I want to be excited for all the anti-establishment energy. I really do. Voting for change is great and if change were at hand, I would be breaking out the confetti myself.
But today I am a bit bummed. While I wrote a few weeks ago that all this outrage gives me genuine hope for the future, millennials are about to learn that 2016 is most assuredly not the future. Reality inflicted depression is a sadly common state for a Curmudgeon.
Setting aside for the moment the probable winners and losers coming out of Super Tuesday, the wasted votes become clear when you think not about the vote at hand, but about 2017. Whether you love Billionaire Bloviations or are Feeling the Bern, the hard reality is that after the votes are counted, the winner must govern.
No job was ever more properly described as cat herding than the American Presidency.
The special interests and self-dealing have long ago metastasized in the Congressional organs. That which passes for governance on Capitol Hill was aptly summed up by Senator Bob Dole speaking of his Republican Senate during the Clinton Administration:
Our intent will not be to create gridlock. Oh, except maybe from time to time.
Dole. What a comedian.
Another comedian, David Letterman, was typically droll when he more recently observed:
It was announced that President Obama and his wife, when they’re finished in Washington, are moving to New York City. The guy just can’t get enough gridlock.
As much as newcomers to the political scene want to believe that Mitch McConnell’s declarations regarding Obama Supreme Court nominees was something way out of line, it was but an ordinary manifestation of the altered reality inside the Beltway. This is just the way things work in Two-party Hall and your vote for an anti-establishment President will not change this.
Just ask Jimmy Carter.
We had an interesting conversation over the family dinner table last night about the Bloviating Billionaire. Like all conscious Americans, my son is concerned about what the election of the other outsider as President might mean. I reassured him that America is far too resilient to succumb to even a long run of bad Presidents.
There is plenty of evidence of American resiliency in this regard: The Pentagon Papers, Watergate, the Nixon Pardon, the Iranian Hostage Crisis, the Iran-Contra Affair, Read my lips, no new taxes, Coffee Klatches, the Blue Dress, and of course my personal favorite, Mission Accomplished. And that is only the last half-century’s greatest hits.
We’ve got this.
One person’s resiliency though, is another’s intransigence. Congress was designed to resist change by founders who were concerned that passions should not rule over reason. So while we can survive the Bloviator in Chief or a Congress refusing to feel the revolutionary bern, nothing significant will change other than perhaps the growing voter angst.
It will be a shame if passionate progressives waste their angst chasing the every four year Presidential promise fairy dust. You can have real transformative progress, but that necessarily starts with the real grassroots. Today’s Congresscritters are yesterday’s state legislators and local officials.
This is a tough business. We need young people patiently dedicated to building new parties and reforming old institutions. We need a new focus on holding our elected officials accountable to their words and for their misdeeds. We need to get busy raising expectations at every level of government.
This is a work of decades—not a single Presidential kerfuffle.
If you go to the polls and pull the same levers we have been pulling for over a century, you can go tell somebody other than this Curmudgeon about your demand for change. History informs us of these truths if one is willing to learn. Thus educated, we can know with certainty that voting for Republicans or Democrats is not a progressive act. To think that such a vote is progressive is cute, but delusional.
Better luck next election Millennials.