Given that legislation almost always restricts freedoms, costs taxpayers or involves intrusion into the affairs of other countries, a non-functional legislature is not necessarily a bad thing, indeed, for the more libertarian among us, it is an absolute positive.
During last year’s United States federal elections I provided a few interviews and even more background briefings to Latin American media and academic sources sharing my somewhat contrarian interpretation of United States politics. I expressed my conviction that although the United States Congress was politically comprised of members from two major parties (and a couple of independents pledged to the Democratic Party), its real voting composition was different and that in reality, the electoral results did not create a monolithic, Republican controlled government. Events have borne me out.
As I see it, the current Congress is divided into at least five major voting blocs: a very small and utterly ignored group of progressives in the Democratic Party (a group whose views probably mirror those of the majority of the electorate but that needs to bolt if it is ever to become effective); a large Clinton – Obama component in the Democratic Party that actually comprises the Congress’s largest bloc in the Senate; and three Republican Party blocs, a theocratic – conservative bloc, a tea party – libertarian bloc and a traditionalist politics-as-usual bloc that frequently aligns with Clinton – Obama Democrats (think John McCain). The result is that little can be accomplished in the way of change and the only areas of widespread multi-bloc collaboration involve terribly destructive neoconservative matters involving foreign intervention and related massive military expenditures. The foregoing has been confirmed and well-illustrated by the GOP’s legislative ineptitude to date, not a bad thing. The bad thing has involved rabid anti-Russian “Joe McCarthyite” bipartisanship.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, the major parties are each united internally in the quest for political power which they will do virtually anything to obtain and retain, especially the Democratic Party which sold its liberal soul for cold hard cash during the nineteen nineties at the behest of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Public welfare and even the survival of the human race are of little relevance where that quest is concerned. Had the Democrats won under the leadership of the two-for-one inverse order this time Clintons, things would probably have been really terrible given that instead of mainstream media obstruction they would have enjoyed absolute mainstream media collaboration obfuscating the corruption and corporate sellout that characterizes them. In contrast, the GOP victories pose nary a threat given its Keystone Cops dynamics as its three halves (irony intended) struggle for control, bound in contesting ideological chains supplemented by John McCain’s wrenches, always on hand to assure nothing planned will be accomplished. Not only is the GOP unable to govern, but in the Senate, it is my position that it is not even a real majority. Indeed, in my conversations with Latin American sources referred to above during the 2016 elections, I indicated that rather than a fifty-two to forty eight GOP majority, I perceived a fifty-fifty tie at worst, with McCain and his boy pal Lindsey Graham really being more a part of the Democratic blocs, and at best, a fifty two to forty eight Democratic Party de facto majority when one factors in the real proclivities of Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski.
So, chaos in the District of Columbia has so far been entertaining but inconsequential on a long term basis, indeed, perhaps even positive in highlighting important issues which neither major party supports, e.g., single payer health care (which in a recent Senate vote failed to receive a single supporting vote), environmental matters, etc., but which are used as wedges with which to hammer each other on their collective heads. The troubling thing has involved the few areas, all terribly negative, where bipartisan collaboration has been attained (e.g., the hyperbolically anti-Russia mania, increased military spending, foreign intervention, etc.).
Unfortunately, notwithstanding entertainment value, the public has been left without any viable champions (although Tulsi Gabbard lurks in the wings with the likes of Dennis Kucinich and Jim Webb, as yet uncorrupted). The mainstream media, foreseen by the Founding Fathers (when they eventually got around to it) through the First Amendment to the Constitution as essential for the guarantee of enlightened governance, has turned out somewhat differently than the boni expected, although quite in line with what the more cynical among our founders hoped for (think Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, hopefully still calumniating each other in Hell). It has been bought and paid for and has found a constituency that does not include its all too gullible public. As has all too frequently been the case (think Pulitzer and Hearst, probably both in cells or suites adjacent to those of Hamilton and Jefferson), “truth”, to our mainstream media and its hard drinking, hard partying members (now richly rewarded) is a mere inconvenience casually discarded in favor of the joys of creative writing. Rather than a player in the political arena, the mainstream media has become a tool of the unholy alliance between neoliberal and neoconservative forces, all too frequently involving the same persons and institutions which apparently love the sound of fiddles while things burn. And money to burn they have, frugally shared among their slavering puppets. Ethics today in the United States political system, both among the two major parties and among the mainstream media, is focused on being true to they who bought them, kleptocracy rather than democracy being the operative norm.
Given the foregoing one might think that our corporate masters, the kings and queens of neoliberalism and the armchair warrior dukes and counts of neo-conservatism (all of whom would collectively fit in a small middle class home) would be well pleased. However, there is a wild card, a very, very wild card, like a savage somewhat gorged lion striking out in all directions recognizing no master but himself, chaos embodied who somehow managed to break through the carefully crafted political barriers erected and maintained to assure econo-political stability, but only because a small side door was left open to allow a fellow traveler to slip in. Still, with virtually all formal political forces arrayed against him like a horde of well-armed tamers, his threat to the “establishment” is more psychological than real and the theater provided by his antics and roars and the reactions of the throngs determined to tame him at least provide mostly harmless entertainment.
Unless of course, anyone is interested in peace or in the common welfare, or in justice and equity, or the survival of the human race. Unfortunately, attention to those matters would require us to wake, think and act on our own, to eliminate our current puppet masters and to learn to act on our own, holding those in whom we place our trust accountable. But then, that might leave too little time for our video games and novels, our reality TV shows and soap operas, our condo-commando fixations with our neighbors’ affairs. All those things we so love and which give our lives meaning.
Oh well, c’est la vie, … for as long as it lasts.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2017; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.
Guillermo Calvo Mahé is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia although he has primarily lived in the United States of America (of which he is a citizen). Until recently he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.