FPA Today

A Word for Our Nation’s Leaders: Unacceptable

The drama out of Washington is growing stale.

Americans will know later today whether their federal government will shut down — again. Does anyone else find that more than a little embarrassing?

Kazakhstan, Kiribati, and Djibouti managed to pass on-time budgets this year. But not The United States of America, that shining city on a hill.

Put simply, Washington’s inaction is unacceptable, a word our nation’s leaders forgot. We elect them to perform a single task — pass a budget — and yet year after year they can’t, don’t, or won’t do it. We now live in a land of 30-day “continuing resolutions.”

It’s all very complicated, Republicans and Democrats say.

We’re sure it is. Because they made it that way. When a federal bureaucracy grows to a size so unmanageable — so unstainable — there are simply too many interests at stake to run a effective government. The politics becomes more important than the substance. It becomes, yes, complicated.

We have an idea. Shut the government down — other than “essential services” — and then stop right there. We will have identified exactly what Washington needs to be. Then send whatever money is left over back to the states. They’ll figure out how to meet any unattended needs.

Could there be anything less complicated than that?

Something’s Got to Give

It stinks being a Democrat these days, almost as much as it does being a Republican.

That’s not speculation — it’s Gallup, the respected American polling company that pays constant attention to these type of things.

Just before the New Year, Gallup asked us how we politically self identify. Almost half of us (46%) call ourselves independents. Twenty-seven percent (27%) say we’re Democrats, and just a quarter of us (25%) self identify as Republicans.

If Gallup had asked a follow-up: “How much did it hurt answering that question?” it might have discovered a singularly unifying theme: Americans — left, right, and center — are profoundly dissatisfied with their current options. We feel duped.

When you dig deeper into various polling data you’ll find an even more disconcerting dynamic. Many of us still self-identifying with a major party mostly do so because we hate or fear the other one so much. It’s more about what we’re against than what we’re for.

That feels about right to anyone who’s ever spent 30 minutes on Twitter. We’ve become a nation of Hatfields and McCoys. Results are immaterial; it’s all about the fight. Half the time we can’t remember why we’re feuding.

Meanwhile, the crops go unattended and the bills pile up — while the eyes of the nation stay fixed on the fighting.

It’s the last great sleight of hand of America’s major parties.