Instead of a story let's begin with a simple exercise. Everyone hold your hand in front of your face with your fingers tight together. Now begin to separate your ring finger and pinky away from your thumb, forefinger and middle finger as if you were preparing the Vulcan salute. Now instead of going all the way Star Trek, separate your thumb and forefinger from your middle finger. What you have here is the representation of America. To your left the progressive liberals who want to see wealth inequality gaps closed by focusing more on the middle class and the working class. To your right you have the conservatives who want to use trickle down policies to restore America. And in the middle you have the mayhem that clinging to tightly to either side's policy ideology creates. That mayhem in the middle, your middle finger in this exercise, is fucking the United States raw every which a way but straight up the middle missionary style. There is no middle in our political system and our Congressional "missionaries" are now sacrificing themselves at the altar of partisanship as if being moderate makes them heretics.
Every election cycle you can usually expect a slew of Congressmen to retire for a myriad of reasons. However, the carnage from the houses of Congress this election cycle have been unusually high. One of the members to add to that carnage is Maine's moderate Republican Senator Olympia Snowe.
Tuesday Snowe announced her retirement saying in part quote:
"As I have long said, what motivates me is producing results for those who have entrusted me to be their voice and their champion, and I am filled with that same sense of responsibility today as I was on my first day in the Maine House of Representatives. I do find it frustrating, however, that an atmosphere of polarization and 'my way or the highway' ideologies has become pervasive in campaigns and in our governing institutions.With my Spartan ancestry I am a fighter at heart; and I am well prepared for the electoral battle, so that is not the issue. However, what I have had to consider is how productive an additional term would be. Unfortunately, I do not realistically expect the partisanship of recent years in the Senate to change over the short term. So at this stage of my tenure in public service, I have concluded that I am not prepared to commit myself to an additional six years in the Senate, which is what a fourth term would entail."
Outside of Snowe's flowery congressional rhetoric she basically said she can't deal with the bullshit that's marred the last two Congressional sessions, sessions that coincide with the advent and rise of the Tea Party.
The Tea Party -- ignited by a rant by Rick Santelli on the Board of Trade floor in Chicago -- is of the belief the United States went down the wrong dark and dangerous path following the election of the nation's first Black President, Barack Hussein Obama II. They believe the bailouts, created in the Bush administration and continued by the Obama administration, were wrong and hazardous to the free market principles of our economy. They believe the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act was a $787 billion failure that raised their taxes; though it cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans. They believe the administration's mortgage modification program was an intrusion of government onto the rights of private citizens, even though to this day the housing market has yet to hit bottom and foreclosures remain stubbornly high. The Tea Party believes Financial Reform; i.e. Dodd Frank and the Volcker rule is antithetical to an aggressive economic recovery; even though these mandates only restore rules that governed this country from The Great Depression to the defacto repeal of Glass-Steagall under the Clinton Administration. And the tipping point for the Tea Party people, the year long debate over health care/health insurance reform. The debate often left to linger by Democrats, and run wild by Republicans gave the country death panels from end of life counseling, and socialized medicine in what should have been Medicare for all.
Enraged by the liberal policies of the most liberal President ever the Tea Party people mobilized behind radical candidates and elected them to government positions across the country including Congress.
These freshman Tea Partier's arrived on Capitol Hill with an idealistic view of the way government works; that is you stick to your principles and you don't compromise no matter what. That brand of governing nearly shut the government down more times than we'd like to count; the biggest threat in April of 2011. That brand of governing tied balancing the budget to raising the debt ceiling, a routine practice that occurred 7 times in the Bush 43 administration without issue. The Tea Party brand of governing has led to new fights over settled law like Roe v. Wade and abortion and most recently the contraception coverage mandate in the Affordable Care Act.
The Senate defeats the "Blunt Amendment" in a party-line vote of 51 to 48. The "Blunt Amendment" would have expanded the religious exemption for church affiliated organizations to ban free contraception coverage to employees on the grounds of a moral objection. The amendment would have also allowed religion-affiliated employers to "refuse to cover any other preventive procedures required under the administration's rule if they had a religious or moral objection." (source)
There is no more reasonability in our political system. It is 'yes' or 'no,' 'up or down,' and as Senator Snowe pointed out 'my way or the highway.' Then we wonder why Congress never gets anything done. They simply don't want to.
This has been the most compromising administration in years. At every turn President Obama and the Democrats are ready to bend over backwards to appease and please members of Congress who have stated since January 20, 2009 that their entire goal is to make President Obama a one term President. Congressional veterans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and the creator of a hellish alternative budget Rep. Paul Ryan openly state their goals are not to help struggling Americans still coping under the heavy weight of the worst recession since the Great Depression. Their goal is not to help struggling Americans find jobs, health care, have access to Medicare or Social Security, or even close wealth and education gaps by demanding of the rich, well off, and the stupidly wealthy to pay more than 13.9 percent in taxes. Mitt Romney. Their ultimate goal is to politick like no other so the current Democrat President is relegated to one term.
Such a goal should not be the goal of public servants elected by the people to serve the people; a concept that doesn't seem to register with the most partisan of politicians on Capitol Hill. The goal of making a President a one term President is a decision made by the electorate not just by the voting bodies of the House of Congress; again another concept that does not register with the most partisan of politicians. It is because these concepts don't register that veteran Congressmen like Republican Olympia Snowe of Maine; Democrat Barney Frank of Massachusetts, Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas; Independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut; and Democrats Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Jim Webb of Virginia are leaving without a second thought from Capitol Hill.
Public service, committing a lifetime to doing the greater good, is no longer public service. Right now our political system is focused on an end game of obstructionism and intransigence to diminish the Presidential chances of the incumbent against a group of idiots who believe raising taxes on the poor, governing by the Church, and overseeing the self-deportation of immigrants will better America and bring back jobs.
The only end game of politics and politicians should be working for what's best for the people. But with the ways of the pinky and ring finger on the progressive left, and the thumb and forefinger on the conservative right all the people get is mayhem fucking them in the middle with no recourse or consequence save for the separation of our Nation into two states that cannot coexist; an internal destruction of our union that no gun and tank war could ever bridge.
This partisanship is not a physical war, but an ideological one. In a country born out of a war and that honors freedom of expression many would rather die fighting for what they believe in than ever compromise on points they don't. Only this rehash of Patrick Henry's "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" is far from liberating and only hastening a national death.
1. How else is partisan politics screwing the U.S.?
2. If Obama does not win re-election do you think all this ideological beef will be squashed?
3. Predict the Future: What happens if Obama does win re-election?
4. Is there a way for Congress to get over partisanship to get back to the people?