Our federal government, as one expert describes it, is one long crisis, punctuated by brief periods of rest. It’s been true for as long as we can remember, and it likely will remain true.
But be honest, isn’t this most recent incarnation more crisis-prone than most previous versions? With the Trump administration and a seriously dysfunctional Congress, a fresh crisis seems to present itself every day or so.
The government shutdown, mercifully brief, was another manifestation of the crisis situation, made worse by a lack of leadership from the person elected to lead, Donald Trump. Those with a serviceable memory may recall businessman Trump blaming President Obama when government closed down in 2013. Apparently things — and attitudes — change when you are the person responsible for leading the nation in perilous times.
About that three-day government shutdown, don’t break out the party hats just yet. The agreed-upon fix is temporary, and another crisis looms in just a few days. One must wonder if our president will step up, take some — any — responsibility when another shutdown is imminent.
And yes, the deal that ended this most recent shutdown is an apparent political loss for congressional Democrats, at least from a partisan standpoint. But Democrats’ decision to capitulate was clearly a win for America, which in the end is what members of both political parties are supposed to really care about, but too many times don’t.
And if you blame Democrats for shutting down government last weekend, you have to give them credit for taking the steps necessary to reopen government. You can’t have one condition without at least considering the other.
Average Americans may wonder why members of Congress can’t seem to find a way around institutional dysfunction, but perhaps something that happened during bipartisan negotiations on Monday may clear things up. The group of Republicans and Democrats sat around a table, and to avoid the inevitable talk-over problem, decided to use a “talking stick,” an object passed around the table, so the person holding the stick had the floor, and could speak without interruption.
Now, be honest, doesn’t that explain a lot about the general behavior of members of Congress, using a grade-school — or perhaps even pre-school — maneuver to ensure a measure of civility?
Even that ploy had a bumpy ride, because at one point the stick was reportedly hurled toward a congressional member who insisted on asking questions while another member had the stick in hand.
Fake news? Who knows? But it seems a clear demonstration of the problem that hangs over Washington like a Tule fog over the Central Valley.
The drama is far from over. Congress now has less than three weeks to come up with a viable compromise. Democrats capitulated on last weekend’s shutdown in the belief they might get some cooperation from Republicans to rescue the Dreamer program.
And therein lies another potential problem. President Trump seemed to agree to saving Dreamers, when Democrats agreed to funding his border wall scheme — only to have Trump back away from the deal, which prompted Sen. Chuck Schumer to say dealing with Trump is like trying to negotiate with Jell-O.
As we said earlier, one long crisis, interrupted by blips of sanity. It’s difficult to imagine anything positive coming from this latest blip, and the whole thing boils up again early next month.
And as far as which party or individual politician won or lost, that too demonstrates the Washington problem. Hey, guys and gals, forget about your political careers. It’s America and its citizens that truly matter.