Monday, May 24, 2010

Political Truths

Here are just a few thoughts that popped into my head while reading the news today. I'll most likely expand on these points in future posts:

  • The United States is a big country. With 310,000,000 people, it's the third-biggest nation on the planet. While $1 million, $10 million, or even $10 billion may seem like a lot of money to an individual, it's a very small amount considering that there are a hell of a lot of people in the country.

  • The number one indicator of the incumbent party's fortunes in a federal or state-wide election is the economy--Specifically, the unemployment rate.

  • Generally, the only thing that can trump economic fears in the minds of voters are national security fears.

  • Politicians, like most people, most often act in their own self interest. What policy positions a politician takes is affected by his or her personal convictions, who has given a bribe (campaign donation), and the demands of the voting public. Campaign contributions can trump personal conviction, and constituent demands can trump both.

  • Although what happens in Washington impacts everyone in the nation, most people make the judgement that closely following politics is a waste of their time--time that's better spent on more important things, like taking care of their kids. And that's okay.

  • The Senate rules are ridiculously stupid and can easily be abused.

  • The general public will never understand how cloture, holds, or the filibuster actually work.

  • Congress as a whole has always been unpopular. I don't see that changing any time soon.

  • Most of the frustrations people have with Congress today can be blamed on the Senate rules that allow any one Senator to force any bill or nomination to be on the floor for 3+ days.

  • People in general don't understand why the politicians they elected in a landslide can't bring about the change they promised overnight. The politicians are then seen as being disingenuous or weak, as they promised one thing but couldn't deliver.

  • Given all that, though, some Members of Congress really don't want to pursue their party's platform, and instead use the rules as a shield to explain why they don't enact their promises. This usually doesn't go over too well; People want results, not complicated excuses.

  • Our political discourse in this country is almost as stupid as the Senate rules.


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