Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Response to Dead Stop

(See: Just Above Sunset: Dead Stop)

Once again, Republicans are trying to shut down the government. They're always looking for ways of doing that, with it usually backfiring on them, although owing to possible "Republican Bullshit Fatigue" (RBF) among the public, maybe this time they'll get away with it.

The most on-point point made in the column today was in the last paragraph:
This had to get much worse ... because of the inherently unstable nature of our system, where vague “norms” held things together, not the structure of government itself. Norms change. It all falls apart. The Constitution is of no help at all.
Nobody talks much anymore about those extra-constitutional, bi-partisan "norms" that those with seniority -- the old guard that's been around long enough to know -- would pass on to the congressional newcomers, the norms that used to keep the government chugging along, such as, "We need to let the president nominate someone of his own school of thought, because later, when it's our turn, they'll afford our president the same courtesy." What went without saying was that, if we don't, then this rickety government that our school kids are taught is venerable and unassailable, loses all the glue that holds it together.

When all those norms are no longer passed on, the whole machine grinds to a halt. But isn't that what the Republicans have been threatening to do all along?
Scalia died. The whole thing comes to a dead stop. Now what?
"Now what?" Ask that late Spanish political scientist Juan Linz, who in his essay, The Perils of Presidentialism back in 1990, made the point that a nation's survival is not all about a constitution:
In the final analysis, all regimes, however wisely designed, must depend for their preservation upon the support of society at large -- its major forces, groups, and institutions. They rely, therefore, on a public consensus which recognizes as legitimate authority only that power which is acquired through lawful and democratic means. They depend also on the ability of their leaders to govern, to inspire trust, to respect the limits of their power, and to reach an adequate degree of consensus. 
Although these qualities are most needed in a presidential system, it is precisely there that they are most difficult to achieve. Heavy reliance on the personal qualities of a political leader -- on the virtue of a statesman, if you will -- is a risky course, for one never knows if such a man can be found to fill the presidential office.
With Mitch McConnell having persuaded every member of his Judiciary Committee to pledge in writing that the Constitution will be ignored if the president attempts to do what it instructs him to do, McConnell may be herding the nation's angry malcontents -- particularly those who have more faith in the dubiously vague promises of Donald Trump than in a two-hundred-twenty-seven year old working political system that they feel has given them nothing worth preserving -- into a governance crisis in which, as Alan notes, the Constitution will be of no help at all.

First, the Republicans refuse to confirm a Democratic presidential nominee, then the Democrats refuse to confirm a Republican's, and soon, we have no working Supreme Court, and because the Constitution says nothing about how to fix that, we are left with just two branches, neither of which will work with the other. 

So then what? Without a working government to prevent it, maybe we just fight each other?

Maybe it's time our side started seriously reconsidering learning how to shoot guns.

No comments:

Post a Comment

(No trolls, please! As a rule of thumb, don't get any nastier in your comments than I do in my posts. Thanks.)