There’s a lot of flack flying around the internet this week about how awful the situation has gotten on Capitol Hill. And sure, things are pretty ridiculous up there at the moment, with the political machine poised to bring the government down… except it’s not. It’s actually an attempt by loud-mouthed douche-canoes on both sides to further ham it up, hopefully winning hearts and minds and cementing themselves as true defenders of their party’s so-called “zero-sum” position. Ahem.
Sure, it seems like it would be simple to bitchslap a few morons up there and force them all to STFU and work things out. Except you can’t apply common sense standards to political infighting. Partisan politics don’t HAVE to make sense. They only have to be effective in blocking the current agenda of the other side. Which agenda can and will instantly shift whenever political leverage can be gained by doing so.
We have spent the last 250 years creating a system which— like our equally entrenched legal system— is purposely designed to be adversarial. And like all such paradigms, these systems must ultimately evolve to a point where the rules are just inconvenient speedbumps to be bent and skirted, and in which the only thing important to the adversaries is who scores the most points.
We select these people by choosing the best and brightest who wish to take part, then shoving them into a regional arena that systematically tears them down, to see who is most audacious and best at lying to the public to shred his or her opponent. Then we kick them upstairs to repeat the process in ever-larger arenas until the upper levels of elected government are almost universally occupied by the nastiest, fiercest, most ruthless rule-benders (and best liars) in the country.
We rely upon the adversarial system to keep them all constantly exposing each other’s lies, and culling the weak and least vicious from their own ranks and the ranks of their opponents, until the top level is comprised of the most effective con men (and the best managers of other backbiting con men) currently available.
Sometimes good things come out of the system, from various participants. But the dogfight never stops. For better or worse, that’s just how politics in our representational democracy tend to function. The only workable alternative that history has provided us is totalitarianism. Which is usually MUCH more efficient. Frighteningly so, even. I prefer our constant infighting and Darwinian winnowing of ideas and potential legislation. It’s slower and nastier (at least on the surface), but it tends to be much safer. Nothing happens fast amidst that labyrinth of red tape. Nothing.
For the record, trying to vote in people who want to “shrink” and “streamline” our government doesn’t work.
If you vote in “smaller government” people, they become part of the government, and you discover the one thing you can’t get a government to do is to vote itself out of a job. Everyone just takes turns trying to reduce parts of the government they aren’t affiliated with, and you get political gridlock. Which is, again, where we are at.
The most interesting thing about the current brouhaha is that both sides seem to be heavily banking on the power of their respective media outlets to win them the moral high ground, but the attempt is tanking. We The People are seriously pissed off. Because in any mudslinging match this big, everyone winds up buried in it.