Monday, January 22, 2018

A Call for Congressional Competence

If ever there was a chance for the legislative Branch of The United States Government to assert itself, that time is now.

The Oval Office is occupied by a man with no deeply-held policy positions. That same man is advised by people with little-to-none legislative experience. In the run-up to this weekend’s government shutdown, President Trump made it clear to all that he has no idea how to actually govern.

Congress has made this same fact clear for the past 9 years.

It does not have to be this way.

The next three years could be a golden era of bipartisanship if the rational middles from both sides of the aisle work together to craft moderate, reasonable legislative proposals. The bomb-throwers on the left and the right can vote against these proposals, but if 67 Senators and 291 representatives stay together, they can accomplish a lot in three years.

Once Moderation forces a seat at the table for itself, it cannot be beat. There are things most Americans agree on, even in this highly polarized age. Here are a few things that would have overwhelming support across the country:
  • ·         Rebuilding America’s infrastructure
  • ·         Reforming America’s immigration policies to recognize the need for a country to control its own borders AND, at the same time, acknowledge that immigration makes us a stronger country
  • ·         Agreeing to a process for creating legislative districts that is independent of political parties
  • ·         Addressing the looming crisis in both Social Security and Medicare in a way that sets both programs on firm footing for fifty more years.

The thing is, to really address these issues, members of Congress would have to actually sit down together and talk. They would also need to truly listen. And be willing to compromise. They would need to deliberate.

Government by, of, and for the Base is not really working. It is not sustainable. We, the voters, would have to stop making everything a purity test. We would have to accept that real legislators compromise.

As a whacko Leftist Liberal, it would mean that I would have to stop demonizing anyone who is opposed to single-payer healthcare. I would also have to understand that reasonable people can disagree on the idea of mandating an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It would mean that my Whacko Rightist Conservative brother would have to make room for the idea that the Second Amendment allows for states to craft rational gun control measures. He would need to make mental room for the thought that not all regulations are bad.

President Trump has shown himself to be inconsistent in his policy stances—from month to month, week to week, and even hour to hour. If there is a solid contingent of Senators and Representatives willing to take a huge risk and step into the policy void left by an oddly uninformed Executive, Congress could reassert itself and make some things happen.

A little bit of competence demonstrated by at least one branch of the government would be really welcome right about now.

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