Help Me Understand This

Is anyone leading the Republican party in Congress at the moment? I mean, I know Boehner is the Speaker, which is supposed to be pretty powerful. And Cantor keeps saying stuff like he’s got some pull.

But I honestly have never seen anything like this. Boehner can’t put forth a proposal his own side will accept. If that’s the case, then who instead should Democrats be negotiating with? How can you have negotiations if one person negotiating doesn’t actually have the authority (in real life, even if he has it on paper) to speak for his own side and make promises on their behalf?

This is actually the part that scares the shit out of me. On the one hand, Republicans are very popular–hence them getting into office. But on the other hand, they seem to be very publicly imploding. I mean, if Democrats and Republicans can’t make a deal, that could get very ugly for us very quickly.

But if Republicans, internally, can’t make deals, that already is ugly. I’m obviously no fan of Republicans, but as disfunctional as our democracy can be, it’s got nothing on a huge minority in the House deciding they’re not going to participate in democracy.

A depression would be terrible. Losing democracy is worse.

17 thoughts on “Help Me Understand This

  1. I don’t think we’re losing democracy, per se, just losing the two-party system that we’re accustomed to. Democrats haven’t walked in lock-step for years (with the result being an impediment to making substantive change to health care, or anything, really, since the Johnson administration). With the rise of Tea-Party racism and pseudo-fascist nationalism, the far right fringe of the ‘Publicans is trying to push its own lynch-mob agenda, and preventing even the day-to-day operation of the government from happening. Moving forward I think we can look expect European-style coalition building, and ultimately a multi-party system, which may not be a terrible thing. Allowing the lunatic fringe its own candidate instead of shunting it in with the (historically reasonable) Republicans might allow us to make actual progress as a nation.

    I’m probably being naive and hopelessly optimistic, though.

  2. I like your thinking fancycwabs, and agree that the two-party system, while it had its advantages at times, seems to have broken down. I’ve often wondered how well we’d do with a parliamentary system like much of Europe has, thus giving the lunatic fringe their voice without allowing them to tie the entire process in knots.

    Another advantage would be to end the endless campaign cycle. The second someone gets elected in this country, he or she begins running for re-election, shaking down donors and sucking up to interest groups. The fact that next year’s presidential campaign is already underway is utterly absurd. In a parliamentary system, elections often come at a moment’s notice. There’s a short campaign, people vote, and things move on. Seems worth trying.

    A caution, though, is the Sate of Israel, where no reasonable party is strong enough to form a government without an alliance with one or more of the ultra-orthodox parties. This ties their system into knots and has been doing so for years.

  3. Fancycwabs and David … I’d vote for both of you! I can’t seem to get my friends and family to understand the “endless campaign cycle” phenomenon and both of you are spot-on with your ideas for the lunatic fringe!

  4. the paties used to be broad coalitions like europe you had liberal moderate and conservative republicans and they all got a bit and gave a bit

    reform by only allowing donations to a candidate you can vote for eg i can not donate to marsha(woouldn’t anyway) if i live in coopers diistrict

  5. It’s important to remember that the Tea-Publicans were elected by voters who think democracy was a great idea until undesirables (brown people, female people, poor people, etc.) were included. If you look at them and the predatory toddlers they put in office in that light, they make perfect sense. It also helps that a great deal of their zeal comes from Dominionist, apocalyptic ideas that would love to see everything crash into rubble, because then, as they envision it, they’d have to opportunity to force their Republic of Gilead on all of us.

    Tangentially, a huge part of the problem is that this large plurality is unopposed by any sizable sane or constructive elected contingent. Too much of our Congress the other branches of the federal gov’t. are run by corporate-approved shills whom we have dutifully and repeatedly lined up to send to Washington.

    Unless enough of us get smart and brave enough to start voting for the kinds of candidates who’ll never collect enough blood money to afford media saturation, we’ll keep screwing ourselves. But not for long. The system can only take so much more of our electoral incompetence before it short-circuits and completely burns itself down.

  6. Can’t have you feeling too reassured, so… Today Paul Krugman wrote something that caught my eye: “This is the clearest, starkest situation one can imagine short of civil war. If this won’t do it, nothing will.”

    When any Nobel Prize-winning American economist lets it slip that civil war has even crossed his mind, I say we take that as a bad sign.

  7. The two party system is going nowhere. The public doesn’t have the will or knowledge to institute a parliamentary system. And arguing for it just gets you vilified; just ask Lani Guinier about that. No one, not the GOP, the Democrats, especially not the powerful who feed the two party machine are going to let their power slip so easily.

    The GOP’s problem with the Tea Party, and the Tea Partiers’ problem with the GOP can be instructive to Democrats.

  8. That’s an interesting observation, Mr. Mays. I would add a caveat, though, by pointing out that the teabaggers are largely a corporate/media golem. Without heavy funding and promotion (primarily but definitely not exclusively by Fox News), there would have been no ‘Tea Party.’ Not only that, but anything progressive analogies to the teabaggers– organizations with legit grassroots cred, like MoveOn and ACORN, for example– are almost completely ignored by corporate media unless they can be targeted by a ginned-up scandal.

    The Democrats aren’t interested in supporting the sort of activism that is ostensibly represented by the teabaggers. They don’t want to risk offending their corporate/wealthy masters by encouraging and courting progressive/left-wing activism. The supposed chaos you see on the right wing has a method to its madness, and it is working like a charm.

  9. I had a similar sentiment up at my place today. I’m just … dumbfounded. I’ve never seen anything like this. This is a level of dysfunction unparalleled in my memory, and I lived through the “turbulent 60s” and Watergate and the Arab oil crises and on and on.

    So this whole thing is scaring the shit out of me.

  10. The Republicans control one-half of one branch of the two political branches. The Democrats control the other two. How pathetic is it that the Democrats are letting themselves get rolled like this? Reagan had to deal with a Democratic House and he managed.

    The fact is that President Obama has lost the ability to move people. Some might say he never had it. I wouldn’t go that far. But he doesn’t have it now. If it amuses people to blame the House Republicans, well, knock yourself out. Of course they are in the opposition party, so I’m not sure what you’re expecting them to do.

    President Obama needs to take charge, which apparently is a lot to ask. If he loses in 2012, it will not be because he’s “too liberal;” it will be because when Americans wanted someone to take charge, he didn’t do what needed to be done.

  11. Roger Abramson, are you even kidding? It’s bad enough I have to hear this shit on the left, now I have to hear it from you WHO KNOWS BETTER?!

    We live in a democratic republic. Obama is not the dictator. You want him to “take charge”? How? What do you think Obama legally can do to move anyone who’s not in his party?

    He’s negotiating in good faith with people who don’t have the support of their party, who can’t make any promises, because we all know now they can’t get their own people to fulfill those promises. That’s not opposition, that’s fucked up.

    And that’s internal fucked up for the Republicans. Which you know.

    The fact of the matter is that tea partiers hate Obama so much that they’re willing to tank the economy, to ruin the whole country to prove that they won’t accept his presidency and that though they will run for office and get into office, they won’t participate in the governing of this country as long as it’s run by someone they consider illegitimate.

    And the Republicans who were willing to ride the tea party bull because of how powerful it is are now bucked off and down in the dirt with the rest of the clowns.

  12. Every time I hear about “Tea Party racism,” I’m forced to wonder if the speaker has ever met a Tea Party member. I’ve met a lot of them, but never one who’s racist. Funny thing, that.

  13. You might be right, Budd. Every Tea Party member I’ve encountered (and I’ve met several) begins a SURPRISING number of their sentences with “I’m not racist, but…”

    So I guess they aren’t racists at all.

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