Dysfunctional Government

Alan Zendell, December 5th, 2022

In recent decades, divisiveness and extremist politics have taken an increasing toll on our government’s ability to function. Despite warnings that the government itself could become a casualty, that trend, worsened by the intraparty struggle between Trumpers and RINOs, continued into the Biden administration. Yet, our seriously underestimated President, with able assistance from the House and Senate Majority leaders, has put the lie to the dysfunctional label.

President Biden and his first Congress have accomplished more legislatively in two years than any administration since FDR’s first term. What’s been done is truly remarkable, given that Democrats needed every vote in their Senate caucus to get anything done. If you haven’t noticed until now, recent actions by Congress and the White House should convince you. With a potentially devastating rail strike on the horizon, Leaders Pelosi and Schumer mobilized their members and got an emergency bill to the president’s desk in days that codified the tentative agreement reached last month by railroad and union reps into law.

Averting a railroad strike was a special circumstance, but it demonstrates that when it is most important, Democrats are capable of governing. Even more impressive is that more than a third of Republicans in the House supported the bill while a handful of radical progressives opposed it. That tells us that somewhere in the massive chaos that is today’s Republican Party, there remains a core of responsible lawmakers. For them, at least, there is a line between partisan politics and their constitutional duty to act responsibly in the interests of our country that they won’t cross.

I believe we’re about to see things shift back toward normalcy. The extremism and divisiveness that was so appealing to Trump’s most passionate supporters and which has dominated the Republican Party since 2016 are nearing the end of their run. Most Republicans never supported them, but political movements have enormous inertia, and getting the system to revert back to normal is almost as difficult as reversing an avalanche. Until now, the majority of Republicans haven’t had the courage to speak out. They either cut and run when the going got rough or they retreated into a self-protective stance to assure their re-election.

Now that Trump can be seen to be the self-serving monster he is and the justice system appears close to holding him accountable, the solid wall of resistance to actually governing instead of squabbling like school children is crumbling. The country has had two years to evaluate Biden’s presidency against the four years of Trump’s. And as almost all Americans put the chaos of 2020, the lies and the false allegations of a stolen election in their rear-view mirrors, those things are all Trump has left to talk about.

I won’t repeat all the details, but it’s fair to say that most well-informed reasonable people can see how much better off we all are with Biden at the helm. Biden’s policies have caused a remarkable economic recovery, begun reversing the trend toward outsourcing manufacturing to other countries, initiated the first real defense against the effects of climate change, and certainly not least of all, restored dignity and moral clarity to our government while regaining the respect we once had internationally. In my view, he may also be responsible for stifling the re-emergence of the Soviet Union while it was stillborn. A weaker leader or one who wasn’t motivated to reunite and strengthen the NATO alliance would have left us in a situation in which the risk of nuclear war or catastrophic economic problems increased daily. It’s easy to forget all Biden has achieved, because he does it without fanfare, running his mouth in self-aggrandizement, or offending decent people everywhere.

The struggle for integrity and effective government are clearly nearing their endgame as Trump struggles to retain a shred of credibility with anyone not part of his rabid base. If any American who cares about the future of the country hasn’t already grown sick of everything related to Trump, his actions this week must surely cause a serious backlash. In taking up the cause of every extremist group that wants to undermine our constitution and overthrow the government, Trump now advocates terminating the Constitution so that the 2020 election can be declared invalid! All the cliches about cornered rats take on new meaning in light of Trump’s latest antics.

Trump isn’t responsible the decades of increasing dysfunction in our government, but he exacerbates and uses it because he can only win in times of chaos and confusion. With Trump out of the picture, extremists at both ends of the political spectrum will still have their voices, but they will no longer dominate our lives and news cycles. I even foresee a day when Congress has a positive approval rating.

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