August 21, 2011

The future for America's broken government

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at August 21, 2011 5:47 PM

Longtime readers will recall that this used to be primarily a political blog. Eventually, though, I fell victim to outrage fatigue and turned to other subjects. These days we have a different administration, but one reason I've been escaping into pop culture (for the first few posts since I started updating again) has been that my reaction to the current political situation can only be properly expressed by this Uncyclopedia page.

I'm very, very pessimistic about the political outlook for the next few years. The traditional norms that allowed Congress to function in the past have totally broken down: the Senate now requires a 60-vote supermajority for anything due to routine use of the filibuster, and as we've recently seen the Republican congress is willing to put a gun to the head of the national economy by demanding concessions before raising the debt ceiling.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is willing to use its executive authority to launch a new war in Libya, but not to unilaterally take action on the economy. Since the only stimulus the Republicans will accept is more tax cuts for the rich, we can expect that unemployment will continue to remain sky-high through 2012.

Then, Obama will lose re-election to whomever the Republicans nominate. It might be Rick Perry or Michelle Bachmann. If we're lucky (!) we'll get Mitt Romney, who might be unprincipled but at least appears to be sane. The economy is by far the strongest predictor of presidential election results, and with unemployment as high as it is, the independent voters will go for the Republicans in droves. A very harmful political dynamic has taken hold whereby a minority can wholly obstruct the legislative agenda in the Senate, use this to prevent any measures that might help the economy, and take advantage of anti-incumbent sentiment to regain the majority.

So, basically, we're doomed. At the very least the next Congress needs to change the rules of the Senate to eliminate the filibuster. It could be one upside of a Republican Senate: it would not be out of character for them to remove the obstructionist tools they relied on when they were in the minority. Maybe they'd get rid of the debt ceiling as well once they were the ones spending (or more likely, cutting taxes). It would result in a lot of policies I don't like, but in the long run getting rid of both of those things would be good for the country.

If I had the power to rewrite the Constitution I'd get rid of the Senate entirely, and maybe just institute a parliamentary system, but obviously neither of those things are going to happen. Instead I'll just watch old episodes of The West Wing and imagine what it would be like to have a functional government.

Tags: Apocalypse, Democrats, Politics, Republicans, Senate
Comments

The UK government is parliamentary but also broken. :)

As far as I can tell, the US empire seems to be getting deeper into its decline phase, so maybe we should just who the next big power is going to be?

Sorry for the pessimism, but frankly I've pretty much given up on the US.

Posted by: Mason Porter | August 21, 2011 6:58 PM

On a related note, there is a new variant of the "Small World" game out. :)

Posted by: Mason Porter | August 21, 2011 7:01 PM

Sadly, I can't fault what you're saying about the GOP. If they behave anything like they did when W was president, we're going to keep going down this road. So far, we have been behaving like an empire and we are in decline. The only solution as I see it is to massively reduce the size and scope of the federal government and reduce our military until it defends our shores and that's it. However, this would cause a lot of short-term pain, and no politician apart from Ron Paul would be willing to do that, so yep, we're pretty much screwed.

Posted by: Chris Langland | August 22, 2011 8:28 AM

>> this used to be primarily a political blog

Do you think working on Wall St. has changed your views in any way?

Posted by: wolfgang | September 5, 2011 9:58 AM

I'm sure it has changed my views in some subtle ways but it's not obvious to me at the moment what they are. Maybe if I go back through my old posts I'll see where I disagree with my past self. :) I think I have a slightly better understanding of economic policy than I did before, but I still find myself agreeing with the Krugman/DeLong style neo-Keynsian arguments. (I'm encountering a lot more people than I used to who support hard money and austerity policies, but I don't find them convincing.) And although my tax status has changed I still think we should allow the Bush tax cuts to expire, uncap the payroll tax, and impose a carbon tax. (That last one probably affects me less since I've sold my car and moved to Manhattan.)

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | September 5, 2011 2:21 PM

sit back and enjoy the ride it going to be a rough one... I wish i knew a fix aside from outlawing the republican party in its current incarnation

Posted by: shellock | September 12, 2011 1:50 PM
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