What motivates our leaders and lawmakers? Are these tendencies different than in years past? Most would say getting reelected has always been the driving force behind presidential and congressional actions. Too often the aspirations of constituents are not the main concern of this group, but rather raw ambition and domination of opponents. The latter is a recipe for bad government.
Most Americans would prefer to have their government representatives always looking out for their well-being and ensuring traditional American ideals. Among them are liberty, happiness, privacy and security. Nowhere is there a requirement that our country provide free medical insurance, social security, welfare and education. The federal government provides these generous and altruistic gifts because America takes care of its own. Over the years these gifts have been inappropriately reclassified as entitlements.
Our forefathers expected all Americans to work hard and earn a living, and no able-bodied individuals should be sitting at home waiting for the next check from the federal government.
America has been bifurcated into a two-party system for many years. These groups are most obviously different in the way they perceive the role of the federal government. For Republicans the goal is a smaller bureaucracy, less interference and greater states’ rights. For Democrats it’s big government that is, sometimes, overly generous to certain groups. This perspective has led to a growing national deficit.
It makes perfect sense that the majority never has total control, and that the minority closely monitor the one in power. Supplementing this very wise arrangement is the press that’s always ready to expose unfair and “non-democratic” decisions by those in power.
Today Republicans dominate the political landscape. It’s an interesting time in history because Congress is so evenly split (the Senate has a 51-49 division). Yet the majority has been unable to govern effectively even with a president from the same party. As an aside Democrats are not the only ones hampering legislation. Radical conservative elements in both houses have created roadblocks on a regular basis.
There are a number of reasons for this phenomenon of legislative paralysis. The Senate filibuster has a huge influence on lawmaking. Basically a 60 “yea” vote is required to pass legislation on many of the most important matters that come before the body. The minority has used the filibuster aggressively in recent years, to an extreme in the opinion of some. A growing number of political scientists are coming to the conclusion that the filibuster is hurting our country and should be abrogated. This would enable the majority to take back its rights in the legislative process and make the government more efficient and productive.
There are other reasons why lawmaking has become so complex. They generally have to do with the disappearance of comity and compromise in Congress. Confrontation, rather than negotiation, rules the day. In the past lawmakers debated aggressively, but liked each other personally for the most part. And there was always a way to make a deal that both sides could live with for the benefit of the country.
Exacerbating the bad feelings on both sides is the liberal bias of the press. Many pooh-pooh this fact, but it has a tremendous effect on our government. It has become such a huge problem for conservatives that a new news network was born. The media war is not yet a fair fight, but there is now a place for conservatives to tune in and hear someone who thinks like they do politically.
The ambitions and motivations of politicians on both sides have become so warped that the electorate decided to give an inexperienced outsider an opportunity to be president. Donald Trump’s rise to power occurred for a number of reasons, one of which is that he was not borne out of Washington. And voters were sick and tired of government paralysis. How has this experiment worked out? Regardless how you answer this question, our government is still paralyzed.
Unbelievably the new president was mauled personally even before he took office. There have been few times in history where a duly elected president was hated on his first day on the job. Keep in mind Trump was elected by clear majority of electoral votes and just less than a majority of the popular vote. That adds up to a lot of Americans. His performance has been questionable to this point. This author has lauded the president’s agenda and denigrated, regularly, his lack of statesmanship among many other things.
The situation is dire. America needs fixing. Our military is not up to snuff and needs rehabilitation. Our infrastructure is crumbling. The number of needy Americans seems to grow every day. Our borders remain porous and there are over 10 million illegal immigrants living in the country draining the resources of those states that house them. Congress is virtually unable to pass legislation. The minority party has one objective- obstruct Trump. There are rogue nations developing nuclear weapons that are challenging the US. And the list goes on and on.
There are three more years remaining in Trump’s term. Can the country prosper under current conditions in our government? It seems doubtful. Our leaders and lawmakers better change their attitudes and deal with America’s problems before it’s too late.
One immediate suggestion is to punish lawmakers this year that have intensified partisanship in the country in the mid-term elections. A second step is to somehow force lawmakers to enact term limits at every level of the federal government, which will enable us to finally rid the country of embedded, unproductive congress people that have done such a lousy job.