August 1, 2011

The D.C. Deal Dance


Do you know how things are done in Washington D.C.? I suspect that you have an inkling but I doubt that you know just how bad it is. The truth is that most of what you see is nothing more than political theatre. The intent of our legislative system is that bills would be offered, then debated openly on the respective floors, strengthened by amendment and then voted on. It is all meant to be a very open and honest process which allows for free thinking individuals to have the opportunity to create coalitions simply by the force of their ideas. This has not happened in the U.S. Congress for many, many years. The truth is that the leadership of both parties meet behind closed doors way ahead of any serious debate. They lay out both their legislative agenda AND, more importantly to them, their political concerns. Deals are made and the process is laid out, including to what extent each side will engage in political propaganda. One side may demand that at some point they will have to come out and call the other side the devil. This is understood and agreed to, knowing that the base agreement will not change. It is understood that certain members from certain districts will have to be allowed to vociferously argue against the bill, but this is all theatre and the votes are already whipped and they all know the outcome. Both sides eventually appear to ‘cave’ on certain demands that each already knew would never be met. The original agreement, which was already worked out before the ‘show’ began, then magically appears as the ‘compromise’ that the party leadership has been working tirelessly on for the American people. The bills are written by staff and sometimes even by outside interest groups. Previously agreed to ‘amendments’ are offered to sustain the illusion of debate. Legislators seldom read the whole bill. Debate on the floor is had, but no one is paying attention. Every vote is already locked in. No floor debate has changed more than a minor handful of inconsequential votes in either House of Congress in decades. These floor debates are simply talking points for the Cspan viewership, many times just providing political cover for selected members. Some of the truly reasonable members are allowed to offer bills that actually address the problem, but no vote is scheduled and no debate is had. It is simply a bone to quiet them down. Certain members and outside media groups on both sides will begin to rant about how terrible is this bill. This is the coup de grace for dissention because 'everyone' knows that true compromise means no one is really happy. Then the final vote is tallied and the credits on the show begin to roll. The media freely cooperate with the subsequent self-aggrandizement of how the American people have once again won a victory for compromise and reasonable government. The leadership and handpicked members then line up for the photo-ops and news conferences where they each assure their constituencies how hard they fought some of the more 'radical' elements of the original legislation to much fanfare. Finally, the fund raising letters for both sides go out. “We barely stopped this attack on your Liberty/Medicare (or whatever issue du jour works). We need your donation to continue to fight the good fight in your name. We came so close to losing here, we need your support.” And the Band played on…

That, my friends, is exactly what you have just witnessed in the so called debate on the Debt Ceiling hike. As usual with this type of faux debate the real losers are the taxpayers of America. You have been duped once again. How does it feel? If you are not sick to your stomach, you aren’t paying close enough attention. Hundreds of GOP candidates must be primaried in 2012 to have any hope at all to change this game. We are in a generational fight for the soul of this nation. Until we change enough members so this type of Kabuki dance politics ceases we will continue down the road to moral and fiscal ruin. Dust off your Tea Party signs; change the word ‘Dems’ to ‘RINO’s’ and let’s clean out this rats nest again in the next election.

by: Keith D. Rodebush

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