I know my regular readers are probably asking, “Doesn't he mean Trump's unfit to govern? This must be a typo.” Yes, I do mean that Trump is unfit to govern; and no, it is not a typo. We have a problem in the United States and it is a leadership problem.
The problem is actually a political party problem. The Democrats are just as unfit to govern as the GOP. It just doesn't show at the moment because they are not in power.
We now have government by finger-pointing. That is our form of government. Forget the House representing the branch of the people; forget the Senate being a great contemplative body. None of that is true any longer. It's been sneaking away for the past 40 years.
What we have now is a hybrid sort of Parliament. I would love to take credit for this revelation, but I can't. I had breakfast with my friend, and founder of “Political Orphans,” Chris Ladd. Chris is a lawyer by training and an astute political thinker. A former Republican, like myself, he could no longer put up with the hypocrisy and became an independent
He shined the light of reality on GOP rhetoric and found what they say, and what happens to be two different things. Chris mentioned to me that Congress has become like a Parliament. While Parliaments have wonderful things about them, that form just doesn't work well with three co-equal branches of government.
Early in my career, I worked for a consulting company in Washington, DC, that was Canadian owned. I had a lot of Canadian clients and even did some Washington consulting on trade issues for the Canadian Provinces. Our firm was also one of the firms that sold NAFTA to the Canadian, and American Public. I had to take a crash course on Parliamentary procedures.
They have something called Question Time each week for the Prime Minister. What that entails is the PM standing in the Parliament and members of the opposition sling arrows at him. They are rife with loaded questions, accusations, and one-sided banter. The PM can try and defend against the onslaught, but the deck is stacked against him.
That is what we now have in Congress. We have a never-ending question time only we don't have a Prime Minister. One thing I wish the Congress did have was the right to have a no-confidence vote and call for a national election.
The rancor of Parliament is what passes for governing these days. This is not Trump's fault. Although he is a product of the public's reaction to a broken system. The problem is our political parties. They reward extremism. We have the Tea Party and The Resistance going at one another these days. I don't think you realize how similar you are.
There are some issues you need to think about if you identify with either group.
- You are a significant part of the problem. Sticking to one's principles is one thing. When the word compromise is not even in your vocabulary, you cannot comprehend the first thing about governance, leadership, or America's democratic traditions. Ask any successful legislator, liberal or conservative of the past 50 years the truth of that statement. Trump is playing into it too. He is on TV at this moment talking about some proposal for which he has no Democratic support.
- The Russia Crisis is manufactured. There are no smoking guns, just a loudmouth who is addicted to political theater that has grave consequences. The United States is looking unreliable and weak. When that happens, the world becomes a more dangerous place. Look no further than the Middle East to see evidence of that statement. We are a paper tiger in the eyes of terrorist nations. All bark with no bite. There is no honest broker in the world right now.
- I worry about the decisions Democrats are making. My concern is that Democrats will make decisions merely to score points against a President of the opposite party the same way Republicans made decisions during the Obama Administration. Our collective actions take that motivation to a dangerous place for America, despite what Bernie Sanders says. I included "our" in this statement because I stand with the Democratic Party for the foreseeable future.
- Adhering rigidly to "pledges" is no substitute for judgment or responsible representation. When Members of Congress believe that their political careers depend entirely on rigid adherence to any dogma at any price, then they become a herd. Their value to the nation is sorely diminished. As conservative Senator Tom Coburn once noted in one of the debt ceiling debates "Which pledge is more important? The pledge to uphold your oath to the Constitution of the United States or a pledge from a special interest group who speak---who claims to speak for all American conservatives when in fact, they really don't?" His words were directed at The Tea Party but the same statement could be made to liberals about The Resistance.
- America's national security interests are at risk and isolationism is dangerous to those interests. Failing to keep promises to each other and to our allies sends the unmistakable message that America is neither a safe haven nor a trusted ally, for the first time in our history.
- For the extreme right and extreme left who are driving the political debate in America, a majority of Americans disagree with your dogma. Ask America, and read poll after poll that reinforces the voter's unvarying belief that we require a balanced and responsible approach to the size of our budget, revenues, and to our spending priorities. If you serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, it's true you were elected by only one of 435 Districts. However, when you come to Congress, you cannot stay blind to the needs, priorities, and expectations of the other 434 Districts serving all Americans from all walks of life, and political traditions.
- Most Tea Party and Resistance sympathizers come by their principles rationally. They are either frustrated by the size and growth of government or concerned the government wants to throw the marginal members of society to the four winds. There is an important and valuable debate that many of us hunger to have about America's priorities, its spending and taxing decisions and the kind of society we want to live in. Regrettably, we are not having that overdue conversation.
What passes for debate today reminds me of the words written by Lewis Carol, a well-known expert on wonderlands and tea parties.
The Queen of Hearts: Now then, are you ready for your sentence?
Alice: But there has to be a verdict first.
Queen of Hearts: Sentence first! Verdict afterward.
Alice: But that just isn't the way.
Queen of Hearts: (shouting) All ways are!
Alice: your ways, your Majesty.
Today, many of us feel like Alice who fell down a rabbit hole. It is time to insist the Tea Party and the Resistance stop behaving like The Queen of Hearts.
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