The further this whole debt fiasco develops, the more we’re starting to see the curtain pulled back so we can get a pretty good look at the mindset and inner-workings of just who’s in charge here. And folks, it ain’t pretty.
Mitch McConnell has emerged as a surprising figure during the debates, taking to the stand and saying pretty much everything under the sun, even going so far as to suggest a Constitutional amendment because “elections” haven’t “worked”. Don’t get it confused, the reason Mitchy is saying this is because the people elected the “wrong” party, the ones who couldn’t get it done the way he wanted it.
Thus we have our problem. I’m not going to get on here and claim I’ve never suggested that Democrats hold unyielding to certain things. Hell, that’s why the filibuster exists; sometimes an issue is so critical that even if your party doesn’t have the weight behind it you just god damn need to take a principled stand. That’s fine. I’m not even saying Republicans haven’t had a couple good reasons to stick by their guns.
The problem, however, is that the whole damn reason we have elections is because not everyone agrees. If you watch the regular mouthpieces on TV, undoubtedly you’ll see people from one side or the other saying “this needs fixed!” and promptly describing their party’s solution to the debt situation, with no indication that they acknowledge that the other side also wants to fix it, but believes their solution is the one that will work. Instead, Republicans and Democrats both are often painting the debate as though their side wants to fix the problem and the others just want to jerk off and watch TV*.
Given that, in the abstract, Democrats and Republicans do not have mutually exclusive solutions (cut spending and raise taxes, anyone?), there’s no logical reason why each side can’t get half of what they want and concede the other half. There, as they say, lies the rub. The Republicans won’t do that, as evidenced by Mitchum’s outrageous declaration that the Constitution needs amended because his party isn’t getting what they want, and that is what he’s saying. Again, the debt ceiling has been raised lots of times in the past decade, but it’s only now that the GOP is treating it like a catastrophe.
The idea of a democracy is that the people, all of the people, get to decide their fate. People who support democratic solutions and people who support republican solutions all want to see the problems of today fixed. The point to remember is that we disagree on the how, not whether or not the problem needs fixed at all. Everyone wants this ironed out. It’s not like the Vice President said deficits don’t matter or anything. Holding the country hostage because you can’t get all you want is saying you don’t give a good god damn about coming together.
Now, one could say “that’s great, Hanlon, but Republicans truly believe that tax cuts would be damaging to the economy! They’re holding firm because they don’t want to make the problem worse, not because they’re just being bullheaded!” Okay, fair point. However, does that mean let the time run out? Potentially plunge the economy into a pit over a disagreement? That’s how compromise works: you sit down with someone you disagree with and the pair of you work out a solution that you may not love, but can at least deal with, for the good of everyone.
One thing that Republicans spent a while bleating about was that Americans are sick of partisan politics as usual, and they want to get beyond the petty in-fighting of the past so we can all come together and move forward. They were right about that, but dishonest that they had any intentions of doing anything different. Americans do want us to get out of this antagonistic bullshit and get some things done, but that can’t happen as long as one side digs in their heels and refuses to budge on anything. Sorry, but that’s the reason we have a multi-party system. Otherwise, the majority party would be the only one in Washington at all. Consensus, compromise, working together.
It might be a bit contradictory of me to be on here whining that Republicans are holding firm while at the same time looking back on the Democratic Congress (minority or majority) and saying what a shame it was that they were constantly yielding. On the surface, sure, but the problem was more that the definition of “Democrats compromising” was for the Republicans to browbeat enough Democrats into jumping ship for bills to pass while not giving anything up on their own side. I’m not suggesting that all legislation be moderated, but when it comes to a crunch, yes. Work with the other side, that’s why both are put in Washington.
I find it amazing that I’m writing all of this when Republicans are the minority. It’s really surreal. Even with a blue president and the Democrats holding half of Congress, I’m still watching Republicans lasso the nation and paradoxically complain that Obama is holding the country hostage. Apparently the new definition of “holding hostage” is to refuse to give Republicans everything they want. It also doesn’t speak too well for the Democrats that they still can’t get shit through. Seven debt ceiling hikes under Bush, and number 3 under Obama hits a stall.
Hell, I’ll even go a step further and say this isn’t good political sense. If they refuse to bend, Obama and Democrats hit the campaign trail and point out how Republicans refused to compromise and cut a deal, so it’s their fault. However, there’s a win-win situation if they do compromise on the political side. If they compromise and the plan yields some fruit, they can say they were part of a winning strategy. If it fails, they simply say “we gave the Democrats a chance, and they ruined it. See what happens when Democrats get their way?” If I were a purely cynical asshole working for Republicans, I’d say let ’em try it. Let ’em hang themselves with their own strategy if they’re so confident about it. There’s an election just over a year away, so if Democrats are so sure it’ll work, go for it.
Forgive me if this is an amalgam of a hundred disjointed ideas, but I’m at a point where I’m almost overwhelmed. The rhetoric and partisanship has hit a fever-pitch, worse than anything I’ve seen in over ten years.
*Admittedly that’s what I’d want to do.