Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"We Are Met on a Great Battlefield of that War"

I guess I was wrong again. Speaker Boehner does not have his tea party House under control. I'll leave the rest of how I was wrong in that posting to your own conclusions. The Republican House refused to accept the compromise with the Senate and the President, even though the Senate and the President came to a bipartisan agreement on the extension of the payroll tax cut. And now we have several Republican Senators, generally those up for reelection in bluer or battleground states, who are furious at the Republican House for their silly grandstanding.

The payroll tax cut will likely survive somehow. Even if they can't get it done in this pre-Holiday debacle, the Congress could always come back in January and pass it as a furious electorate will likely demand and even "rebate" retroactively what will be charged against all workers' pay beginning January 1, 2012. It could end up sort of like those "stimulus" checks President W Bush used to hand out--yet another win for President Obama in turning a "tax cut" into a "stimulus" he can't get any other way out of this Congress. The dysfunctional tea party House just handed the President a political plum.

The oddest thing of all is that somehow part of the deal worked and the Congress passed the budget for the federal government until the end of the fiscal year, next September 30, 2012. It's not a great budget, but it's better than the onerous continuing resolutions under which we have been trying to make do. We have had our own minor inconveniences in our office with severely limited travel funds to do the people's business we have been relying on travel funding from our client agencies. And without a budget in place from Congress, we did not have the cost-share agreements in place to process those travel vouchers so we have been eating some of that travel expense out of our own already frozen and diminished pockets. Not that I'm ungrateful for still having a job. I am grateful. And I'm still trying to do some good in the world. But it is so odd that Congress was half-way decent at least to fund us and instead of picking on everybody's favorite whipping boy, the federal employee, they strangely went after the entire working middle class of America in denying the extension of the payroll tax cut. Welcome to crazy town! (And Speaker Boehner, I take back all the nice things I said about you.)

I also find it interesting that my progressive friends (that is, those formerly known as "liberal" because no one wants to admit that appellation as it has taken on "evil" connotations) are so disconsolate about the current state of affairs. They are so disappointed and disillusioned in our President because he has not brought about the CHANGE he promised. There is no post-racial, less partisan new golden age of government and purified politics. Our President remains below the 50% approval rate.

Of course our President is still doing pretty well considering Congress is now below the 10% approval rate--the worst approval rate of any political institution in the history of the United States. One could ask who in the heck are the 9% who still approve of Congress? And while it's Congress's (and the voters') own fault they are so unpopular, it does not bode well for the future of our Constitutional Democratic Republic if our most popularly elected branch of government is such an abysmal failure.

Let me posit my more optimistic version of the current reality. I have often compared our current President to the transformational Lincoln. I've even reminded what is often forgotten that Lincoln, arguably our greatest President, was also the most unpopular in his day. Nearly half the country left because of his election. He had to fight a horrendous Civil War. He fought his own party extremists (the radical or "black" Republicans), and eventually paid the ultimate price. None of those extremely horrible situations have happened and I pray they don't. We are engaged on a metaphorical battlefield, a symbolic civil war, and hopefully it stays that way. And hopefully we will have another necessary "new birth of freedom."

The tea party and social conservatives are fighting among themselves. They  are not a majority nor even a minority willing to work with others for the common good. They would rather crash on the rocks as our Republican House and Republican presidential candidates continue to demonstrate.

There is still hope that our President will be reelected. His mere survival will insure that ALL the people, not just the conservative antis or the wealthy manipulators or the already privileged, will still govern in this country. He is still willing to compromise to make things work the best way possible. We all have to work together to provide better opportunity for all. Much reform needs to be done. More people have to come together to find the common ground to do so. It is much better to do this through an ugly political war than a bloody civil war.

God bless these United States and all the peoples of the world!

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