ONE-PARTY RULE…. There seems to be a few problems with Fred Hiatt’s latest column.
For moderate voters clinging to some faith in government, the question over the past two decades of mostly two-party rule was: Can’t Washington do anything?
Now, with one party pretty much in control, the question has become both more hopeful and more anxious: Will Washington do anything responsibly?
Actually, describing the past two decades as “mostly two-party rule” doesn’t quite capture the Bush-Cheney era. In the four years spanning 2003 to 2006, Republicans ran the whole show. In Bush’s first two years in office, there was a GOP majority in the House, and a narrowly divided Senate.
For that matter, asking whether Washington can “do anything” is also the wrong question to consider of the Bush-Cheney era. The problem wasn’t constant gridlock, the problem was the policy agenda that the White House had very little trouble passing. Indeed, for the first six years of Bush’s presidency, gridlock wasn’t much of a problem at all — the administration tended to get what it wanted. The result was a mess because those Republican policies didn’t work.
Now Hiatt’s worried about Democrats being irresponsible?
Now, it isn’t easy being a responsible majority when much of your opposition won’t even admit there’s a problem (as in climate change) or remains less interested in solutions than in grist for 30-second commercials warning of higher taxes or socialized medicine. If it turns out this government can’t fashion workable solutions and pay for them, it won’t be the fault of Democrats alone. But let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
Yes, let’s hope, but let’s also take a moment to note that the Democratic majority is dealing with a legislative dynamic never before seen in American history — a congressional minority that has no qualms about filibustering practically every single measure that reaches the floor of the Senate.