Two weeks following the consummation of the Fiscal Cliff fiasco, we're already lurching towards the next political carnival.
The nation will soon crash headlong into another debt ceiling. These days, we pass debt ceilings as one might mile markers on a Midwestern interstate. There goes one... another... again... and so on.
Further, on March 1, the billions of dollars in automatic spending cuts, also called sequestration, will automatically take effect. Why? Because Congress couldn't arrive at a compromise in 2011. Nor 2012.
It appears that the age of compromise is dead. Moreover, the two-party political system in the United States is irreparably broken.
What the U.S. has today is less a functioning system than a political duopoly centralizing power with the world's largest two corporations.
Many might posit that ExxonMobil and Apple represent the world's two largest companies. Wrong. The Democrat and Republican parties control larger budgets, balance sheets and employee bases than any two corporations in the world. The U.S. political parties have coalesced into the most formidable symbiotic relationship the world has ever known.
The cold war they wage against each other is the optimal scenario by which long-time party patricians like Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, Harry Reid and Ted Kennedy remain in power - for life.
In the spirit of Cincinnatus, political careers were once short-lived affairs. These were farmers, merchants and frontiersman who, at the behest of contemporaries, took their talents to the nation's capital in order to add whatever value they could for a short period. Then, they returned home.
Today, ambitious, ineffective blowhards assimilate into the party machinery and gain life-time appointments to the nation's capital, where crony politics, lobbyists and insider opportunities make them wealthy.
At the expense of tax payers.
The founders developed a revenue generation system only so that they might turn the articles of confederation into a sovereign nation. These revenues, or transfer payments, were allocated to matters of the public good, defined as services that, if provided to one, must be provided to all. A common defense. Paying off public debt. And the general welfare of the nation, as a whole.
Today's politicians, beginning with Roosevelt's New Deal, eroded such policies. Today's transfer payments are no longer solely for the needs of the nation, but the neediest of the nation. The act of taking from one facet of society and giving to another has been dressed up in the garments of high virtue. Politicians can appeal to their constituents, many of whom happen to be net recipients of these transfer payments, and so remain in office for long-term, if not life-time, appointments.
Suddenly, founding principles like property rights and personal interest are trumped in the interests of the greater good.
In the interest of partisan politics, original thought has been removed from a process which has been boiled down to a formula: Those who believe in A, B and C, vote Republican. Those who believe in X, Y and Z, vote Democrat.
When a third-party occasionally rears its head, both political corporations come together to crush the rogue political party. Because the parties realize that anything appealing to the moderate minded among us denies them the opportunity to slice up the electorate like a pizza and distract us from their inadequacies. They win by appealing to our lowest common denominators, fears, insecurities and dislikes.
Men like Rove and Axelrod are paid millions to force our attention to the far ends of the political spectrum, as opposed to the middle, where we end up having much in common.
When we meet in the middle and put aside party labels, most of us begin to align around the desire for fiscal sanity.
As our budget is ever expanding, and our deficit is ever increasing, our population grows more dependent upon government largess, taken from tax payers, and thrown like confetti over desired swaths of the electorate.
The GOP once believed they could remain in power by meeting the needs of business, Wall Street and the military industrial complex. But, they've been trumped by political opponents who realized that the most effective way to win the hearts of the electorate is to buy them. Once you are the recipient of a government transfer payment, you will always vote for more government.
Hope, however, springs eternal.
I recently read a piece on No Labels, an activist group which believes, as do we, that a "large swath of the electorate remains in the ideological center - neither ardently conservative nor staunchly liberal - that could rally under the flag of a new, principled moderation." That elected officials from both parties could converge around policies that advance such a bipartisan banner. Read the Politico article here.
Upon reading the piece, I grew excited. Reward bipartisanship? Moderate, results-oriented policies? Sign me up!
Alas, another canary destined to perish in the coal mines.
' mission is admirable. It seeks to "change the way our government does business and the way leaders deal with each other." By reforming Congress and the Presidency. Developing new leadership principles. Promoting a new attitude among elected officials.
I too wish to eat pie in the sky.
cannot reform the means by which party leadership deals with each other. To do so, they first have to change the motivations behind the behavioral patterns of politicians. There's nothing wrong with politicians. Human beings have long been flawed. The system is broken. It has been allowed to evolve into a mutation of its former self. One that rewards greed, ambition, paternalism and inefficiency.
Our government was created to play a supporting role in our lives. Today, our government is the star of the show. And its objective is to make the electorate as dependent upon the political system as possible. 312 million little piglets, all suckling at the government teat.
The more we suckle, the more incapable we become. The system endeavors to force everyone's dependence upon the system.
To change the system, we must change the means by which individual agents operate within the system. Bringing politicians and interest groups together in a ballroom in order to discuss the need for partisanship is useless. Another boondoggle -- at the taxpayer's expense.
In December, I wrote about a means of changing the system. Click here to read that piece.
Bottom line? 110 million people voted in November's election. Most voted on the basis of some social issue that, while important, pales in comparison to the fiscal catastrophe towards which Washington D.C. is leading the nation.
There are 80 million tax payers in the United States. My premise? Let's discuss putting some of our partisan social issues aside, at least at the Federal level, if only for a brief time. Let's unite as many taxpayers as possible behind the rallying cry of fiscal sanity.
If we bring together 20 percent of taxpayers, that amounts to 16 million voters, or nearly 15% of those who voted in November. Suddenly, fiscal sanity has a seat at the table.
Only then do we bring politicians into the process.
"Congressman, if you are willing to undertake a few important tasks on our behalf, beginning with the support of a balance budget amendment, then we will elect you. Once in office if you work to pass a balanced budget amendment - you will remain. If you are swallowed up into the party apparatus, supporting those issues that benefit the party as opposed to the people, then you will soon be home, plotting your next move."
Perhaps, that is how rational, like-minded, tax-paying Americans can begin to retake some clout. To take the nation back from special interest groups. To make politicians agents of the people, not their parties.
Perhaps, that is how we can begin to free our children and grandchildren from a lifetime of indentured debt servitude.
Our government ceases to be of service when it becomes the engine behind every crisis.