Monday, September 26, 2016

Sweeping Gridlock Under The Rug

As the nation prepares for the most watched television debate ever between Clinton and Trump, the most important governance crisis this country faces is almost never discussed – Congressional gridlock.

Oh yeah, you will hear candidates expounding on how they’re going to work with Congress to get things done. They’re going to “reach across the aisle” and work with the other side – blah, blah, blah – it’s all empty rhetoric.

The issue of Congressional gridlock is front and center, the most important underlying issue this country faces. It is destroying the country’s ability to govern itself, make important decisions and advance the principles of democracy that made this country great and the shinning star on the world stage.

Yet, despite its importance, the basic issue and serious proposals for reform rarely get the appropriate public exposure, debate and attention it deserves. It demands Presidential leadership and should be at the top of the agenda for the Presidential debate.

The publics’ frustration with government’s dysfunction is highlighted consistently with nearly two-thirds in recent years, silently screaming the country is on the wrong track. But, they are also focusing their frustration like a laser beam on Congress – not the President and specifically not President Obama.

The latest and recent Presidential approval ratings show President Obama at between 50-54 percent. Congressional approval, on the other hand is between 9-12 percent – H-E-L-L-O! – screaming dissatisfaction with the way Congress is addressing its Constitutional responsibilities. (RealClearPolitics latest and recent polling)

In tonight’s Presidential debate, wouldn’t you like to hear each candidate provide some specifics (underline specifics) on how they will address the most important, underlying issue in U.S. politics today? GO LESTER HOLT!

FOLLOW UP: Well, the subject of good government, broken government, Congressional gridlock, etc. did not come up in Monday night’s debate watched by over 80 million viewers (transcript). But, it sure would have been interesting to hear the responses. Maybe next time. How about this question for example:

MODERATOR: This question is for both of you. As you know, the overall Congressional approval rating hovers at around 10%, yet President Obama’s approval rating is over 50%. How do you explain this phenomenon? And, as President, how would you use the bully pulpit to educate the American public about Congressional gridlock and what do you plan to do or propose to make Congress more functional?

Saturday, September 3, 2016

An Inside Look At The Politics of Congressional Gridlock

If you’re looking for an excellent example and an inside look at how political gridlock works to stifle action on critical issues, you need to read this well written account by Lindsay Wise with McClatchy news service:

This is why only 14% of registered voters approve of the job Congress is doing; 78% disapprove; and 9% are unsure. [Monmouth U. RV poll 8/4/16.] 

This is the reason "Right Track - Wrong Track" polling results continually indicate widespread belief that the country is on the wrong track, in spite of the fact that President Obama’s approval ratings continue to rank over 50% -- which is always a milestone for any President.

Congressional reformers should look closely at this article and dissect it at each junction in the process to develop proposals for change. A major focus should be on the ability of legislators to add unrelated amendments and riders to legislation designed to address a specific issues. [See my post: Unrelated Amendments & Riders – Tricks of the Political Trade]

Unfortunately, these political shenanigans continue each day Congress is in session and are designed to frustrate constructive action on major issues. They further divide and polarize the legislature and the general public as the “blame game” plays out with 24/7 media coverage & news bites, tweets & blog posts, editorials & op-eds and general Internet chatter.

The source of overall public discontent with “government” seems clear – the solutions are not. Interesting, the current Presidential campaigns seem to be missing an important opportunity to address strategies and specific solutions to address the current state of governmental dysfunction.