Al Swift 2¢ Worth

Two “Real Worlds” – Congress and “Normal People”

Scrooge sent me a Christmas Card.. Boy was he angry. Congress is wa-a-a-y out of touch. It is not in the “real world.” Harry Reid is dumb. The Speaker is hopeless. The GOP has no ideas, does nothing and stands for nothing. Why should it even exist? The letter kind of built from there.

All this, from a long-time friend who is normally calm and measured. Hummmm. If politics is 99% percent perception, we’re in trouble.

I know Harry Reid and he is not dumb. The rest of my friend’s specific harangue is equally questionable. But a national referendum would, I am sure, resoundingly agree with him. Why?

My guess? The Congress has is locked in partisan squabbling. The members look like unsupervised kindergartners. They each adamantly insist that “Americans agree with me” while they ironically demonstrate little concern with how the public perceives them.

The Republicans have, as a matter of acknowledged strategy, offered no cooperation on anything. They are the party of “No” and they are proud of it.

The Democrats leadership of the House reminds me of what Abba Eban once said about Yasser Arafat: “He never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” There have been many instances where a soft answer and a higher profile effort to do outreach to the Republicans would have made the Democratic look good instead of just a part of the problem. Who knows, it might even have brought some results. At least it would show that someone was trying to get something done rather than stick their thumb in the opposition’s eye.

Oh, I know what anyone on the Hill would say in rebuttal “Well, they started it.”
• “They are the ones who won’t cooperate.”
• “Do you know what t hey did to use last week?”.”
• “Look how we are trying to reform and vastly improve Health Care … for the good of America.”
• “Look how we’ve tried hard to stop the disaster of Health Care reform … for the good of America.”

That may sound plausible on Capitol Hill, but you’re not going to sell that to my friend or to Americans who can turn on C-Span and watch the sniping and name calling and the partisan games.

Turn then to the Senate. It is the least democratic democratic institution on the face of the Earth. Whatever happened to Majority Rule? Nothing can be done without 60% of the votes. Worse, a single Senator can hold up business, administration appointments and cause great mischief for the other ninety-nine Members. The defense is that only this will protect the minority’s rights. Hogwash. There are all kinds of ways to assure minority rights without essentially abolishing the Majority’s rights. Any institution that proudly calls itself “democratic” must set rules that eventually allow the majority to vote and rule.

My friend raged that Members don’t live in the “real world.” He’s not quite right. Members live in a different “real world”; one that a person can’t really understand without being there. Sounds elitist, but think about it: Congress is an enormously complicated institution. It is not the board of the local Kiwanis Club.

Congress will never be a popular institution. It never has been. But right now it has lost touch with how it is perceived “back home.” The Members, in fact, spend too much time worrying about “their real world” and too little paying attention to the “real world” they come from. If they don’t change their ways, create a little bipartisanship, learn how to compromise more, adamantly oppose less and behave like responsible people who are capable of doing a tough job of running the country they will soon be back home in that “real world”… permanently. GOP and Democrats alike.

From back home they will soon understand why people are so angry, why they think Congress is out of touch and even learn why Glen Beck is so popular. Congress is in denial now. It needs to wake up and review the models of historic Congresses, which had their partisan disagreements, but actually achieved great things. They need to do that for the good of the nation and for their own good. And they need to do it right away.The nation is facing monumental problems. And the 2010 elections are not far away.

Posted on Monday, August 15th, 2011
By: csh
Posted in: 2010
Colling Swift & Hynes P.O. Box 275 Clifton, VA 20124 P. (202) 347-8000 F. (202) 315-2598