Thursday, July 29, 2010

Political Irrationality

Even for a newspaper columnist as level-headed and chary of overstatement as The Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne, the paucity of adults and mature debate in the present Congress appears to have reached the level of ridiculousness. After commenting today on the unsupportable notion that taxes can’t be raised in the United States, even while we prosecute two wars overseas, and the absolute fiction that President Obama’s economic stimulus program had been ineffectual (even though studies show it has “created or saved as many as 3 million jobs”), Dionne lights into the Republican’ts’ eager employment of Senate rules to prevent any legislation that might strengthen the economy, relieve the plight of the jobless, or help small businesses from reaching the president’s desk--simply for political reasons. Writes Dionne:
Then there’s the structure of our government. Does any other democracy have a powerful legislative branch as undemocratic as the U.S. Senate?

When our republic was created, the population ratio between the largest and smallest state was 13 to 1. Now, it’s 68 to 1. Because of the abuse of the filibuster, 41 senators representing less than 11 percent of the nation’s population can, in principle, block action supported by 59 senators representing more than 89 percent of our population. And you wonder why it’s so hard to get anything done in Washington?

I’m a chronic optimist about America. But we are letting stupid politics, irrational ideas on fiscal policy and an antiquated political structure undermine our power.

We need a new conservatism in our country that is worthy of the name. We need liberals willing to speak out on the threat our daft politics poses to our influence in the world. We need moderates who do more than stick their fingers in the wind to calculate the halfway point between two political poles.

And, yes, we need to reform a Senate that has become an embarrassment to our democratic claims.
Dionne’s bottom line: “Can a nation remain a superpower if its internal politics are incorrigibly stupid?” You can read all of today’s column here.

No comments: