Anyone expressing surprise, please board the short, yellow bus.
Congress has always been held in low esteem, ranking on trust surveys somewhere between used car salesmen and Satan. Some call this cynical while others call it realistic. Then again the difference between cynicism and realism is vague. Cynics are either disappointed optimists or well informed optimists depending on how cynical you are to begin with. It’s not that they view the glass to be half empty, just that they don’t expect anyone to fill the glass soon. Such is the nature of outlook on congress – we have largely given-up on the notion that it is or can be populated by people with functioning dendra.
Trust is the crux of this calamity. When you trust your employees to be cunning, duplicitous, ignorant, conniving, dishonest and stupid, and then precede to given them a bonus, you merely encourage them. As each major faction of the Big Government Party (a.k.a. the Republican and Democrat wings) battles to “take back America”, vision correction via cynicism grows. Much of it derives from the fact that We The People know we are being spun, and as a demon once noted, the religion of politics is the victory of jargon over reason.
In the face of relentless, hell-flung jargon, dollops of common sense and fidelity seem comparatively magnificent. Some days it is difficult to take New Jersey Governor Chris Christy seriously, but his blunt talk and uncanny ability to stare bad situations in the eye earn him the better type of trust. So too with recent GOP hopeful Rand Paul, whose marathon filibuster against using death drones on Americans was both an act that should not have been needed and one that was appreciated. In his disorganized party of expert foot shooters, Paul’s frankness, simple articulation and fidelity to principal has become so appealing that his rapid political rise has pushed him to the forefront of presidential contenders.
Which should make Obama’s faction nervous. Jargon my meet reason in 2016.
Paul recently visited California, a state where even Republican candidates vote like watered down Democrats. The reaction has been one of cautious disbelief inverted. “After I saw him on television doing that filibuster against our government’s drone killing of American citizens, I expected to see and hear a man of undying convictions and that’s what I got,” was one summary. Ignoring policy quibbles, Paul has entered lion dens on both ends of the philosophical spectrum – from Bible belt conservatism to free love liberalism – and found friends everywhere.
This may be the beginning of the GOP’s resurrection, a party consumed with infighting between their three factions; their original libertarian leaning philosophy, their waning social conservative sour pusses and the now largely discredited big government neocons. Each wing will find things to dislike about Paul – libertarians don’t like his strong military stance, socialist conservatives his openness to gay equality and neocons for his threat to their evaporating George Bush base. Yet each group also finds many things they like and on which they agree, the most important of which may be his fidelity and straightforward nature. If blue-state Republicans are warming to Paul as well as red state ideologues, GOP unity may not be as ridiculous of a concept as congressional competence.
The next presidential election cycle (assuming a lack of coups by the current cabal) may well pit Obama’s anointed jargon master against a GOP reason master. The outcome would be very reasonable, as Obama’s affectionate Uncle Screwtape would attest.