And so, we emerge from a dark week in Washington, when many millions of Americans saw their greatest fear realized. No, not a default on America’s credit. This humble author believes such a default was never going to happen, and that this whole “crisis” was, to an extent, blown out of proportion by the mainstream media for political purposes. Rather, Americans’ greatest fear was that their desires would not be considered by the elected officials who approve bills and sign laws in this country. Example: in a recent CBS poll conducted before the deal was struck, that 66% of all Americans, including 55% of Republican voters, believed the deal should include both spending cuts and revenue increases.
How did we get the deal we did in the face of numbers like that?
The crux of the problem is that the government we’ve elected is not interested in compromise. Consider the words of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-KY) from the floor of the Senate, as discussed in this recent Mother Jones article by Andy Kroll (“Man, That Debt Ceiling Fight Sucked! Let’s Do It Again!”): “[McConnel] … described the Republican tactic of refusing to raise the debt ceiling in order to extract favorable concessions as ‘a new way of doing business in Washington.'”
It would hardly be fair of me to reference McConnel’s words, and the actions of other Republicans like House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and the Tea Party caucus, who were willing if not hoping for the government to default as a way of proving their point / drowning government in a bathtub, Grover Norquist-style, without acknowledging that Democrats were equally complicit in the final deal. After all, Democrats control the Senate and any legislation that is passed through it, and the President still holds the power of his office, at least for another few months, to sign or not sign legislation that he believes is or is not in the best interest of the country. The action of Democrats like President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) are starting to reveal a pattern. The only question is, what pattern is it? Is it a pattern of unwillingness to stand on principle (something Democrats have long been accused of, and something which may cost them electorally in the future as well as in the past) or a pattern of gleeful compliance with conservative principles? This writer will allow for the remote possibility that Democrats believe $2 trillion in cuts with no revenue increases are in the best interests of the United States and her people. If that is true, then the pattern they exhibit is one of willful dishonesty and hypocrisy. This writer will reserve judgment on the Democrats at this time, while acknowledging that, to their credit, Republicans don’t pretend to believe that we should maintain a social safety net for the poorest, sickest or most elderly of Americans, nor do they pretend to believe in putting politics before their constituents. Republicans deserve credit for being honest about their intentions, if nothing else.
And so, we finish where we started this morning. As Andy Kroll suggests in the article cited above, this protracted budget fight is just one scene in a more complex space opera of political battles, electoral fights and conspiracy-laden, Citizens-United-fueled campaign attacks that will pepper our lives for the next 18 months. The questions this correspondent will consider today are “what recourse do We the People have” and “who will stand up to all of it?”