Gridlock Is Our Greatest Hope
The case for divided government
Get ready for the most productive and decent political condition known to man: sweet gridlock. You get nothing. And after what you've been through these past few years, you deserve it.
Hey, things are tough. A new Rasmussen poll says 48 percent of voters regard President Barack Obama's political views as "extreme." Not surprising, seeing as—how can I put this without being hyperbolic?—Washington has been doing to the economy what Piranha 3D has done to cinematic excellence.
So with Democrats in deep trouble, it's time to start pondering this creepy and amorphous "anti-incumbent" wave.
Weird, isn't it, that few (if any) fiscally conservative Republicans seem to be troubled by this indiscriminate rage of voters? Perhaps—and this is a stretch, I realize—these voters are disturbed or enraged specifically by the policy choices of Democrats? After all, there are polling experts who suggest that Republicans might take back the House. Some assert that even the Senate may be in play.
Don't worry. Unlike recent momentous, history-altering elections that saw Democrats sweep into power—The Thumpin'!—this midterm is nothing more than a reflection of some misguided fears about the economy ginned up, presumably, by Fox News.
Whatever the why, Republicans will have enough votes to prevent any more great leaps forward. Nothing of consequence will happen. And nothing could be better.
This week, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio)—emboldened by the prospect of an unearned return to power—asked the president for the resignations of his economic team of Tim Geithner and Larry Summers. (As if it makes a difference which technocrat is meddling with your life.)
Republicans would, unlike the last time out, make significant cuts in spending and taxes, ease the overbearing regulatory system, and repeal nationalized health care.
Maybe. But in the near term, the president certainly would veto any ideologically unpalatable legislation. Just as certainly, he never would allow Republicans to undo his major legislative "accomplishments." If Republicans do take over the Senate, Democrats can filibuster legislation just as easily.
There is no greater check on power in Washington than two strong political parties.
Safe to say there will be enough secure Democrats and secure Republicans that legislative activity will be winnowed down to the bare necessities—namely, politics without policy results. And that's fine by me.
What we need now is to stop the implementation of any more bright ideas and give everyone a break.
I recently read a Newsweek piece ("On Our Own") examining the nation's economic troubles. Government, the story explained with a straight face, "seems to have run out of ideas for rebuilding the economy, but businesses and consumers are figuring it out for themselves."
Out of ideas? Hardly. And that's the problem. But what I particularly liked about the piece was that it neatly summed up the prevailing "idea" of the Washington establishment: Without government's help, you're on your own (a condition, incidentally, that is supposed to be scary).
Washington is stocked with folks who possess the extraordinary gift of believing that they have the ability to manage and organize complex economic systems—and our behavior in them.
The one thing that they won't accept is that businesses, consumers and citizens can "figure it out for themselves."
We need gridlock to help them. And us.
David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Denver Post and the author of Nanny State. Visit his website at www.DavidHarsanyi.com.
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