Thursday, March 30, 2017

Empty Suit?

Donald Trump is turning out to be an empty suit.   All bluster and no real power or action.

Trump made news again today (literally "made" it) by threatening the Republican "Freedom Caucus" whose goal is basically to take away our freedoms.  The freedom caucus had a good laugh and went back to their black rituals in the basement of the Rayburn building.

What is going on here and have we seen this before and will we see it again?  The answer to the latter is "Yes" and "Yes" and to the former it is the nature of the party system.   Party primaries bring out the extremists - the candidates that most of us don't want but hold our noses and vote for, if they are nominated.  We are seeing this right now in Virginia, where a respected moderate is going neck-and-neck with a whack-job libertarian who has an A+ rating from the NRA.   It would sound like business as usual, but I am talking about the Democratic primary not the Republican one.

When Obama took office, the reaction in the Republican party seemed odd.   People started talking about "RINOS" - Republicans In Name Only and said that throwing people out of the party was the answer.  The reason they lost, they said, was the GOP was too liberal.   Too liberal - which is why America elected a liberal, twice.   So the Tea Party started and congress was infiltrated with right-wing libertarian Ayn Rand types who shut down the government, much to the embarrassment of the GOP.

Republicans tolerated this as they felt they were winning elections and they could "control" this far-right wing or whatever the heck it was.   Such has not been the case, and now it appears that Trump is powerless to pass any legislation, much as Obama was.   Democrats won't give him the satisfaction of compromising on moderate legislation.   The far-right thus knows it can push through a radical agenda - or at least thinks it can.   Trump's only Trump card is the status-quo - leaving Obamacare intact and funding for PBS in place, hoping it will make the freedom caucus livid.

We'll see if that works.   Two weeks, folks, until the government runs out of money, unless a new budget is passed!   Expect another shutdown showdown, this time with Republicans at the helm!

We'll see this again in the 2018 elections and Democrats are doing the same stupid thing.   After eight years of Obama, Democrats are now licking their wounds and saying, "the reason why we lost was Hillary was too conservative!   We need to go full-bore Commie in order to win, because America craves Communism!  If only Bernie had been nominated!"

This is of course, nonsense.  Only small minorities in our country tout Libertarianism or Communism as solutions to our "problems" (the rest of the world envies our "problems").   But the majority of Americans want a more middle-of-the-road solution.   Sadly, the primary process seems to amplify the voices of the minorities.

And people criticize the two-party system as dampening the voices of minority opinion!   In reality, minority opinion in America gets more play than in Parliamentary Democracies with a dozen parties or more.  Or maybe our two-party system is more of a four or six-party system and we don't realize it.

But either way, in the 2018 elections, you are going to see a lot more "radical" voices being heard.  The "Progressive" (Communist) Democrats are not going to risk going up against long-standing GOP seats, but instead challenge conventional Democrat incumbents.   The whole anti-incumbency thing will rear its ugly head again.

A friend of mine had a "Term Limits" bumper sticker on the back of her car.  I still like her anyway.   When I asked her why she was in favor of term limits, she claimed that this one thing would fix all the problems in Washington.    I pointed out to her that whenever someone says that one simple thing will fix everything, odds are, they are lying.   Also, I pointed out that some of her favorite politicians were in fact career politicians and would not have had careers if term limits were in place.   She had no answer for that, other than to chant, "Term limits!"

Chanting slogans is not a substitute for thinking.

So down the road, maybe in 2020 or 2024, maybe the Democrats will elect a President.  Maybe.   And by then, a whole new "freedom caucus" will be in Congress, this time on the Democratic side of the aisle.

And a new President will found out that controlling the House, the Senate, and the White House doesn't mean you control the government....