The Next Election Syndrome
by Forgiven, Mon Feb 22, 2010 at 09:25:59 AM EST
''In my father's day, you legislated for four years and campaigned for two; now it's full time,'' Bayh said this week. ''It never stops. My bottom line is that there are a lot of really good people trapped in a dysfunctional system desperately in need of reform.'' - Ohio.com
One of the main causes of the political gridlock that is gripping Washington and has brought our federal government to a screeching halt is the phenomenon of the constant campaign. Regardless of whether you win or lose moments after the election it all begins again. The problem with the constant campaign is that you basically invalidate the results of the previous election. You exchange long-term legislative initiatives for short-term political gains. Because you are always running for re-election or election to another office there is little if any incentive for compromise or accomplishing any legislative business. Bringing home pork has replaced solving complex political issues. Instead of running on any legislative record of accomplishments our congressional leaders are now campaigning on how much pork they have delivered to their districts.
As a result of this process we have sessions of congress that continue to kick the can down the road when it comes to solving major issues facing the American people. Issues like campaign reform, entitlement programs, and health-care reform continue to be discussed, debated and left to languish in session after session of congress. There may have been a time when this process was allowable in our nations past, but with the looming crisis's facing our country this attitude is no longer an option. With massive unemployment, thousands of Americans dying each year due to a lack of healthcare coverage, and the corporations amassing millions of dollars of profit at the expense of middle America we no longer have the luxury of a dysfunctional government.
The main problem I have with the tea-baggers is that they have allowed themselves to be co-opted by the same interests they claim to be against. If we in America could ever get past the trivial tribal issues that continue to divide us we could remake this country into a greater vision than the founding fathers could ever have had. The problem with going back to 1776 is that we were not a land of freedom for all and so there are many folks who are not willing to go backwards to some false premise of America. There has to be a way of taking what was good with the original visions of the fore fathers and wed it to the inclusion of all Americans. We will never be able to accomplish this if we continue to hold on to the things that divide us and ignore the so many more things that unite us.
If we allow this phenomenon of constant campaigning to continue to invalidate our elections it will only give rise to the lunatic fringe and the anarchists who want to remove all government from America. We have elections for a reason and when you lose an election you do not have the option of preventing the victorious party from governing. You have the right to present your arguments and ideas but you lost for a reason. You can't have it both ways where on the one hand you laud the political process of democracy, but at the same time if the results are not to your liking you can invalidate them through obstructionism and become political opportunists. We have to get rid of this false meme that there is a rational opposition with rational grievances against the Dems and this President. If the bi-partisan commission on the budget is not proof enough of the duplicity of these Republicans then no amount of proof will suffice. It is incumbent upon a free press to expose this duplicity and not allow these obstructionists to have it both ways. This notion of an objective press being one that presents both sides as rational is absurd when one group is not acting rational.
Another problem with the constant campaign is that campaigns are also constantly doing fundraising and putting campaigns into bed with special interests that are now crafting our legislation. The key to election victories has gone from candidate competency to candidate fundraising ability and the two are not the same. Candidates now have to appeal to the baser instincts of the party faithful and cannot be seen as being complicit in the legislative accomplishments of the other side. This has led to obstructionism versus compromise. It becomes almost impossible to work with someone whom you have demonized in getting elected and now must work with once the election is over. Of course now the election is never over so where does that leave the American public. What many of today's politicians have forgotten is that in order for democracy to work it must be by the consent of the people and if you contaminate the process then you can very easily remove the consent.
This is the era of the constant campaign – where in order to break through the clutter, first time candidates must start their campaigns two years out and former candidates start campaigning again the day after Election Day. - Joe Garecht