As the nation ramps for an election year next year – or, as insiders like to call it, the “Silly Season” – it might be helpful to review for the benefit of those who do not live in the nation’s capital how things really work there, and what that means to the outcome of the current battles in Congress as well as the impending elections in 2014 and 2016.
It may be worth noting that I am eminently qualified to make observations about Washington, DC. I spent some 20 years there, working the corridors of power and the halls of Congress, with additional interactions with the Supreme Court and most of the major federal agencies. What’s more, I earned a living doing analyses of what was happening within government – writing, lecturing and giving testimony before more Congressional and judicial freak shows than any human should have to endure. And I was nearly always right – if you are not consistently right in your analyses, people stop paying you.
This isn’t analysis from the right or the left of the political spectrum. True, I am a fiscal conservative who would like to see Congress stop spending money it does not have. But I am a social libertarian – I don’t much care what you do or with whom, as long as you don’t try to make me pay for it or force me to believe what you believe. In truth, I stopped being a Democrat when I turned 21, after Lyndon Johnson shoved us headlong into the Vietnam War. And stopped being a Republican when radio pundit Rush Limbaugh declared that there was no room in the Republican Party for moderates.
So with that as prelude, here is my 10-point guide to the impending elections of 2014/2016:
- Everything that happens in Washington is a battle for power between the Republican and Democratic Parties. Forget doctrines. Forget lofty ideals, or saving the children, or helping the underprivileged, or balancing the budget. It is only about getting and keeping power. The party in power wants to keep it by using your tax dollars to buy votes. The party that is out of power is desperate to get back into power, because that’s how they amass personal fortunes. Everything else you hear or read about the elections is swill they slop out to the masses in the hope that they can fool you into voting for them.
- There is no difference between the two parties. Republicans spend money like crack whores on a binge. Democrats endorse repressive government controls over our lives. Both parties flat out love the fact that the NSA is spying on all of us, because that means they will have more ability to target their political enemies and stay in power. There are just as many perverts in the Republican Party as in the Democratic. Just as many scoundrels among donkeys as elephants. And neither party could manage their way out of a wet paper bag. Leaders? Hardly any on either side – which is why you hear them saying such incredibly stupid things on the news. Why, then, do we have two parties? Because Congress does not want three parties (you might vote them out of power), and does not want one party (you might vote for the person and how well that person performs rather than along “party lines.”).
- Washington is terrified because you are not. In 2004, brilliant author Michael Crichton (“The Andromeda Strain,” “Prey,” “The 13th Warrior,” etc.) wrote a terrific techno-thriller called “State of Fear” in which he outlined how the media and the government collude to keep the American public in a constant state of fear. People who are afraid are people who turn to their government for solutions. They are more docile, and easier to fool. Don’t believe that? Um, the global warming hoax, pat-downs by lecherous TSA agents, the war on drugs, identity theft, the jihadists among us, home-grown domestic terrorists and the every-six month budget crises make my point. And did you really spend the decade of the Eighties believing the greatest threat to your family was some drug lord in the jungles of Columbia? The problem is that people aren’t buying it any more. In the current debate over an impending (36 hours away as I write this) government shutdown, no one really cares. All of the blather and bluster by both parties is generating one major yawn from the Heartland. And that terrifies Washington because if we are not afraid we are not easily controlled.
- Washington is even more terrified of the Tea Party. Anarchists. Arsonists. Terrorists. Whack jobs. The most dangerous fringe group in the nation today. And that’s just what the Republicans are calling the Tea Party members. The Tea Parties – who are not one party, but a loose collection of grass-roots organizations whose only common ground is a belief in balancing the budget and reducing the Federal debt – scare Washington because they are disruptive. Not that they are uncivil. But think about it. They came seemingly out of nowhere to seize control of the House of Representatives in 2010, and refused to follow party lines. These “tea-baggers,” as the potty-mouth media likes to call them, believe that they were actually sent to Congress to do what their constituents want them to do. This is a heretical and dangerous idea to the senior ranks of both parties. It took everything the Democrats could do to beat the Tea Partiers down in 2012, and they are not yet dead. Now the republicans are joining with them. Imagine what would happen to the Washington power elite were actually forced to do what their constituents wanted them to do?
- People who are sick of their status will vote the current party out of power in the belief that things will change. This is what the Democrats really fear, because frankly nothing they have done for the past five years is working. All the lies, the razzle-dazzle, the trillions in “stimulus,” free cell phones for the masses – these things have impressed the people who don’t care much about politics, but they have failed to move the people who actually vote. Nor are the Republicans very happy about what is coming, because there is a very real chance that voters will look at the “go along to get along” Republican leadership and vote them right out the door in favor of people who actually want to do what they promised to do. Nor is the Washington establishment crazy about the upcoming elections, because each time there is a change in power the winning party institutes a “scorched earth” policy. That means, in this case, that every association, every lobbying group, every major law firm and every think tank will have to fire their Democratic executives and hire Republicans – at enormous cost and at the risk of the current executives having to actually find real jobs for the first time in years.
- The real battle is for control of the Republican Party. The Democrats are less than enchanted with the ever-more-imperial and largely incompetent Barack Obama, but they are smart enough to know that a civil war within their party may mean it is never heard from again. After all, if Obamacare fails and the economy continues to tank, they may be facing eight more years of scorched earth from the Republicans. They caught a lucky break during the eight years of the hardly-conservative Bush administrations, just as Republicans caught a break during the eight years of mostly-moderate Clinton administrations. But the Republicans are facing the greatest fissure in party unity since 1864. Conservatives in the party are unhappy with the Republican old guard. Libertarians who used to default to the party are staying at arm’s length. The Tea Party faction is unhappy at Republican spending during the Bush years and their willingness to compromise principals today. Now such mavericks as Rick Perry and Ted Cruz are openly defiant of party lines and even more openly disdainful of the direction the party has taken. This revolution will see its first battles in 2014 as a prelude to armageddon in 2016.
- Americans are not nearly as divided as both parties like to pretend. Both parties are now engaged in dreadful hate speech in an attempt to convince Americans that “those other people” hate them back. Heartland folks against east and west-coast liberals, blacks against Hispanics, and everyone against gays. But the truth is that the overwhelming majority of Americans are busy getting on with their lives, helping their friends and neighbors, and trying to see that their children turn out well. Except for tiny minorities on each end of the political spectrum, most Americans are not racists, homophobes, communists, rednecks, criminals or slackers. And that is a problem for politicians today. They believe they are at war, but are unable to get voters to hate the enemy. If we do not hate, we will not rally to their flags.
- Legalization of marijuana is a bogus issue. After 40 years, it is clear that we are losing the War on Drugs. There is no better example of this than the fight to legalize marijuana – a drug that the US Government claims has no medicinal value whatsoever even though the government itself patented the use of medical marijuana in 2005 (see US Patent No. 6,630,507). The “argument” over legalization is another issue being misused used by both parties to instill fear and loathing in voters. Drug Lords will be selling pot in elementary schools! The government is trying to keep good medicine away from us! Rally round the flags! Neither party will publicly endorse legalization in 2014 or 2016 – they are too busy trying to kill one another to care. And even though an estimated 50 percent of the population now uses cannabis sativa at least occasionally, this battle will be fought at the state and county levels, not nationally. Not that it won’t be fun to watch the planned Super Bowl ad for legalization…
- Forget all of the “old school” candidates. Sorry, John Kerry, John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. You are all remnants of a day that has already passed, and none of you stand a snowflake’s chance in hell of making it to the Oval Office. As we have done since 1992, we will elect an “outsider” in the hopes that our next president will not be tainted by ideology or party group-think. Granted, we haven’t done too well with that strategy so far. But Americans are an optimistic group, and we will likely take the same path again. Another Reagan or Clinton, please, not another Carter or Bush. Hillary Clinton may be the smartest of the bunch – she has begun making noises that she may not run. The expression “quit while you are ahead” is relevant here.
- There are good people in Washington, too. For all of the divisive rhetoric, the brain-dead media, the blather and gridlock and fear and loathing, there are a surprising number of good people in both parties. They work in Washington to create and implement sane policies to help people, keep the country on an even keel, and advance the interests of the American way. They don’t get much press, so you may not even know they exist. Congressman Bob Goodlatte of my own 6th Congressional District of Virginia is one. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon is another. Both are honorable men who deserve the respect of their peers but often fail to get it. They also deserve the support of their respective voters.
Okay, my prediction is that the Republicans will seize control of Congress in 2014 and likely will take the White House in 2016. But don’t expect either party to be happy about it. The new Republicans will want to push to get the economy working by cutting regulations and the size of government. They will do so by pushing aside their own party leaders. And Democrats will be unhappy because their earth will be scorched and their opportunities to enrich themselves limited for years thereafter.
As for the things we think we believe in? None of them will seriously happen. No term limits, as members of government will never willingly vote themselves out of power. No reform of the tax code, because if members of Congress can’t diddle with the tax code to benefit their friends, they can’t get campaign contributions to stay in power. No gun control, because the facts are on the side of gun ownership. No overturn of Roe v. Wade, because most Americans don’t use abortion services and thus do not care. No immigration reform, because voters don’t want illegal immigration but businesses do. And no revolution, because we have the power of the vote, no matter how hard Google tried to manipulate us.
My $.02 worth. Feel free to disagree.