Many of us still remember the old 7-Up ad campaign featuring a gentleman named Geoffrey Holder. Mr. Holder, using his smooth voice, Caribbean accent and infectious laugh proudly held in hand the "Un-Cola" nuts that gave 7-Up its "crisp and clean and no caffeine" taste. Of course the Un-Cola nuts were actually lemons and limes instead of the Kola Nut used in cola drinks like Coke and Pepsi. His stage presence made this a memorable contrast with 7-Up's competitors.
In the last election came a new huckster with a similar pitch. "Elect me", said Donald Trump, "and I will change Washington, drain the swamp, and revitalize the country." At first, many people thought he could be a plain-talking man whose business experience might make government "fresh and clean" like 7-Up. Instead of making things better, Trump has created the "Un-government" His techniques include writing a tax bill in a few weeks without input from the public or the opposing party. Since Mitch McConnell knew the tax bill would never pass the Senate with 60 votes, he just changed the rule to allow its passage with a simple majority.
Why do we allow our Representatives, who have sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution, to paralyze our entire government by idly sitting by as our problems mount? This is nothing new as it has been years since things ran smoothly. In the seven years since the ACA was passed, the Republicans have never offered a comprehensive health care plan. When they found themselves with the Oval Office and the Presidency, they could offer nothing, so a mad scramble ensued so that they could vote on something - seven long years of nothing...
Not to be outdone, the Democrats, seeing that the ACA was in danger of repeal, started allowing for the fact that many improvements could be made. "We can fix this, no need to start over," they said. Yet since its passge, what legislation has been offered to correct or improve problems with the ACA? Some answer: none. Seven years of Democratic Party inattention and inaction. Our Un-Government at work.
The New Feudal System
Little by little the rights of our citizens are being eroded by the elected officials. As in the Middle Ages, at the top of the power pyramid sits King Donald I. Serving His Majesty are his nobles, Ryan and McConnell supported by their vassals, our Congress and Senate. Kingless and under siege are rebellious nobles Pelosi and Schumer. With a smaller band of vassals. This group has little influence on the King and must bide their time to regain power. Sadly, we the people have been relegated to the lowly status of peasants.
Mitch McConnell, as did his predecessor Harry Reid, stymies the rights of all Democrats with his iron rule of the Senate agenda. There is a clear fixation with destroying Obama while simultaneously denying representation to half the country.
Then we have Paul Ryan as a false noble who has no control over many of his vassals such as the Freedom Caucus. With Pelosi and Schumer rendered powerless, we have transitioned from governance to rule.
The Hastert Rule
Here are a few questions for Speaker Ryan. Where in the Constitution does it mention the "Hastert Rule"? Why is it that we have to have agreement from the majority of the majority to vote on a bill that would pass with Freedom Caucus support? Why do we tolerate such a terrible power grab by one caucus? How is that leadership? Does Paul Ryan so want to remain Speaker that he places his own interests above those of our 300+ million citizens? Should 10% of the House of Representatives really be allowed to run the whole show?
The Democrats have at the helm, two nobles whose time has passed. Why does their party keep on electing them to these leadership positions? Nancy Pelosi looked frail and foolish making her "doggie doo" comments during the recent shutdown. Chuck Schumer hasn't shown any true leadership or innovative thinking in years.The world and therefore our nation are changing and the Democrats are hopelessly out of touch. Does the expression, "out with the old, in with the new", sound familiar? We need leaders who can not only "fire up the base", but also the 45% or more of voters who sit out elections in disgust. People want issues solved not perpetuated for use as political hammers.
In the movie, "Twister", as they are about to be hit by debris from the tornado they are chasing, the driver of the truck expresses his reservations about their course. Jonas Miller, played by Cary Elwes, turns to his driver and says, "When I want your opinion, I'll give it to you!" So it goes now with newer members of Congress. Isn't it odd that nearly every vote is decided along party lines? Are there really no moderate, independent thinkers among junior members? The nobles really run everything with the vassals maintaining the illusion of your representatives at work. Why do we need all of those representatives if they can't buck the prearranged agenda?
It must be very frustrating to be a junior member of either Chamber and find yourself under the thumb of your leadership. With their votes decided for them, what exactly do our Representatives do all day between symbolic votes and recesses? Many come from gerrymandered districts where hard campaigning is unnecessary.
John Kasich offers some hope for the future. If we stay on our present path for the next three years, we will continue the gridlock of the last decade. On CBS This Morning, Governor Kasich said of the DACA kids: "Congress has six months, it should take six hours to get this done, and the way I think they need to do it, they need reasonable Republicans and Democrats from the middle and build a solution to this." These are indeed beautiful words.
Middle and reasonable are ideals cast aside by the extremists of both parties. These elements have grabbed too much power and it is "We the People" who have to correct this imbalance. As the present backlash against Obama plays out, the coming retribution from Democrats in the future will make things worse. The pendulum is always swinging. We must start by learning all we can about issues that face us and shoot for full participation in our privilege of voting. We have the power to right the ship of state and keep it steady. Centrist, reasonableness, and respect will take us to new levels.