A week ago I was feeling better about the upcoming election. Recently, though, I had an intuitive flash that got me politically down in the dumps again. Here's the thought process that ran through my mind:
In 2006 and 2008 the Democrats made big gains in Congress. And, of course, Obama became president.
But Washington remained dysfunctional. Gridlock and excessive compromising left every major policy area -- jobs, financial reform, health care, energy policy, immigration -- a shadow of the bright light that should have been cast upon our country.
So now the citizenry is pissed. They're angry at the party in power, the Democrats. So the "D" side of the aisle will be depopulated quite a bit after November 2 in both the House and Senate.
Likely the House will end up being controlled by Republicans, while the Senate and presidency remain in Democratic hands. Net result: more gridlock. Our nation's problems will continue to fester, while the rest of the world marches on more productively.
Come 2012, voters will still be angry since nothing much will have been accomplished. It's a tossup as to which party they'll be angrier at.
Maybe Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell's excessively honest recent statement, "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president," will come back and bite the Republicans in their political butt.
After all, it's almost treasonous for McConnell to declare that afer the election Republicans don't want to make the country better, but to make Obama's approval rating worse.
However, the Democrats might find that the burden of a do-nothing Congress is on their political backs. This could lead to an even greater Republican surge in 2012, whereas my first scenario has the Democrats bouncing back in a presidential election year, when Obama will win his second term.
Regardless, what I see happening -- sadly -- is that whichever party is saddled with the perception of being in power will bear the brunt of voter anger at the inability of Congress to deal with pressing national problems.
The plain fact is that Congress is broken, especially the Senate. When one idiot Senator can hold legislation up through arcane Senate rules, and a few idiot Senators can really hold legislation up via a filibuster, it is almost guaranteed that nothing much of vital importance will be passed the next few years.
And likely, even after that.
So we'll continue to bounce back and forth between one party, then the other, getting hammered at the polls. The reason won't be that most Americans have shifted their political allegiance. They've simply aimed their anger at our country's problems remaining unresolved at a different target.
What depresses me about this prediction is that little learning about what policies work better will ever take place.
For example, we won't know whether a universal single payer health plan would bring costs down and improve citizens' wellbeing, or whether unfettered insurance company competition would, because neither policy will be attempted. We'll continue to have a half-assed health insurance system that manages to combine the worst of both worlds, since if gridlock doesn't rule Congress, special interest compromising will.
Even more disturbing to me is the prospect (better termed certainty) of Congress failing to act on significant energy and climate change legislation.
I peruse the Climate Progress web site regularly. Recent posts have documented the dismal scientific understanding of almost all Republicans. Or at least, their unwillingness to put the health of our nation (along with the world) above petty politics.