It is the first year of President Obama’s second term as President of the United States and it is clear that the more things change, the more they remain the same. The Democrats have a majority in the Senate, but the rules require 60 votes to move anything onto the floor for a vote. From a practical standpoint, this places the minority in control. The House is controlled by the Republicans, but the Tea Party minority continues to intimidate anyone who would even think of voting for a bill they oppose. The President tries to seek support for his agenda, but moderates have seemed to disappear and the middle has a leadership vacuum. I have been describing and discussing this situation for a very long time, and it has not changed. Why isn’t Washington able to move beyond its ideological straightjacket and truly govern? Why isn’t Washington able to agree on solutions to solve our nation’s pressing problems?
Simply put, it’s the next election stupid. If you thought that our senators and representatives were driven by the noble values of public service, you were sadly mistaken. If you believe that our institutions have evolved over the centuries into dynamic bodies where ideas flow freely and the goal is to find the best ones to meet our nation’s needs, you are sadly mistaken. If you believe that our senators and congressman are selfless public servants, willing to sacrifice personal gain for the good of the nation, you are sadly mistaken. If you believe that our senators and congressman are more interested in the power and the prerogatives accorded to them, then the responsibilities they have accepted to represent their constituents and work for the good of the nation, you are sadly correct. If you believe that our senators and congressmen are already looking to the future opportunities available to them after they leave elective office, you are sadly correct. If you believe that the all consuming priority of our senators and congressman, regardless of how it impacts on their actions on any particular issue, is the next election, you are sadly correct. If you believe that our senators and congressmen appear to be self-serving, self-absorbed and selfish, you are sadly correct.
I don’t describe our senators and congressman in this way lightly. The realization that this has become our reality is very sad to me. Since I was 14 years old and read Alan Drury’s, Advise and Consent, I have been enamored by our government and those fortunate enough to participate. I remember visiting the Capital and the House and Senate Chambers and being in awe. I have been an avid observer of our government ever since. I didn’t always agree with what was said or done, but I always felt that the motives of most who participated were honest and pure. The fact that I don’t believe this to be the case today is very sad.
Where has the courage of conviction gone? Where have ideals gone? Where has self-respect gone? Where has the nobility of public service gone? Unfortunately, the answer to those questions is, “it’s the next election stupid”.