Do you remember a time when we elected representatives to serve in Congress based upon their ability to get things done? Remember when a President, responding to the ravages brought upon America after the 1929 crash, conceived of and pushed through Congress a plan for long-range economic security for the aged? The plan included government-sponsored social insurance that encompassed unemployment insurance, old-age assistance, aid to dependent children, and grants to states to provide medical care. You may recognize this as what we now know and rely upon as Social Security. Accomplishing such a game-changing plan required all congressional participants to listen to each other, to acknowledge each other’s problems and issues, to find solutions to those issues, and to compromise enough that two parties overwhelmingly supported said legislation. Okay, not many of us remember this time, but a hell of a lot of us are now happily benefitting from it.
How about Eisenhower’s recognition of the need for a national road system, which became our current network of Interstate Highways? Do you think for one minute that this plan was achieved without both Republicans and Democrats working together to make it right?
Perhaps you remember the enormous strides that were taken in the late 60s and early 1970s to clean up our environment, to address inequality, to protect workers, to protect drivers from faulty manufacturing? None of these important achievements happened in a one-party vacuum. They all required consensus, negotiation, and compromise.
In assessing the government’s greatest achievements of the past half century, the Brookings Institute found that “Only nine of the endeavors can be credited primarily to Democratic presidents, and just five can be credited to Republican presidents. The rest span Democratic and Republican administrations.”
But since about 2008, if not earlier, our representatives in Washington, DC have proven to be so pig-headed and determined to not let the “other side win,” that any important achievement within an administration must happen through executive order, which is then reversed when the “other side wins control” so it can dismantle everything the previous administration achieved. Rinse, repeat, ad nauseum.
Steve Scalise, number two leader in the House of Representatives, released this statement: “House Republicans need to be solely focused on taking back the House in 2022 and fighting against Speaker Pelosi and President Biden’s radical socialist agenda . . . .”
To be sure, there is blame on both sides of the aisle. But when the sole purpose is to for one party to win the next election, nothing is getting done. This is no way to run a country.