Over the Cliff and through the Woods to Grandmother’s House We Go

By on November 21, 2012

The verdict is in. The election is over. The post-mortems flow forth. You can take your choice on why the election ended up the way it did….. Republicans did not appeal to much more than older married white folks. The Democrats gave gifts to bribe key voting groups. Romney was not a true Conservative. Romney was a poor campaigner. Chris Christie was a traitor for embracing Obama. Grover Norquist was a thug for making the Republicans adhere to his pledge. Paul Ryan was a smarmy dud. Too many people in the cities voted. The Republicans held the House because of gerrymandering after the 2010 elections. Susan Rice is an incompetent drooler. John McCain is a senile racist. Yah-dee, yah-dee, yah-dee.

It is all pretty silly. We had an overdose of this drivel during the election. Apparently we are going to get even more. The country remains deeply divided. The Republicans remain in control in the old Confederacy and the heart-land of the Mid-west where Evangelical Christian influences are strong. The Democrats control the Far West and New England and states where there are large urban or education centers. Romney turned out to be just what he first appeared to be. Dumb statements on the campaign trail do have consequences.  Meanwhile the country has some significant problems that need immediate solution. After a round of photo-ops with elected officials saying “things look promising,” we are back to gridlock and stubbornness, finger-pointing and character-assassination. The race for 2016 is off and running with the names Clinton and Biden, Jindal, JEB Bush and Rubio already the focus of intense speculation.

Who at this point really cares?   The Middle East is heating up again. Someone asked last night at a gathering “What Happened to the Arab Spring?” The answer came quickly, “It’s Fall now with winter approaching.” No one wants another war there. I’m not even sure if the US is ready to march into Iran which does have a Weapon of Mass Destruction in the works. The sight of all these maimed and traumatized wounded veterans coming home should sober up even the most bellicose Country-Club-Nineteenth-Hole general and video-game commander-in-chief. Fiscal disaster, tax and health care reform all need quick attention. We still need good full-time jobs, as health insurance is still linked to employment. Clearly the one adult in the room throughout all this is the President, who will not have to run for anything in the future. Boehner who is key to the process needs to hold onto his leadership position. The rest look like kindergartners by comparison. McConnell facing a tough fight in 2014 should have stepped aside if he wants to run again. Reid hangs on to his leadership position. So does Pelosi who found the question of making way for younger talent “insulting”. Eric Cantor has been shut out of the negotiations for good reason I suspect, the one encouraging political development since November 6.

A failure of Congress to function would now call into question our whole system of governing for many voters, especially younger ones. The idea of a second Constitutional Convention still looks mighty attractive to us at the Post. Filibuster reform, lobbyist constraint and loosening the iron grip of seniority deserve immediate attention. They aren’t in the Constitution now, but more prudent language on function should be. The John Adamses and Thomas Jeffersons of our day don’t seem to end up in Washington, and that has become a huge problem for this country. The President will need to remind those who are there that the motto Country First is supreme. And he may need to remind voters that baby- and ass-kissing are not the true tests of good stewardship of the Public Trust. We need public officials who can get the work done.

The time for talk (and kissing) is over. The time for rolling up sleeves and digging in is at hand. Youth, and everyone else, should now be served by those elected November 6. If not, the ol’ rocking chair awaits.

Tom Godfrey

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