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Congress needs to share the blame

Republicans and Democrats have both failed America

U.S. Capitol | CREDIT: Larry Lease

U.S. Capitol | CREDIT: Larry Lease

In another effort to combat American skepticism over the economy and health care reform, Organizing for Action, a pro-Obama community organization, has released yet another series of ads to highlight the President’s progress and forthcoming agenda. Unfortunately, instead of seeing the young, charismatic trailblazer who inspired the country (and the world) in 2008, we see President Obama seemingly in shackles, reduced to repeating the same forthcoming agenda to anyone who still bothers to give a damn.
This evolution, or rather, devolution of Obama’s presidency is no doubt a victory for congressional Republicans, who have remained consistently intransigent and uncooperative since their takeover in 2010. Their abuse of the filibuster and inability to make simple concessions has not only brought the government to a grinding and agonizing standstill, but left many Americans disenchanted with the democratic process in general.
Republicans are hopeful that this overall resentment of Washington will spill over to Obama’s shed too-as evidenced by a recent Time Magazine poll that showed a staggering 58 percent of Americans still believing the country is headed in the wrong direction. The ornery Tea Party, and its constant primary threat of establishment Republicans, may likely be the cause of this waywardness, but it is the President, the elected leader of the country, who is inevitably roped in as part of the problem too.
Therein lies the oft-cited false equivalency, the notion that both parties are equally at fault for the government’s dysfunction. Media centrists dwell on this regularly, indexing their scathing critiques with remarks like “this goes for both sides” or “there’s enough blame to go around.” Indeed, Democrats and the President surely hold their share of responsibility for the country’s woes, but to equate the sheer radicalism of today’s Republicans with the Democrats is an extremely shortsighted and lazy observation, especially when one party is so determined to illuminate the dysfunction of government.
The emergence of the so-called ‘no-government’ conservative (as opposed to the ‘small-government’ conservative) has produced leaders who bask in the rancor of perpetual gridlock and presidential defiance. Even receiving criticism from their own party is a welcome sign that they are on the right track and sticking to their conservative guns. Do they care that the 113th Congress is quickly becoming the most unproductive congress in American history? Do they care that their approval rating is in the single digits? Not at all. They thrive on conflict. For doing so, they can effectively “muddy the waters” of Washington, making everyone (including the President) appear ineffective, incompetent and incapable of delivering progress to the average American.
Indeed, both parties cannot be blamed for this equally. The past ten years have seen an incredible shifting of the Republican Party toward its right wing, with the Great Recession and the Obama presidency only exacerbating the effect. Since the Republican brand was so badly damaged during the Bush Administration, it was imperative that Obama not be successful for the sake of the party’s future. The delegitimization of his presidency was therefore instantaneous, manifesting itself in questions about his birthplace, faith and ‘socialistic’ tendencies. His meteoric rise was even seen as a fluke and sorely resented by an older generation of Congressmen who believed in “paying your dues” before sitting in the Oval Office. In any case, the Republican Party is and will always be unwilling to work with Obama and give him the slightest of victories. They can only hope instead that Washington’s dysfunction lasts long enough for the American people to lift up their hands in disgust and blame the man at the helm.

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