"BOTH SIDES DO IT" AND OTHER FAKE EQUVIALENT HOMILIES THAT REALLY AREN'T
OUR DYSFUNCTIONAL CONGRESS ISN'T THE RESULT OF PARTISAN INTRANSIGENCE ON BOTH SIDE.
“Shopper after shopper approached him, he wrote, with the same refrain. They were fed up with both parties; they were sick of Trump as well as Hillary Clinton; and mostly, there were tired of Washington punting on its responsibilities.”
This quote is from an article about occasional Walmart shopper Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) that appeared recently in Mother Jones magazine. It’s pretty much your standard refrain from the disgruntled and the left behind and is the explanation for both the rise of Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Donald Trump. You’ve seen it time and time again on television, in print and all over the internet. Problem is, it’s wrong. Not the part about folks being sick and tire and fed up but the part about Washington punting on its responsibilities. While Washington – and let’s assume it’s Congress that’s being indicted here – is depicted as a dysfunctional warthog floundering around in a stagnant cesspool and there’s a whole lot of truth to this sorry ass picture. After all, the narrative goes, Congress can’t even get a budget passed without shutting the entire Federal Government or can’t pass legislation to ban the sale of assault weapons as they once did after 372 mass shootings in the U.S. 2015, killing 475 and wounding 1,870 or spending more time on vacation, than they do working.
We can all agree on this. But when you actually take a closer look at what’s been going on, the picture isn’t one where both Democrats and Republicans have chucked their responsibilities and both have refused to do the work that they were hired to do. No. That’s not the case. Even examining recent Congressional history, we find that one of the most far reaching, complex and expansive pieces of legislation – the Affordable Care Act – was passed in 2010. The ACA (aka “Obamacare”) was the largest piece of Congressional legislation enacted since LBJ’s creation of Medicare and Medicaid or perhaps since FDR’s New Deal. How was this controversial legislation able to get through a dysfunctional Congress? It passed because both the House of Representatives and the Senate had Democratic majorities.
Our recent history has seen the history making election (twice) of an African American as our President. Problem is and for whatever reasons, a certain portion of the country’s population and a certain portion of elected officials (Republican ones) saw this event – a one time only event in all American history – as evidence that America was heading in the wrong direction, liberals had finally and forever destroyed America, the Democrats simply stole two elections through corruption of the voting process, the End of Times was near and that those of us who voted for Barak Obama (twice) had actually elevated The Anti-Christ to the highest office in the land and to the most powerful position in the world. (I’m not making this last on up. http://www.gotquestions.org/Barack-Obama-antichrist.html ). The above reactions by a certain segment of American society to the election of Black Man Barak Obama as President can be summed up by the pithy phrase “and then their heads exploded.”
In the desperate times following the Crash of 2008 with the newly elected Black President at the helm, the battle was over what actions the Federal Government should undertake to repair a clearly broken economy and a devasted populace. One side, the Republican side, pushed austerity (let the banks fail) while the other side, the Democrats, pushed government intervention (the New Deal actually worked). While House Republicans fought Obama at every step of the way (no way would they even consider his “infrastructure development bank” he proposed and that now both Presidential candidates are proposing today) to fix roads, bridges, railroads, electrical grids, airports and other critical national systems.
But since the passage of the historic Affordable Care Act, Congress’ dysfunction is not the result of Democrats and Republicans not getting along and each side simply refusing to cooperate with their counterparts across the aisle. After the head exploding election of Anti-Christ Obama and the passage of the ACA, the 2012 election saw the election of Tea Party House members, the formation of the Freedom Caucus and the continuing pursuit by the House and Senate of the flayed, dead horse otherwise known as Benghazi. These events, don’t forget, followed along on the 2010 pronouncement by Senate Minority Leader at the time, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that the Republican’s primary working agenda was to ensure that Democrat Black President Barak Obama would be a one term President. This doesn’t have the ring of cooperation and give-and-take, to me.
So in our recent history, it appears that there is one Party who is really pissed off about a raft of things, and it happens to be the Exploding Heads Republican Party.
Casting a glance ever further back in our history, say since 1980, what we’ve seen since then is the imposition of conservative economic, social and political policies at both the Federal and State levels that have had devastating impacts on all of us (except for the wealthy and corporate CEO’s). Family incomes have declined, unions have been smashed, student debt has exploded, legitimate voters have been disenfranchised, the worst world wide economic collapse in 80 years happened, corporations have gained personhood, and no longer is the very foundation of all that America represents, The American Dream, has exited the scene. Democrats not only acceded to this tide of conservatism, they actually assisted in its spread. At the time.
Remember, we weren’t discussing income and wealth disparities and the terrible economic conditions so many Americans face, until the Occupy Wall Street movement broke onto the scene back in 2011, just five short years ago. Today, this is by far our most discussed issue. But looking at this year’s Presidential election, Democrats seemed to have understood the message of Occupy Wall Street, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders. Sanders’ and Clinton’s proposals address any number of current hot button items like free tuition, raising the minimum wage, more controls on Wall Street, increased taxes on the wealthy and corporations, overturning Citizen’s United, criminal justice reform, to name a few.
What are Trump and the Republicans proposing in the face of the very real economic, social and political issues we are facing today? Bigger tax cuts, silence on student debt, no minimum age increases, reducing government regulations, building a wall, banning Muslims, more Law and Order, - pretty much the very same policies that Republicans and Conservatives have been enacting for thirty years now. In fact, from both Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget proposals “A Better Way” and the Republican Convention Platform, about the only thing new is a beefed up anti-LGBT plank in the Republican Party’s Platform.
Now I ask you, does it look as if “both parties” are dysfunctional, both are ignoring the plight of the American people? If you are in doubt, even Congress’ latest “dysfunctional inaction” over funding the Zika virus effort, isn’t one of both parties neglecting their duties or somehow being so partisan as to put the citizens of America at bodily risk. Despite what you may have read, seen and heard, it was Republicans who inserted a “poison pill” amendment to the funding bill that would have de-funded women’s health clinics – including Planned Parenthood – who provide abortion services. Republicans were very much aware that this would force Democrats to vote against the bill. As they did. This is not an example of a “dysfunctional” Congress, it is an example of one party, the Republican one, willing to risk the health and safety of Americans to score “partisan political points” since now in this year’s election they can say (and we’ve heard it already) that “Democrats Killed The Zika Funding Bill.”
It just ain’t so.
NOTE: Just heard the very common false equivalency (they both do it, they are equally responsible, they are both corrupt) again on the news this morning from right wing radio pundit, Charlie Sykes. Here’s what he said:
“I know there’s a right wing bubble out there – I’m sure there’s one on the left out there too but that’s not my problem - and I’m just trying to tell folks who don’t want to hear anything negative about Trump.”
He was referring to how his listeners simply would not tolerate any criticism of Trump no matter how egregious are his pronouncements. But “Left Wing Bubble?” Where exactly is it? I certainly can’t find it. Is it the Brookings Institution in cooperation with MSNBC? Sykes made this assertion quite casually – as if he were saying the sun will rise tomorrow or some other homily we all know and accept as true – without even pausing for a breath. I’m quite sure that had anyone asked him about his assertion that there is a left wing bubble post-interview, he would probably not even remember the comment it was so casually and unconsciously expressed.
But here’s the relevant question: How many conspiracy theories have the Democrats raised? Can’t think of any? Right. That’s because Republicans, Tea Baggers, right wingers and Trump are the ones who engage in this destructive nonsense.
Oh, wait. There is one. The one that Hillary Clinton declared back in 1998: “There is a vast right wing conspiracy out to get Bill.”
So, my bad. There is one Democrat-sourced conspiracy theory. But then again, she happened to be right, wasn’t she!
Have A Wonderful Day!