Chaos in the Capitol

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by Moe White –

Nearly three dozen Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives—almost 15% of their numbers—have announced their retirements, resignations, or plans to run for other offices rather than seek reelection this fall.

Some have been forced out by exposure of sexual improprieties; most have expressed dismay that the climate in Washington is “negative,” “grid-locked,” “overly partisan,” or simply “unpleasant.”

It’s a revelation to listen to these 29 men and six women complain about how dysfunctional the Congress and the entire government have become, because it’s their government. They run it! They run the House, the Senate, the Executive branch, even the Supreme Court. They have absolute control over all branches of government, including cabinet departments, congressional committees, appointments, ambassadorships—to say nothing of 67 of 99 state legislative houses and 26 state governments controlled in their entirety by the GOP (legislatures and governors), compared to eight controlled by Democrats.

Clearly, the Republican Party believes strongly in the power of government, since they spend hundreds of millions of corporate dollars every year to gain control over it. Yet to a man (and occasional woman), they refuse to accept the virtue of governing.

Or, perhaps, they simply don’t know how to govern.

Can’t run it, can’t run from it

After almost 40 years of alternative facts—first articulated by Ronald Reagan and underpinned by two decades of Fox broadcasts—Republicans clearly believe their own propaganda: that the American people hate “big gummint” and will celebrate when it is destroyed. So they do their best to destroy it, and then wonder why it doesn’t work.

The arcane rules of “the world’s greatest deliberative body” are designed to ensure deliberation, compromise, and input from the minority party. Yet Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader and master of those rules, cannot implement them except in opposition (other than to pack the courts with right-wing ideologues). When Democrats led the Senate, McConnell used those rules with facility and joy to keep President Obama from appointing a justice to the Supreme Court and block other Democratic initiatives. Now he pitches a fit when the Democratic minority uses the same rules to thwart him—which they have done by occasionally enlisting a few Republicans who refuse to obey him more than 99% of the time.

On the other side of the Capitol, Paul Ryan, having built a spurious reputation as a “policy wonk” (or, as has been said of him, “a stupid person’s idea of what a smart person sounds like”), proves himself a completely empty suit when reality knocks at his door. His inability to control his caucus’s far-right flank (led by Asheville Republican Mark Meadows), stands in pathetic contrast to his predecessor, Nancy Pelosi. Leading Democrats is “like herding cats,” according to Bill Clinton, yet Pelosi got the wayward Democrats to pass important legislation during Obama’s first two years. Ryan, whose party encompasses a range of ideology extending from far right to extremely far right, can’t even do so with a huge majority in a party whose cardinal rule is to obey the boss.

The new “Wisconsin Idea”

What is it about Wisconsin? Is there something wrong with the water there? Have the cheese-heads switched from cheddar to Swiss, leaving their brains full of holes?

This is the home of the fabled progressive movement led by Republican Gov. Robert LaFollette (1901-06), who then served in the U.S. Senate for 20 years (1906-25). It’s where the visionary Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party was born; where, in the words of the Wisconsin Historical Society, “The Wisconsin Idea … was that efficient government required control of institutions by the voters rather than special interests, and that the involvement of specialists in law, economics, and social and natural sciences would produce the most effective government.”

Effective government = good government. A progressive Republican idea!

Yet the state is also the home of Sen. Joseph McCarthy, the witch-hunting anti-communist drunk who destroyed countless lives and reputations during a six-year reign of terror in the 1950s. He was long thought to be an aberration in the state, but in a single more recent generation Wisconsin has elected the dimwitted conspiracy flake Sen. Ron Johnson; the Koch brothers’ lapdog Gov. Scott Walker; Rep. Paul “a stupid-person’s-idea-of-what-a-smart-person-sounds-like” Ryan; and the departed White House Chief of Staff and Trump enabler, Reince “frightened-of-his-own-shadow” Priebus (who was not elected to any public office, but to the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee).

These four Russian nesting dolls help make the case for reverse secession: can the rest of the states evict Wisconsin until it comes to its senses?

I want my gummint help!

Per capita, voters and takers in the so-called “red states” are far more dependent on the government they have been taught to hate than the intelligentsia and makers in the “blue states.” They get more welfare, more Medicaid, more SSI, more unemployment income, and their states overall get far more Federal dollars than blue states. They have worse statistics in education, health, life expectancy, employment, earnings, and opioid addiction.

The constant flow of money from blue to red will slow down or even stop if Donald Trump and red-state Republicans fulfill their budget wishes. And what will red-state voters do if that happens? They’ll whine about losing all that help from “big gummint” even as they blame that same “big gummint” for all their problems.

I can only quote Donald J. Trump: “So sad.”

 


Facts From The Front is a monthly column by copy editor Moe White in which America’s Constitutional democracy is defended against ongoing assaults by those who prefer less palatable alternatives: oligarchy, autocracy, theocracy, feudalism, fascism, and other nondemocratic methods of government. Among the qualifications for White’s commentary and ridicule are hypocrisy, dishonesty, corruption, unbridled greed, flat-out lies, and sheer idiocy on the part of public figures.

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in “Facts from the Front” are those of the author. They do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of The Urban News.

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