It used to be said that all politics is local. Today's Republican Party is about proving that all politics is just politics. The pretense that there is some underlying principle guiding the current push for fiscal reform is just that, a pretense. Conservatives are using financial arguments to pursue a familiar social agenda, and right wingers like Michele Bachmann have made fiscal responsibility and abortion reform two sides of the same coin.
The struggle between rational economic theory and partisan talking points is a frustrating exercise in meaningless chatter that consumes far too much air time and leaves listeners with less of a grasp of the issues than they had when they tuned in. The country is now faced with the possibility that government will be shut down as the two sides argue about the size and scope of proposed cuts to services and programs. Right wingers continue to charge the Obama administration with socialistic goals while progressive opinion has concluded that their hero has gone over to the other side.
Self-styled Constitutionalists insist the country has deserted the goals envisioned by its founders. Possibly what has so often been said about our founding document is true, that it is elastic enough to allow for change yet incorporates the basic principles embraced by most Americans. What is so strange about most of the arguments in this regard is that religion has become acceptable as part of today's political dialogue in some circles despite the fact that it is strictly forbidden as a test for holding office in the Constitution.
The most peculiar standard-bearers on the side of righteousness stare into cameras and rant about their huge numbers of children and grandchildren as if their procreation were a testimony to the validity of their political credentials. Take a good look at these people some time and the staring will begin to make you exceedingly uncomfortable.
It seems clear that the founders hoped to create a document that took into consideration the various factors of a diverse society that has only grown more diverse over time. By having one house of Congress run by majorities from each state and providing the Senate with two representatives the electorate was assured it wouldn't be overwhelmed by the sheer force of numbers and balance would be achieved. What has happened, however, is that small states have been able to stymie legislation with filibusters, by putting secret holds on nominations acting in ways not conducive to the conduct of good governance.
Majorities do after all indicate a body of opinion that has to be accommodated;
But what is referred to as the majority opinion in, say the Supreme Court, can be a matter of one vote in numerous five to four decisions that determine the direction of a 'just society.' Especially when judges are elected or, worse, appointed by political leaders who want nothing more than jurors who will swing their way in the decision-making process, respect for the judiciary has ebbed in recent years. It is no secret elections that trend right or left can bend the court one way or the other, the reason we now have a Supreme Court that follows the dictates of the business community, having been appointed by a Republican leadership that favors corporate personhood rather than the rights of individual persons.
Words seem to have lost their depth of meaning bearing only the slightest most superficial slant on complex matters that require greater attention and less rhetoric. Sure why not shut the government down and teach those Democrats not to toy with our brave new world say Republican Tea Party activists as if such a course of action were of no greater moment than a vote on whether or not to paint the Senate chamber. Do these latter-day centurions really believe they will be able to mold the political landscape to their specifications now that they hold power? And have they been chosen to lead because of their superior intellect and singleness of purpose?
In another of the endless Tea Party events the other day Dick Morris giggled his way through comments meant to engage his audience. Although the numbers were smaller than usual and the enthusiasm somewhat muted the group still had its share of silly costumes and foolish reactions to numbingly dopey humor. Morris told the group the water in DC was bad and should be boiled and tea-bag-infused. Get serious Tea Partiers or at least get seriously funny..
Simple-minded gags and non-solution solutions put forward by the dimmest wits around are a drag on sensible discourse.