My faith in our system is being tested

The Art of the Possible by Michael Crawford in the New Yorker

My faith in our political system is pretty strong.  I was nothing short of devastated when the Bush v. Gore decision was read but it didn’t make me think President George W. Bush was an illegitimate president.  When you work on campaigns, sometimes your candidate loses.  You know that going in.  Doesn’t make it any easier. (It don’t mean the world has ended a Biblical ‘end of days’ like some people suggested when Barack Obama moved into 1600 Penn Avenue).

Recently, my faith has been shaken.  I always thought that when push came to shove, our leaders would do just that.  This long, painful back and forth and he said/she said spring has been agonizing.

I understand that people can look at the same thing and come to different conclusions without either of them being crazy.  I cling to the idea that reasonable people can disagree without being unreasonable.  I understand the urge to want the people you elect to not compromise but there’s comes a time when that is what you have to do.  This is one of those times.

It is perfectly understandable for the people in Congress who want to see a smaller government see an opportunity here.  If that was their real goal, and it would have been perfectly understandable if they had told the White House, “Look we understand we are going to have to look at the debt ceiling.  We are concerned that if we let this opportunity to really trim government spending, without raising taxes, we will have failed ourselves and our constituents, we will not do that.  Will you work with us?” (They could have just as easily taken that to the Democrats in Congress).

That conversation would have happened months ago, when there was more than two weeks to do everything under the sun.

I have two reasons to see posturing now.  The first is this debt ceiling is on spending that has already been approved.  The Republicans are just as likely to tell you they were no less in favor of spending when they were in total control of the White House and Congress.  The linkage between the debt itself and the debt ceiling is only valid when frame it as above.

The second problem is that campaigning and governing are two very different things. They require different skills sets and priorities.  When they collide, strange thing happen.  As everyone in Washington likes to quote, Senator Moynihan said, “You have a right to your own opinion but not your own facts.”  It may be a pleasant thing to think that nothing bad will happen on August 3rd should we fail here I don’t think that’s teh case.

I am loathe to bring up Michelle Bachmann here because anyone who has ever met me or read about me knows I do not agree with her political ideology.  My bigger issue — and I know everyone makes gaffes, even Joe Biden whom I like a lot — is her wanton disregard for facts (the founding fathers did not fight tirelessly to end slavery and the ‘shot heard round the world’ was not in New Hampshire) and should we fail to raise the debt ceiling, it will do terrible things to our already fragile economy.

I suspect, our leaders will do the right thing but this has been hard to endure.