Thoughts on the shutdown

I've been reading the same commentary as you have about President Obama's curious lack of leadership and Tea Party Republicans acting like spoiled children.  I agree with most of it, so I won't parrot those thoughts here.  Instead, I have some questions for people across the political spectrum.

For the Tea Party:  What have you accomplished?  I don't mean with the shutdown.  I mean EVER.  I admire the Tea Party as a political movement.  Lots of people are angry and fired up.  They've elected representatives (and also managed to get some Democrats elected by knocking off moderate Republicans in the primaries).  To what end?  What policies in the U.S. are better because of the Tea Party, or even different?

For the Republicans:  The Tea Party is going to destroy your party.  You are going to lose the presidency once again in 2016 because the Tea Party will do to any credible candidate what it did to Mitt in 2012.  So when are the moderate Republicans going to reassert themselves, rescue the party, and start governing responsibly again?

For the Democrats:  Was it really a good idea to pass a health care bill without a single Republican vote?  I'm not sure it's fair to change 18 percent of the economy when a sizable proportion of the American people don't agree with the health care reform, or don't understand it.  And I know it wasn't politically wise.  Without Republican buy-in, this reform is not durable.  The Republicans will be trying to overturn this legislation for the foreseeable future, which will create enormous uncertainty and confusion.

For everyone else:  What are you going to do about all this?  A pragmatic Centrist Party, or some kind of movement that brings together people of the political center, has never made more sense.  If you believe that, then do something about it.

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commented 2013-10-10 13:21:35 -0600 · Flag
A simple and bizarre tactic called the Hastert Rule is a huge part of the growing problem.

Just to be clear, the Speaker of the House can bring any bill to the House of Representatives at anytime and let the bill be decided with a vote. For reasons that once seemed rational, the Speaker also has the authority to simply sit on a bill and not bring it up for a vote. The Speaker’s authority to sit on a bill is rooted in protecting the rights of minorities and we need to respect that legacy while crafting a new law that helps us get back to common sense.

Speaker Boehner does not bring a vote to the floor, he says, because of the Hastert Rule. Now, you’d think that this “rule” was some kind of law or even part of the structure of the House laid out in the Constitution considering that this “rule” is the reason that a small group of Republican Representatives are able to bring the country to it’s knees. The truth is that the Hastert “rule” is just an idea brought forward casually by Denny Hastert in 2006 during an interview with the press. Hastert’s notion was that any bill that would not get a majority of the MAJORITY PARTY votes should never be brought to the floor for a general vote. Newt Gingrich started this practice but Hastert was the one who kind of explained what it was and so his name is attached to it. Even Denny Hastert says that the “rule” is not anything more than a whimsical idea to protect the interests of the far Right. If you find this unbelievable…

In this age of huge lobbying and extreme gerrymandering, we need a new law that stops the Speaker of the House from hiding behind the Hastert Rule and eventually being forced to put a bill forward for a vote.

I’m pretty sure that Boehner wishes there was a law right now that forced him to bring a “clean CR” bill to the floor. He desperately needs something that “forces” him to do this so that he doesn’t have to fear losing his role as Speaker just because he decided to do the centrist, common sense thing for his country.
commented 2013-10-03 13:50:56 -0600 · Flag
Ignoring the concept of fiscal and personal responsibility by making the government the “Grandmother” for all of us has caused much of the fundamental problem from the left, and the right has made it worse by resorting to theatrics.

In the ’60’s and ’70’s, we had some vibrant and powerful moderates — McCloskey & Percy to name a couple — and that element is gone from the Republican party, who were joined by like minded Democrats. Those days are gone, and this movement is precisely what is needed. The pendulum has to stop swinging to the extremes.

Can we really look at ourselves in the mirror and say that America is great these days? If we don’t do something, and allow this to perpetuate, we get the government we deserve, and the inevitable consequences. I’m encouraging everyone I know to become involved.
commented 2013-10-02 17:01:53 -0600 · Flag
There is actually already a movement which has many of these features and it is already in existence.

Check these out:
commented 2013-10-02 16:58:55 -0600 · Flag
The voices of reason have been overcome by the shouts from extremist viewpoints. I believe there is substantial dissatisfaction with the conduct of both parties, but it seems that voters are unable to direct their discontent in a constructive manner. There seems to be a growing sense of cynicism concerning the government in general, and I believe that given a viable option for changing the system in a positive manner, people will take it. The key is letting people know that there IS an option available other than apathy, and to let them know emphatically what it is that Centrists represent. Too many voters are uninformed and when asked of their views, they merely parrot what their chosen party has stated as the correct viewpoint. We need informed, conscientious voters to help promote the change that can save this country from stagnation and mediocrity.
commented 2013-10-01 12:45:21 -0600 · Flag
That’s right Daniel, it needs to be comprehensive reform. Campaign finance may be one of the biggest issues, but it is by far not the only one. Let’s also step outside the box for a minute. If we are building a new movement, who says we need to play by their rules?

Why not create our own? Term limits, ban on becoming a lobbyist afterward, 100% citizen funded campaigns. With a strong organization we won’t need to beat them at their own game. It has to be a modern organization that provides real value to every member of the movement.

It may be hard to motivate people these days, but politics has passed the boiling point and something needs to fill the void. If that something is truly revolutionary, people will come in droves.
commented 2013-10-01 12:28:12 -0600 · Flag
I believe we need some fundamental changes to our entire political system- changes which, admittedly, will be next to impossible to implement because the people who benefit the most from the status quo are the same who hold most of the political capital. As Chris says, we have a ‘democratic deficit’ that is working against the direct will of the people in favor of politicians whose only concern is to get elected again.

First, eliminate lobbying. All of it. Given Citizens United vs FEC, this will probably take a Constitutional amendment (like I said, it won’t be easy). Let lobbyists spend money on convincing the voters of their causes, not spend it on buying Congressional seats. At the very least, we need an amendment to declare that corporations are not individuals, and have different rights than individuals!

Second, Congressional recall. Only 18 states have the ability to recall Congresspeople. I think the citizens of all 50 states deserve this ability. It is preferable to term limits because while term limits can conceivably work against a good or bad representative, a recall is much more directed and deliberate. Again, a Constitutional amendment would be required.
commented 2013-10-01 11:35:46 -0600 · Flag
I think everyone here is not realizing the root of this partisan divide. The shutdown has angered both the left and the right. It is not that this is an issue with what Americans want for their country it is a question of how our country currently has a democratic deficit which is crippling our ability to survive.

The thing is that our government has become responsible to the funders of elections rather than the citizens. It is a disease which favors the status quo and attacks progressive change which we as a people want to see. The progressive changes are a hindrance to both liberals and conservatives.

So rather than worry about this shutdown, and worry about why our once grand branches of government have grown into a poisonous and malignant vine lets change something.

It is time that we go after the root.
commented 2013-10-01 08:46:50 -0600 · Flag
I think the Tea Party might answer that it has sequestered the budget and brought government to a standstill. And in their eyes this IS better, because they don’t believe in Government as a force for good.

Democrats are at the opposite end, assuming that there is a Government solution to everything. Both have taken absolute positions, making compromise impossible.

Everyone else needs to own up to the fact that both parties are beyond repair. It’s past time that we get re-engaged and organize a movement that not only starts with winning six seats in the Senate, but does not stop until it has a majority.

It is time for rationality to be more popular than political theatre. We can’t be wasting billions of dollars and precious time with petty arguments. We need a government startup not a government shutdown, so let’s get it kickstarted: