Thursday, May 10, 2012

Waiting for Realignment

This little screed from Alexandra Petri jokes with a kind of thinking that, I suspect, really is contributing to our political mess:
Received wisdom for some time has stated that there is no point in trying to get anything done in Congress until everyone there agrees with you. That is the premise of numerous superPACs and organizations. Why persuade anyone or try to look at another perspective? No, no — the best thing is to wait until a mystical hand whisks away everyone who doubts your stance on immigration, say, or the national debt.

No one can quite agree on when this point is going to happen, but it had better be soon. Otherwise we will have to shut the government down.

In the meantime, let’s spend a great deal of money and yell at each other. 
John Boehner said a few months ago that the election would settle our tax and budget disputes. I take this to mean that there will be no serious budget negotiations this year, while we wait for November's results. Actually the most likely outcome of this election is another divided government, with Obama winning a second term and Republicans holding at least one house of Congress. What then Mr. Speaker? Two more years of waiting for an election to settle the budget question?

Your big political thinkers, your Karl Roves and the like, are always talking about a "realignment" that will give their party a permanent majority. Republicans are banking on the aging population and ever-increasing distrust of the government, Democrats on our ever-decreasing whiteness.

In a democracy, though, there is no such thing as a permanent majority, and if there were, that would be a bad thing. We need to get on with governing, not wait for some realignment that will probably never happen, and that means comprising with the other powers that be.

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