It's not much of a secret Americans are growing frustrated with the slow pace of the Republican led Congress, particularly members of their own party. It was hoped legislation would be on the president's desk immediately following his inauguration to repeal and replace Obamacare. It wasn't. Instead, the House and Senate fumbled the ball and the bill stagnated until the Graham-Cassidy Bill, which still doesn't solve the problem effectively. Even though they campaigned for several years to oust Obamacare, they have suddenly come down with an acute case of the stupids.
Now in October, it was hoped we would have also rewritten the tax code by now, passed the 2018 budget, and addressed the construction of the southern border wall. Alas, nothing. Even though Republicans control both chambers of Congress, they give the distinct impression they are reluctant to do anything. The question is, why?
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell claims the President doesn't understand how the Congress works, that there are political protocols to be observed. In contrast, the President is perfectly cognizant of the political gymnastics involved, but ran into a stumbling block of a lethargic Congress. On the campaign trail, he repeatedly called out the Congressional establishment of both parties by saying it was time to "drain the swamp." This was a slogan the American public embraced and helped catapult the President to the White House.
The slow pace of today's Congress lies in sharp contrast to the "Contract with America," offered in 1994 by then Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich with Dick Armey. Back then, the Republicans articulated an agenda and made sweeping reforms. Not so today. The reason is simple, establishment Republicans consider the Trump agenda a threat to their political existence.
Instead of rallying around the President, Congressional politicians are primarily concerned with getting re-elected in the 2018 midterm elections. As such, they see Mr. Trump's populist agenda as a political football which they are hesitant to run with. Because of the controversy surrounding the President, GOP politicians perceive Mr. Trump as a political liability, not an asset. If they support the President, they are convinced the news media and "resistance" movement will unseat them. They also believe if they can demonstrate their independence, their chances for winning re-election will improve, and this is where they are wrong.
It is rare to have a single party control both the executive and legislative branches of government at the same time. When this happens, it is presumed they will work together to achieve goals such as those in the "Contract with America." Whereas Mr. Trump has undone a lot of the Obama-era executive orders, he is frustrated by a Congress that moves painfully slow. The Congress knows what Mr. Trump wants, as based on his "Contract with the American Voter," they are just hesitant to give it to him as they perceive it as a threat to their livelihood.
The Republicans were aghast when Mr. Trump recently sat down with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in September to work out deals on hurricane relief, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), and border security. First, negotiating with the opposing party is something a President should do, as exemplified by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s and Bill Clinton in the 1990s. Unfortunately, Barack Obama did not follow suit. Second, the President has grown frustrated with the inability of the Congressmen from his own party to get anything done, so talking with the opposition seems rather obvious. According to polls, it appears the American people agree with him. It is pretty sad when the President has to battle members of his own party as well as the opposition, but such is the state of politics in Washington, DC.
Should the Republicans lose the Senate and/or the House in 2018, they will only have themselves to blame, not the President. Instead of bucking his agenda, they should seize the day. The American people are tired of talk and desperately want the type of decisive action Mr. Trump campaigned on. So far, they haven't seen it in 2017 and view Congressional Republicans as roadblocks, not movers and shakers.
Congressional Republicans are having difficulty coming to grips that it is a new day in American politics. As evidenced by Mr. Trump's victory, the populace no longer accepts the status quo. Should Congress continue snubbing the President they will continue to be perceived as a part of the Washington "establishment" which will ultimately cost them their re-election. As much as they may hate the President, they do not seem to grasp their political future is dependent on him. They must decide to either rally around the President or face losing their jobs in the midterm elections.
This exhibition of weakness by the GOP will haunt the party for years to come. As long as they continue to think short term, their tenure as leaders of the Congress will be brief. All because they want to thwart someone perceived to be an outsider of their political clique.
Keep the Faith!
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Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.