In the blame game leading up to, during, and after the three-day government “shutdown” last weekend, all you saw in media coverage was The Schumer Shutdown versus The Trump Shutdown. The way I see it, it was The Senate Shutdown, and about as conclusive proof as can be found that a) we have a Dysfunctional Government, and b) there is a Major Paradigm Shift Well Underway in this country.
Why Enclose “Shutdown” In Quote Marks?
Why enclose “shutdown” in quote marks? The government does not actually “shut down”. There are many ways to fund operations during these manufactured crises. Neither party would allow the funding wind-down to last long enough to actually cause the government to begin shutting down. Once the brinksmanship is over, both parties are eager to get past the “shutdown” and shift into “spin mode,” each posturing itself as the champion of the people and the winner of the brinksmanship trophy. The Continuing Resolution [CR] that ended the “shutdown” on January 22 was the nineteenth since 2009 and the sixty-first since 2000! Unfortunately, CRs have become the norm because we have not had a Legislature since 2009 that has been able to produce an actual budget and get it signed by the President!
If you think the showdown leading up to this “shutdown” was anything but political grandstanding, think again. All the hype is nothing more than political theatrics, with various legislators and their parties attempting to capitalize on expiration of a CR as an opportunity to further their narratives [which have nothing to do with any of the “issues” ostensibly driving the threat of a shutdown — the underlying motivations are simply gaining or maintaining political power].
Only five Democrats voted for the January 19 CR [the one that failed, causing the “shutdown”], and five Republicans voted against it [one of those five, however, was McConnell, who only voted “No” because as Majority Leader, he could technically leave the vote open only if he voted with the prevailing result, which in this case was “No”]. All five Democrats who voted “Yes” are from states that Trump won handily, and all five are up for reelection this year! Their leadership allowed them to break ranks and vote “Yes” for one and only one reason: their votes were not enough to bring the “Yes” total to sixty anyway [even if all Republicans had voted “Yes”], so putting this slack in their leashes gave them some talking points for their upcoming reelection campaigns.
An Insightful Observation By One Representative
The best example I saw in media coverage of just how foolish all of this looks to most Americans is this comment to a Rolling Stone reporter by Representative John Kennedy [from my home state of Louisiana] as the Legislature was finalizing the details of resolution of the “shutdown”: “It’s like a circus without a tent. I think most Americans are wondering how some folks up here made it through the birth canal.” My, my, I can think of quite a few names to put on that “some folks up here” list!
A Reasonable Way To End These Shenanigans
Unfortunately, there’s no “silver bullet” that will end all these shenanigans in one fell swoop. At least not one that is realistic — perhaps this would work, though, if it were possible: a) a fire in the Capitol that would destroy all documentation of formal adoption of House and Senate rules [which are not in the Constitution]; and b) mandatory participation of all legislators who have been in office for more than their current term in a clinical trial test to determine the effectiveness of a new device for selective memory erasure in humans [for the latter, with anything having to do with knowledge of current Senate and House rules being the target memory area, the outcome would be good either way — success, meaning nobody remembers all those rules; or the subject ends up in a vegetative state, essentially no effect for those fitting into Senator Kennedy’s “some folks up here” group].
One thing that is doable is to get rid of the filibuster altogether. I referred to this in depth in a previous post to this Blog [Going Nuclear On Gorsuch – And? …]. That would be a major step toward getting our government back to a functional status. If you didn’t read or don’t recall that post, I’d strongly encourage looking at it now. I think I built a pretty good case for getting rid of this roadblock [and in reality in this day and time, good intentions in its origins notwithstanding, that’s what it is regardless of which party is in the majority — a roadblock].
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Charles M. Jones