Editorial: Who’s minding the store?
When you strip away all the pomp and pageantry, the job of Congress is quite simple: To keep the government running in a smooth and efficient manner.
Judged on that one basic criterion, the 113th iteration of this venerable body has failed miserably. Congress continually holds itself hostage, either threatening to shut down the government or default on the debts it has already incurred. Legislators go from one manufactured crisis to the next, with no end in sight.
It would be akin to hiring a store manager who, every few weeks, decided he would either lock up the shop’s doors or not pay his suppliers and employees. Either action is disastrous for the store’s owner … which, in the case of Congress, is the American public. How can we allow this to continue?
The problem is, in this highly polarized political atmosphere, compromise is a dirty word. And with House districts increasingly drawn up to favor one party or the other, candidates are rewarded for pandering to their political base. There’s no incentive to move toward the middle. Most races are decided in the party’s primary or convention; general elections are becoming increasingly superfluous.
And when these newly elected ideological zealots find that they cannot push their radical agendas through by traditional legislative means, they use the drastic method of threatening to blow up the whole works.
While these methods may please the individual members’ base, the collective action of all 535 Congressmen and women has done little but lead to stagnation, fear and uncertainty.