Monday, October 27, 2008

One-party rule

From what is apparently the continued desperation of the McCain campaign, we now have the message going out that offers the horrifying specter rule! A vote for Obama is a vote for giving unlimited power to Pelosi and Reid, and the republic will be inextricably lost. A couple of thoughts:

1) John McCain is a maverick, forever willing to buck party orthodoxy, flouting Republican beliefs to stand up for what's right. He's barely conservative, perhaps the most Democrat-ic of all Republicans. (Forgetting that that is almost completely untrue) we should have everything to fear from a McCain presidency, as he will be continually reaching across the aisle and working with the dreaded Pelosi and Reid to get things done, so he'll be every bit as bad as Obama.

2) More seriously, though I have some sympathy for the view that suggests that the consequences of either party having control of the White House and Congress is negative, I don't think that's an argument that will fly right now.

The negative perception of Congress is based, in my opinion, on their total lack of ability to accomplish anything. This country faces great challenges, and has for some time, and our lawmakers have dithered around, spent more time trying to manage perceptions than to solve problems. One can take any example, but I think of the immigration "crisis" that has bubbled up periodically over the past few years. Each time, our leaders move this issue to the front burner, treat it as a vital threat or promise, and make bold speeches on the floor of the House and Senate. People march in cities across the country, get a lot of media attention, believing that something (whether they like that something or not) will happen. Legislation is drafted, amendments offered, talk shows booked. And nothing happens. We still don't have comprehensive immigration reform, but our solons have managed to fill their reelection coffers with money.

This example, multiplied by a factor of everything, is emblematic of Congress' approach. Even in 2007, when the Democrats took back a majority, Nancy Pelosi was everywhere, vowing to get big things done. Where are those things?

Unless one seriously believes that Barack Obama is a closet radical or Marxist, it's hard to get too worked up about one-party rule this time. I don't have much confidence that, even with a like-partied president, our lawmakers will get off their duffs, take some chances, and enact some meaningful changes. Coupled with Obama's apparent deliberative nature, I don't see much chance that we'll undergo a massive leftward tilt in our policies and programs. But maybe we'll see some kind of shift toward action instead of stasis. Frankly, after the inertia of the last several years, I'd welcome some movement, even if I don't agree with every single program that is put in place.

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