Gridlock is coming to Washington. The middle-of-the-roaders don’t like this, but it’s coming. As long as Obama is in power, Republicans can play their role as defenders of liberty. This will of course end as soon as Republicans control both houses of Congress and the White House, as they did in 2001.
The New York Times, as liberal as ever, and losing money hand over fist, ran an article bemoaning the possibility of gridlock. It interviewed four departing members: two extreme liberals, and two RINO’s. They were men who got on the gravy train early, and stayed there for decades. They will retire with magnificent pensions.
It began with an outright falsehood. “With more than 120 years in the House and Senate among them, four lawmakers offered a bit of parting wisdom to Capitol Hill newcomers: Partisanship is easy, governing is hard.” On the contrary, partisanship is hard — almost unheard of. Going along to get along — “governing” — is easy. Think “John Boehner.” Bipartisanship has been universal. But it finally getting somewhat less popular.
What we need is gridlock, and lots of it. What we need are fewer laws. I think this is what we will get for two years. But the Times sees this as “a steep decline in productivity.”
In interviews, Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa; Senator Saxby Chambliss, Republican of Georgia; Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California; and Representative Jack Kingston, Republican of Georgia, pointed out the problems of recent years — failures that contributed to a steep decline in productivity on Capitol Hill as the gulf between the parties widened.
They all agreed that Congress could not function unless members of both parties were willing to find some common ground.
Let us hope that Congress will not function.
The legislators, whose expertise ranged from health policy to appropriations to intelligence and national security, urged lawmakers to dig in for the long haul, to remember that members of Congress are supposed to fix problems, not cause them, and to be willing to do what is right despite the political risks.
Whenever a new law is passed, this creates new problems. Then another law is passed to fix the problems caused by the previous law. Laws multiply. Ludwig von Mises described this process in 1950: “Middle-of-the-Road-Policy Leads to Socialism.” It has not changed.
One of the men interviewed was Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia. He was defeated in the Republican primary for the Senate. His departing words of wisdom were these: Congressmen should not always listen to their constituents.
If lawmakers are to break out of the partisan cycle, Mr. Kingston said, they need to avoid being inundated by their constituents in an increasingly digital world where members of Congress find themselves under immediate pressure as events unfold.
“If new members allow their base to control their behavior up here they are going to be miserable,” said Mr. Kingston, who has seen the rising influence of Tea Party activists on Republican lawmakers. “While the voters might be yelling and screaming at you to do something, that’s not your job. . . .
A similar sentiment was expressed by Mr. Harkin, who was the principal sponsor of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, and 18 years later was the chief sponsor of a law that expanded disability rights again by overturning several Supreme Court decisions.
What we need is gridlock. What we need is partisanship. What we need is a dysfunctional government — dysfunctional as defined by the New York Times.