Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The price of independence

Source: This image was created for netivist.org.
Consider the important issues with which the nation has grappled since the beginning of this presidency and administration. 

  • the economy:  When the administration proposed to tackle deteriorating conditions in the economy by an infusion of federal spending, virtually no Democrats found the proposal unacceptable and virtually no Republicans found it acceptable. 
  • crooked finance:  When Democratic Senators Dodd and Frank drafted a plan to increase oversight of financial institutions, Republicans were united against, and Democrats for. 
  • health care:  Plans to reframe the government's role in health care produced a solid wall of Republicans against an equally solid group of Democrats. 
  • budget:  Budget deliberations fell apart because Democrats were almost uniformly lined up in supporting higher tax rates for citizens who earn more than $250,000 annually per couple and Republicans were equally unified against. 
  • the court:  The president's nominations for the Supreme Court faced the same polarization. 
In a sane world,  the men and women we elect to Congress would apply their own research and intelligence to the important decisions that confront them.  Some number of Republicans would vote with Democrats and vice versa.  Today, on the issues that matter most, solid blocs face other solid blocs, unmovable, unflinching in their commitment to the party "team." Party loyalty appears to be more important than progress.

Party leaders control important committee assignments, provide or withhold money for reelection campaigns, and advance or block team members' legislative priorities; in our political system, one often pays a significant price for exercising independent judgment despite the fact that it is supposed to work that way.  If you don't toe the line, however, you won't get a place in the game.

Such polarization and inability to negotiate are indicative of a nonfunctional system.  Only the uninformed would continue on that path going nowhere.

Time for change.

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