“There’s battle lines being drawn…nobody’s right, when everybody’s wrong.”—Stephen Stills
The ridiculously silly passion play in Washington, that consumed this nation and inspired others to wonder if we had lost our collective minds (pretty much), is nothing more or less than the inevitable result of the strident mindlessness partisanship that now is the alpha and omega of all things political in this land.
Shutting down the government is like running—neither is a plan; both are what you do when you don’t have a plan.
The Democrats call it a “Trump Shutdown” and think they are winning.
The Republicans call it a (Chuck) “Schumer Shutdown” and think they are winning.
They are both fooling themselves.
They are both but whistling past their political graveyards and playing Russian roulette with their political futures, gambling on the chance whims of a fickle public.
If it must have a name, we’d do better to call it a Gordon Lightfoot shutdown, as a lyric of his cuts through all the wishful thinking to the truth: “Sometimes, I think it’s a sin when I feel like I’m winning and I’m losing again…”
There is absolutely no sense in this. None.
Try as both sides might, there is no high ground to be claimed.
The President looks like a vacillating idiot, totally without conviction and subject to agreement solely with the last whisper in his ear. The leaders of both parties in both houses of Congress look both foolish and impotent, capable only of pointing fingers, one at another and members of the media resemble most a flock of geese flitting quite aimlessly back and forth among them all, breathlessly “reporting” the latest hyperbolic utterances, which add nothing to the debate and only degrade any hope of its regaining civility.
At its essence, this was neither ideological purity nor conviction. Beneath the trappings and hollow rhetoric, this was merely a production staged for the respective warring factions, the hardliner bases of both parties, which truth told, abjectly terrify the bit-player pols they elect with the threat of the newest contrived political verb—being “primaried,” for not being liberal or conservative or perhaps just bombastic enough.
The Senate Democratic leader Schumer and the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (who really does increasingly manifest Jon Stewart’s turtle impression) each took to the floor to brazenly, if not convincingly, lay the totality of blame at the feet of the other party, selectively omitting the culpabilities of their own. To anyone knowing better, it was a spectacle as sickening as it was predictable.
And, of course, hypocrisy reigned.
The Republicans who politick far better than they govern (which may be the most lasting truth of this sad little episode), were quick to seize upon a winning spin for the average Joe, suggesting the Democrats cared more about “illegal aliens” than paying and equipping our soldiers. Of course, any righteousness of that postulate was rather quickly diluted when McConnell refused to allow a vote on a Democratic senator’s amendment to pay and equip the military throughout the duration of any shutdown.
Note to Mitch: You can’t decry the inequity of something and then torpedo its remedy, oh, great loggerheaded one.
And to be fair, anything that Schumer might have to say, regardless of any validity it might have, just comes across as, well, smarmy. I don’t think he can help it—it’s a New York thing.
And, of course, anybody who knows much at all about politics knew that this latest failure of government wouldn’t last too long because neither side actually either wanted it or to be blamed for it, since the public just rightfully hates such nonsense.
That’s why the few remaining moderates (read common sensical public servants) in the Senate were huddled together as their brethren tossed grenades, seeking some compromise escape from the knot they’d all tied that would allow both sides to save face with the rabid critters in their respective bases. It didn’t have to actually accomplish anything, just sound good in not doing so. (As my dear old granddaddy said, in politics, the facts don’t matter; what matters is the names you can manage to impose upon the facts.)
And so, not in Shakespearean grandeur, but rather more appropriately in the all the grace of a Soupy Sales routine, the great government shutdown of 2017 ended not with a bang, but a whimper—one which on the anniversary of Donald Trump’s first year in office may well end up being viewed as metaphor for those to follow.
We’ve elected ourselves a slew of engineers who promised to make the trains run on time, but this sure ain’t no way to run a railroad.
Ray Mosby is editor and publisher of the Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork.