I wish I could say that I was surprised when I stumbled upon an article outlining what Congress had been up to over the last week. They honored a Holocaust hero, a Civil War hero, Mark Twain, and Jack Nicklaus. Representatives in the House worked on a bill that is already dead in the Senate and Members of the Senate debated a bill that won’t be voted on until after elections in November. If this isn’t a perfect example of “the problem” we have been trying to define all semester I don’t know what is.
Alabama Republican Rep. Mo Brooks justifies the current gridlock as “messaging to help the public better understand what the options are” in November. Although it seems easy to blame the political stagnation on parties positioning carefully before the upcoming election, maybe we actually have found our real problem? President Obama managed to squeeze major legislation through Congress during his first few years however this last year has been a legislative nightmare. Polarization in congress is at its worst and the public approval rating is the lowest it has been in four years (and ever). Compounded by issues that no politician will dare to stick their neck out and address (ex. nation’s massive budget deficit), the level of gridlock must be correlated with the upcoming election in November.
Is there light at the end of the tunnel? It is not likely, however, that Obama will win this election with a Regan-sized mandate or even see as favorable of an outcome in congress with majorities in both houses. If he manages to squeak out the win, is it inevitable that we will see another four years like this last one? If so, then my election-year-gridlock theory is bust.