I fear deeply for our country, as a country divided cannot stand. We are divided. Party loyalty is more important to many than the good of the country. People hold beliefs because their “team” tells them they are facts. Father’s day brought a rare political discussion at my daughter’s house. They’re rare because her husband gets overly loud and boisterous.

An unusual guest was at the barbecue and a brief discussion of politics ensued between she and I. In this discussion I pointed out that, if we are honest, we must accept that a major reason we have a jobs problem today is we’ve been outsourcing jobs for decades. My son-in-law literally yelled, ”NAFTA!”. I quietly mentioned to the nice lady, as my son-in-law walked off, that this is why one cannot hold a rational discussion with Republicans. NAFTA was signed by Clinton, after having been negotiated under the 1st George Bush. Michael Moore’s first film, “Roger and Me” chronicled the destruction Flint Michigan suffered from exporting GM jobs. The film was released in 1989. I happened to have a 1979 Pontiac that was manufactured in Canada.  The question here is how my son-in-law is so positive that NAFTA began the outsourcing of jobs. The answer is that is what the talking heads he listens to tell him. They tell him this so they can blame Clinton. Why? They are Republicans and Clinton is a Democrat. This is merely taking things out of context to distort the truth for political purpose.

The reason Congress’s approval ratings are so low is because it is dysfunctional. It’s ceased being a law making body and is now just a place where an ongoing civil war between the political parties takes place. How many votes in congress are on party lines? Before the tapes appeared, the Watergate Commission votes were all on party lines, so this is not so new, but today’s trenches are deeper. This is supported by the increased use of the filibuster.

How can we expect our government to get anything done when a 3/5 majority is needed in the senate to do it?

We have a Supreme Court that is dysfunctional.  The decision of Gore v Bush said, within the decision, it was not precedent setting, which, I submit, tells us it was not based on constitutional issues. I’m not aware of any other decision by the court that defined itself as non precedent setting, as they are all based, supposedly, on the constitution. In order to cover corporations with “free speech”, they had to determine corporations are people. As others have said, “I’ll believe that when they lock one up.” Those inalienable rights mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, and held in the Bill of Rights, are rights of people, not organizations, whether the organization be a business or a church. While there’s been much discussion as to the problem of corporations giving money to political PACS, there have been some awfully big checks written by some very wealthy people.

For a number of years I have defined a conservative as one who doesn’t want the government involved in our lives, but wants the free market to work, until he sees a market for something he doesn’t like: then he wants a law. Recent history shows this definition to be quite accurate. How many states, run by conservatives, have been passing laws making it more difficult for a woman to get an abortion, or access to contraception? There are laws being proposed that life begins at conception which would make many birth control methods illegal. Some laws require the woman to have an ultrasound before the abortion. Some laws require the doctors to tell women that abortion increases their risk of cancer, although this is not factual. Some laws allow the doctor to lie to the patient if he thinks she’ll be likely to want an abortion. This is the conservative’s concept of a less intrusive government.

Move up the government ladder to the House of Representatives, who ran in 2010 on “jobs”. If one can judge their priorities by the bills they pass, creating jobs is far less important to them than preventing abortion. Meanwhile, the Republicans vote down the Fair Pay Act.

Here, they don’t want the government to step in to insure equal pay for equal work. The fact that any woman would vote for any Republican, or even marry one, just adds to the dysfunction. It’s amazing how strong party loyalty is. That, I believe, is the problem.
I have a number of friends who are Republicans and a number of friends who are Democrats. Somewhere, with many of them, party loyalty trumps patriotism. Those who believed Saddam had the alleged weapons and supported that war ONLY because they believed that had different reactions when no weapons were found. One singular Republican friend decided the war was a mistake. The others found other reasons to justify it, apparently because they didn’t want to admit/think, their party made a mistake. Similarly, Democrats are hard to find that will fault Clinton for signing the bill that repealed Glass/Steagull and allowed Wall Street to play the games that destroyed our economy.

Today we have a first couple, neither of whom was born into privilege, and are both examples of the opportunities this nation holds for those who are intelligent and work hard. They have two lovely daughters and there isn’t the slightest hint of infidelity. You’d think they’d be the poster family for those “family values” the Republicans preach. They certainly don’t seem to be. Is that because they’re Democrats, or is it because of their skin color?

We’ve just had a Committee, on a party line vote, agree to charge our Attorney General with Contempt of Congress. They are supposedly they are investigating “Fast and Furious”, the program designed to sell guns to Mexicans and track them. Given that this program began long before Obama became president, it’s either a very poor investigation, or simply planned political theater.

We study history, but we don’t learn from it. If we did, we’d not believe something to be true simply because we keep hearing it. I have found that asking people to point to “Obama’s policies” that are hurting our nation. In fact, I ask them for a list of his policies that have made it through the senate. It’s a very short list. Obamacare and the stimulus are usually the only two things they can think of. They can’t tell me how either has hurt us. They’ve forgotten the auto bail out, probably because Fox News never mentions it.

For the record, I don’t like the Affordable Care Act because it continues the employer based system, and I believe that’s the single biggest obstacle to getting jobs back into this country. That said, it does benefit a number of people and, as far as I can see, has no real downside as it is an improvement over what we had. It never had “death panels.”

Last week Obama made an executive order for temporarily not deporting certain people who had come here as children. If you want proof of the lockstep politics of our parties, you only need to see Mitch McConnell’s comment on that move by Obama.

He’ll wait for the talking points, rather than voice an opinion of his own.

Our nation is being poisoned by partisan politics. Many want to see more parties. While I would support changing our system to accommodate more parties, I think that would only make the need for money greater and would exacerbate the problem. My wish is that we could eliminate parties altogether, but I have no idea how to go about it. If there were no parties, there would be no party lines, and people might have to think for themselves. That would be a novel idea.

As I write this, New York City is among those places having a couple of very hot days. This morning’s news listed areas of the city that will have brownouts, which are cuts in power to help prevent blackouts. Residents in many areas of the city are being asked to conserve energy. In some places they are being asked to not turn their air conditioning on at all.  This leads, of course, to many unhappy people. Imagine if these unhappy people did a little thinking and connected the fact that the grid they use is insufficient for today’s needs. Maybe they’d see a relationship between suffering brownouts, blackouts, and such severe energy conservation requests to Grover Norquist and the Republican’s refusal to rebuild the infrastructure this inadequate electric grill is a part of. It is just possible that spending some taxes on improving our electricity delivery system we might be able to enjoy more adequate services at a lower price.

Seems like everyone I know has some chunks of road in their area that “they” need to repair. Well, that “they” is some level of government and there is something very unrealistic about cutting funding for governments and expecting them to do more repairs. A local restaurant had a sign, “Quality is like oats. If you want high quality oats, you must be prepared to pay a fair price. If you can settle for oats that have already gone through the horse, they come cheaper.” One could say the same for government. If we want a quality government that provides quality roads and modern electric grids for today’s and future needs we have to accept the fact it needs to be funded. If you ask for a raise and your boss responded by telling you, “You don’t have a revenue problem. You have a spending problem,” how would you like it?

If people would think for themselves, they might reach the conclusion that running a government is not like running a business or a family. There are similarities, but there are differences. A good first exercise is to consider what those similarities and differences are.

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5 Responses to The Dysfunctional States of America. There’s nothing united about them.

  1. avatar sventhet says:

    I’ve often thought the same thing regarding political parties. Why do we need them? I’m no political expect, but they seem unnecessary. Why can’t there just be candidates who have their own ideas, not just a “party platform” or party line”? Then we vote for the candidate whose ideas we like the best? Once in office, this diverse group of politicians can discuss issues and come to agreements, without necessarily having to conform to any specific party ideas.

    • avatar J. Danton Smith says:

      Truth be told, over my lifetime, the real people I’ve met would be better described as “Republicrats” or “Demolicans” Few, if any, actually bought the whole party line. The party line back then was more moderate and flexible.

      Today’s Republican Party seems to feel it is in a Hatfield and McCoy type feud with the Democrats, so far sans the shooting. The success of the party politically has become more important than the success of the country. The mandate for healthcare goes back to ’94 when the Heritage Foundation presented it, along with Republican Senator Chaffee from Rhode Island. Republicans broadly supported this individual mandate from 1994 until 2009. That kind of says it all.

  2. avatar knowital says:

    My major fear is historically, governments or countries that follow our path eventually disintegrate, usually violently and morph into another into an extreme form of democracy or authoritarianism. Rarely do they regain their “footing” w/out traumatic losses.
    We’re closer to the brink of failure than we think.

    Given today is the 4th of July, thank you for the civil post, I know sometimes for my part I get caught up in the fire of my viewpoint…I appreciate a return to the calm.
    Happy 4th!

  3. avatar J. Danton Smith says:

    Our biggest problem, in my opinion, and the biggest threat we face is the “died in the wool” party member. We pride ourselves on having the “right to know” but consider being lied to acceptable free speech. I hold no party loyalty but view today’s Republicans as bringing us closer and closer to a Christian version of Sharia law.

    They remind me of the prosecutor who is more concerned with convicting the defendant than whether or not the defendant committed the crime.

    We, as voters, can choose to believe as fact that which fits our agenda or beliefs, or we can choose as fact those things that have some honest evidence behind them.

    In all of this mire, I like to ask questions of people who hold different beliefs. To those who tell us we need a balanced budget amendment, I ask them how what would work when three states are wiped out by a large hurricane. To those who insist this president has added so much spending to our debt/deficit, I ask them what he has initiated that’s made it through congress, and how much has it added to our debt.

    The 4th of July is a day we like to pat ourselves on the back and praise our founding fathers. While I think they did a very good job at giving us a system that can lead to a more perfect union, we are kidding ourselves if we think they gave us that perfect union. The constitution did not end slavery; that took a civil war. Ending slavery did not end discrimination and segregation: that took an Act of Congress. Ending discrimination and segregation did not end racism.

    My view of history is that our nation has functioned best when the tax rates were high enough to fund a government that could do space exploration and build our highways. It functions best when we follow the “My rights end at your nose” principle. Prohibition taught us nothing. If it did we’d not be having our stupid drug war all these years. Before abortion was legal, it still happened. After it is again illegal, it will still happen. People continued to drink during Prohibition, but much of what they drank wasn’t safe to drink and organized crime got rich. We like to say that we study history in order to prevent our repeating it. That’s another thing we get wrong.

  4. avatar J. Danton Smith says:

    Before I join the family to watch the fireworks, I’d like to express what I think is the single most important need for this country: truth in politics.

    I would love to see legislation proposed that REQURED news outlets, politicans/candidates and their designees, etc. to get their matters of fact correct. A political ad that takes words out of context to change their meaning and gain support for a candidate should be illegal. While most are concerned about how much money will be spent this election, I am concerned without much false information will be spread.

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