall to the likes of Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and the Tea Party, they are like to vote for the other party’s presidential candidate.
  • President Obama will veto laws and programs passed by a solidly Republican Congress with an extreme rightwing agenda, and even the tepid Democrats in the Senate will use the filibuster to sustain Obama’s vetoes for the next two years.
  • The Democratic presidential candidate elected in 2016 election will almost certainly be re-elected, virtually guaranteeing eight more years of gridlock.
Hence, the ominous prospect of a coming decade of dysfunctional government and politics looms over the republic like the proverbial sword of Damocles.

But, unlike the rest of us, the denizens of the Nation’s Capitol have nothing to worry about – Washington, D.C., continues to prosper even as Detroit and other American cities that were once pulsing with energy and industry decay. Fact: Washington is the richest metropolitan area in America.

What the paradox of a gridlocked, debt-ridden government and a corrupt US Congress with trillions of tax dollars at its disposal means for the country and the world is the subject of my next post.

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