Start Me Up

Posted by tobymuresianu on Oct 18, 2013 in Politics, Thoughts |

So the government shutdown is over, and it’s a relief that the two parties were able to finally come together and agree to do it again in three months. Or maybe not. Maybe they have finally learned that there are limits to what unyielding antagonism can accomplish in a democracy. Or maybe not. Sometimes I wonder if Obama’s alarm clock plays “I got you babe” like in Groundhog Day.

So much has been said about the shutdown and I don’t want to beat a dead horse. I’d just like to express two thoughts:

1. The Republican Party should be two parties. They essentially are (how often does part of one party use the name of a different party to describe itself?) as the two wings represent very different sets of values. It would be great if the debt ceiling debacle yielded a split.

As has been widely reported, one core problem Congress has built for itself is that many of the districts are safe – gerrymandered so that one party has a safe majority, and threats to the incumbent come from within their own party in the primary system, causing the extreme wing to have disproportionate influence. But the will to correct gerrymandered districts hasn’t come from the people in power who drew them that way.

If the Tea Party and Republican party were separate, it could make these existing districts competitive again by allowing moderate Republicans to draw votes from either side in a general election, rather than having to draw them only from one side of their party in a primary. This would benefit democracy in these areas and encourage participation amongst voters who aren’t Republican and currently have no real voice in choosing the representatives of their gerrymandered districts.

2. If no split happens, hopefully this is where the Tea Party jumps the shark (Nominations for the moment? Green Eggs and Ham?). I used to feel like I could at least somewhat where they were coming from from a libertarian perspective even if I didn’t agree with them. But they’re so myopic and melodramatic that their actions aren’t even in line with the values they bluster for days about not compromising.

They hate inefficient government and wasteful spending, so they shut the government down and supported continuing to pay the workers. They believe that the will of the people is being abridged, so they address it by having their small minority dictate the agenda for the vast majority of Americans who voted for non-Tea-Party candidates. Even their core belief in free markets is suspect. To borrow a tweet from Josh Barro: “A conservative is someone who believes all markets are efficient except the bond market.” While it’s a stretch to say conservatives, tea partiers vocally advocate a view that deifies markets and vilifies people in government who think they know better than markets. Yet US Government Bonds have been priced by markets as the safest investment you can make, indicating markets themselves don’t see reason to be concerned about government taking on the debt that Tea Partiers obsess over. So it’s fairly ironic that the Tea Party people in government resolve this conflict by deciding they know better than the markets.

Anyway, that’s all for now. Go back to enjoying your national monuments.

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