I know; I know: One more story on this guy is too many.
Between him, and Trump stumping for him, and the Senate arguing over whether or not to confirm him, and partisan political action committees spending tons of money on attack ads about him, and everyone with a microphone weighing in on the subject in one direction or another, we’re sick to death of hearing the man’s name. And quite right, too; there’s no news here.
For one thing, every aspect of him and his positions has been covered in interview after hearing after video advertisement, and there’s no way to know which is real and which is fake, not when it’s politically heated. Democrats will lie; Republicans will lie; even the nominee will lie.
For another thing, every argument for and against, and for and against opposition, has already been exhaustively chewed over in the news and by Senators eager for television exposure. Heck, even I did a piece on the process a month ago, comparing and contrasting him with the previous nominee, Merrick Garland. There is nothing new to say, nothing you don’t know already.
We even already know what’s going to happen. The whole world knew a week and a half ago, when the procedural delays were announced; the politically savvy knew a month ago, and the true insiders knew before the Inauguration and could probably have picked the exact date of his confirmation on a calendar. Yes, he’s going to be confirmed; that’s never been in doubt except by the credulous. It’ll take a rules change, but he’ll be confirmed.
(NOTE: If you doubted that, it means you’re credulous. Another word for it is gullible. You probably give to fake charities, overpay your taxes, buy “Identity Protection”, and contribute to PACs that do nothing but sling mud at other PACs. There’s no shame in it; it means you’ve got a good heart. Besides, con men need to make a living too.)
So if the man’s confirmation is inevitable, why bother to oppose it? Why hold this filibuster that the Senate Democrats seem so proud of achieving if it’s guaranteed to fail? Why not just let the vote go through and get back to the job that government is supposed to be doing — governing?
Well, it turns out, the people we elect aren’t there to govern. They’re in Washington to get re-elected.
I’m not picking on Democrats alone here. The Senate Republicans pulled the same thing a year ago, when they refused even to consider a new Supreme Court Justice during election season. (Never mind that there’s some precedent; eight months is too damned long to delay over politics.) And before that, the House Republicans successfully obstructed the Obama Administration for six of his eight years in office. Now it’s the Democrats’ turn to obstruct, and they’re doing it in the same style: endless procedural wrangling, choking committees, and the dreaded filibuster.
And why do they do this? Well, it does accomplish one thing; it fills up the complete schedule of the Senate, so there’s nothing whatsoever that august body can possibly do aside from participate in meaningless sessions of delaying tactics until the clock runs down and finally, after a solid month of not debating anything, a pro forma vote gets passed and the man is confirmed.
Which means the next spending authorization, due at the end of April, might get delayed. And that would put the Federal Government in default, which will make our elected representatives all look pretty foolish. Oh, nobody really wants that; it’s so hard to spin it so the Other Party takes all the blame. But it’ll get threatened all to hell, and maybe Wall Street will downgrade us again, and wouldn’t that be fun?
Meanwhile, there are real problems out there, and nothing’s getting done. There’s a drug war in Mexico, Russia is gaining a dominant foothold in the Middle East, the real estate market is shaky, half our aircraft carriers can’t afford to go to sea because the planes keep breaking down, and Venezuela is about to implode just south of us, taking a huge chunk of next winter’s heating oil with them. Oh, and did I mention that we imprison more of our own population than any other industrialized nation? Literacy is decreasing, and most of the world has better happiness numbers and longer life expectancy.
Government exists for one simple reason: Life with it is supposed to be better than life without. The job of government is to help us — whether by acting or by getting the hell out of the way, whichever is appropriate at the time.
Right now, our elected government is doing neither. For eight years before now, it also did neither. For six of the eight years before that, it likewise sat still and did nothing. The few things that did get passed — the Patriot Act, Dodd-Frank, the Affordable Care Act, several authorizations to go to war in foreign countries you and I will never see — are hated, ineffective, or half-measures. The last year under Obama was spent passing empty laws and creating impractical rules, most of which will get repealed during the first months under Trump — and, for the most part, existed in the first place for no other reasons than to fill time and win political points.
And why? Because that’s what the parties asked their politicians to do, because that’s what their pollsters and strategists said we wanted. Yes, that’s right; it’s on us — nobody’s fault but our own, because the average American voter is, by and large, ignorant, apathetic, and/or credulous. Let’s even assume you aren’t — you read this far, which means something. But I’m guessing you voted the Party Line, just like most people did. You sure didn’t stand for office against any of these clowns, did you?
But I may be asking too much of you with that last bit. After all, it’s a big country; no doubt there’s someone else competent to run it out there. And I’m sure our best and brightest don’t want to make millions in industry or on Wall Street, but would rather give up fortunes, step up, and serve their country in its most thankless profession — if they can convince a few million WalMart customers to vote for them, that is. So, fine; I’ll make this easier for you.
Just get this thought through your head, this one thing and I’ll leave you alone with it for today: It’s not Us Versus Them, where Us is one party or the other. It’s Them For Themselves, where Them is both parties and nobody gives a crap what the country needs.