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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

It's the deadlock, stupid

[First, a note about the absence of blog posts: severe carpal tunnel aggravated by getting rear-ended on I-76. Relief is spelled S-T-E-R-0-I-D-S. Surgery scheduled.]

The driving issue of this election campaign is glossed over by the traditional media, and consequently blogs, as an incidental strategy. The issue is the deadlock between the branches of government and within the legislature. In recent years, the public has ranked the performance of Congress as low as it has ranked the performance of George Bush—in the 30 percent range,

People do tend to get impatient with the workings of checks and balances in our government. The intended effect of checks and balances is to produce workable compromise and solutions to problems, to slow down stampeding legislation, or to sidetrack legislation that would work to the detriment of a significant part of the population. When differences devolve into angry intransigence and vengeful ploys, the result is deadlock and deadly incompetence. Once insult, abuse, and false representations enter the political dialogue, they create the conditions of war. Legislators are transformed from representatives of differing viewpoints to enemies, and deadlock is means of engaging enemies. It renders them powerless. It renders everyone powerless.

The aftermath of 9/11 has been the institution of an Orwellian regime presided over by a corporate plutocracy with pronounced fascist leanings. The Bush regime has used deception and intimidation to create a climate of fear, suspicion, and hatred that has permitted it to suspend civil rights, to sacrifice the lives and well-being of our military, and to institute a binge of war profiteering. The Bush regime and its Congressional allies have received carte blanche on the war. Resistance to the Bush juggernaut in Congress has resulted in deadlock.

Deadlock is the overriding issue. Past Congressional leaders met at the University of Oklahoma early in January to identify deadlock as the major problem facing our government and to recommend ways to surmount it. The low rating of Congress in opinion polls is tied to deadlock and the constant exchange of accusations, insult, and abuse that signals deadlock. The press, operating on the basis that conflict makes news, inflates every difference of viewpoint and statement into a fight. The press and bloggers who glean the press for every tid bit that can be the basis for accusations and condemnations play a major role in bringing America to a state of deadlock.

Barack Obama’s success in his campaign has been built on the promise of surmounting deadlock. When the Clintons were being goaded into the personal attacks that lead up to deadlock, the endorsements of Obama by key political figures caused them to change tactics. John McCain has promised in public statements to engage in dialogue rather than the tactics that lead to deadlock.

The significant divide in America is not between what defines liberal and what defines conservative. It is between those who see politics as a nasty game of impugning character and the mindless exercise of power and those who see it as the process of finding acceptable solutions to problems we face.

The primaries and caucuses signal that a majority of Americans want the end of deadlocks. That is the deciding issue in this election cycle.

You won’t find that issue much acknowledged in the press or the blogs. Listen, instead, to the candidates.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States