Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Problem

We have a problem in American politics today, one that many people still refuse to acknowledge.

Yesterday, the Republican-led House finally, grudgingly passed a $50.5 billion relief bill for victims of Superstorm Sandy, the storm that devastated the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut areas at the end of last fall. Tuesday's $50 billion aid package, added to the $9.7 billion federal flood aid package that was passed on Jan. 4, roughly matches the Senate's $60 billion package which they passed nearly three weeks ago, on Dec. 28.

While it's great that the relief measure finally passed the House, it is an embarrassment that it took our Congress this long to agree to a bill to help millions of Americans recover from a natural disaster. Instead of putting bipartisanship aside and helping their fellow Americans in an emergency, Congress - specifically House Republicans - effectively abandoned their fellow Americans during the holiday season. That kind of crazy behavior is simply inexcusable.

It has taken Congress twelve weeks to get this far, and the relief bill still isn't technically passed, in large part because we have a major problem in American politics.

As a comparison for how fast legislation can move when there isn't the same problem, the New York state Legislature passed sweeping new laws on gun safety - one of the most divisive issues in America - on day two of their 2013 session, yesterday, with solid bipartisan support.

Have you figured out what the problem is yet?

Today, we are 100% certain that problem will raise its ugly head again, when President Obama and Vice President Biden release their plans for new gun safety measures. We have no doubt, while many Republicans will be wailing about how gun control laws are evil and Democrats refuse to work with them out of one side their mouths, those same Republicans may as well be ringed with spikes as they spit fire about anyone who disagrees with them from the other side of their mouths.

For the record, President George W. Bush signed his own meager gun control five years ago this month, yet Republicans and the NRA didn't claim the world was coming to an end back then.

Still trying to figure out the problem?

We never remember seeing protestors prior to the second inauguration of Reagan, Clinton, or Bush, and we don't remember freshman House members ever threatening any President with impeachment if the President pushed forward on controversial legislation.

The problem, if you haven't figured it out by now, is the spiky, bipolar nature of the GOP right now.

Republicans like Rep. Michele Bachmann can't even find co-sponsors for their legislation right now due to their extremism. Meanwhile, more centrist-leaning Republicans like Alaska's Lisa Murkowski seem to be forced to quietly, desperately run away from insane tea party ideas like holding the nation's economy hostage over the debt ceiling.

The Republican Party can't claim that they want bipartisanship, and then insist bipartisanship means doing everything their way. That is the childish attitude of a group of individuals who have yet to understand that the political reality has changed.

The tea party is over. Time to hang up your costume and act like an adult. Quit your whining - seriously, shut up. Grow up. Compromise. Move on. As both Democrats and Republicans in New York state's legislature showed on gun control, a lot can be done in a very short time, if one simply stops being the problem, and instead focuses on being part of the solution.

America has work to do. Either get busy helpin' or get the hell out of the way.

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