I don’t know about you, but I sense a scam being run by Congress, especially the GOP freshmen. Because the stakes are so high and the consequences so dire, I am not happy about the situation—at all.
After Barack Obama became president, the after-glow of campaigning and the inauguration yielded to the harsh reality of governing. Hope and change didn’t look the same to folks when compared to filibusters and other aspects of the legislative process. Many fell for the novelty and the idea of candidate Barack Obama, so they didn’t listen carefully to what he said. They thought they had done their part, so they could go back to their apathetic, spectator approach to democracy. Sorry folks, it doesn’t work that way. While moderates and newly-rebranded progressives missed that memo, Republicans and their fringe element, the Tea Party, enjoyed reading their obituaries as they planned their comeback. They began playing economic and political Three-Card Monte as though their lives depended on it. And for a brief moment, it seemed like it did.
Through the Tea Party, Republicans didn’t just avenge the 2008 loss, they conquered the 2010 midterm elections with a promise of job creation. But with the rise of the Tea Party and a Republican majority in Congress, the cards on the table moved faster than ever. It wasn’t about jobs anymore; now it was about the deficit and spending. Or was it? Most Americans were wide-eyed suckers who didn’t even recognize the rigged game. These folks thought they had a fair chance of picking the queen. The candidates who promised to focus on job creation spent time on everything but job creation in the first seven months of the 112th Congress.
The pièce de résistance was the manufactured political crisis that was the debt ceiling debate. Standard & Poor’s, which has yet to explain their abysmal pre-recession actions, correctly expressed concerns about “the effectiveness, stability, and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions.” Since you can’t scam a scam artist, S&P saw what was going on in Congress for what it was—dangerous and destabilizing.
What’s so frustrating is, while the Tea Party kept the cards moving in this devastating game of Three-Card Monte, real suffering is being inflicted. It’s all in a day’s work, with paid vacation and benefits for the very folks running the scam. But next month, the Super Committee created in the 11th hour debt ceiling deal will present its package of $1.5 trillion in cuts and/or revenue. There probably won’t be too many surprises created by this committee. There is no job creation Super Committee in the works, but this committee is recreating work that was recently done by two other groups.
The Three-Card Monte driving partisan desires for power may well keep America mesmerized as we watch the ever-shifting agendas to meet the march to the White House. But we don’t have to be victims of any party’s confidence game. We can, and should, demand that the games stop and their work begin so the rest of America can get working again. Democracy starts with I.