OBSTRUCTIONISM - The New Face of Minority Politics

Before falling prey to that old chestnut - “Both parties are the same - they’re all just political bad buys.” - the reader should take a closer look at the “unique” behavior of the Republican minority, throughout the Obama presidency. The term “unique”, as applied to their pattern of “obstructionism” is neither hyperbole, nor exaggeration, nor political rhetoric of any kind. It’s cast iron fact!

Just for a start, consider the number of filibusters exercised in the U.S. Senate by that party in just the last two sessions - OVER 250 of them. That’s a larger number of filibusters than the Senate had seen in the previous hundred years of this government combined! And again, for the first time in our history, a filibuster was used (by Republicans) to block an appointment to a Presidential Cabinet post - or more accurately to block no less than FOUR Presidential Cabinet posts! Some of those filibusters have even created long standing vacancies in at least four Superior Federal Court Justice offices, creating an unprecedented backlog of truly critical cases - all in addition to obstructions designed to block the normal functions many other governmental offices, such as the Consumer Protection Agency (to whom the Republican party is philosophically opposed). In short, if a large minority disapproves of a majority law, even one which was passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President - they now just use a filibuster to make certain that such a law is rendered toothless, making certain (in this case) that the department never gets an executive officer. That trick is nothing less than back-door obstructionism, of the sleaziest kind.

To understand the true implications, let’s look at what a filibuster is - by starting with what a filibuster isn’t. For example, It isn’t some kind of statement against an action that’s disapproved of. It’s an action taken by a large disapproving minority to make certain that NO ONE CAN GET A CHANCE TO EVEN VOTE ON THE ISSUE. In the usual proceedings of either the Senate or the House, for example, it takes only a 51% majority to pass a bill. But under the unusual rules of filibuster, in the Senate, any Senator (including any minority Senator) can simply call “filibuster”, without even having to give a reason, and the “obstruction” is in place - an obstruction which then requires a super-majority of 60% if that filibuster is to be broken. This device was established in our Senate in order to enable a minority to be guaranteed at least some voice, on matters of profound importance. But for the first time in our history, the Senate minority has determined to simply apply this mechanism to literally destroy “governance”. For that is actually the effect, when an unprincipled minority demands that EVERY bill must realize a 60% vote, if its to pass. This is a nearly impossible bar to clear, when it’s a large enough “minority”. Yet from the start of the Democratic majority in the Senate, the Republican minority demonstrated, as their avowed policy, a determination to sabotage this is not governance! This is obstructionism - and the needs of the American people, be damned! Again for example, in the usual course of politics a typical politician will normally offer all sorts of rationalities for what ever he does in office, so long as it can mask his true political agenda. But how strange is it then, when the Senate minority leader proudly announces, as Mitch McConnell had, more than once, that “My first priority is to make Obama a one-term President.” This is the first time in my experience that I’ve ever heard a politician announce that “What he’s doing is for political purposes, only - and governance be damned”! Is this the statement of a U.S. law-maker seeking the best interest of the American people - or a man admitting to being a pure politician, and seeking nothing more than power for himself and for his party, even if he has to bring massive injury to the people that he was empowered to represent?

This nation is bleeding to death, with gun violence - and poll after poll shows that three-quarters of the nation at least, wants meaningful, loophole-free background checks. The public now demands a ban on “battlefield” assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Where then is our “representative” governance, when an entire political party - in the pay of gun lobby - can obstruct the Senate from passing protective laws, and in the House, will never even allow such laws to be presented for a vote?

Obstructionism, which for all time had been regarded with contempt and disdain, is now the proudly flaunted weapon of a political party who now revels in its use. Why? Because, whether by conviction or by agenda, that party has chosen to adopt both social and economic policies which profoundly violate the public will. Anti-Hispanic, antiblack, anti-gay - in effect anti- any social belief which expands not only equality, but even “equal justice under the law”.

Strangest, and most irrational of all, is the Republican policies on economic issues, which they loudly espouse to be “stop government spending”, and “reduce the Federal debt” - at any cost! Yet on the issue of government spending, these same politicians never uttered a peep, while they themselves were part of the Bush administration, which in eight years added 5.5 trillions to the Federal debt. Nor do they yield the slightest acknowledgment to the truth that in the final year of the Clinton administration it showed 200 billions in revenue surpluses, and using the money to pay down the debt - or that the first year of the Bush administration turned that 200-billion surplus into a 300-billion dollar deficit. Nor do they recognize that each year of the Obama administration has seen a drop in government employment and deficits.

Stranger still, they totally ignore the reality that the Bush tax cuts, during his eight years in office saw the middle class shrink in numbers, and their income stay flat, while the richest 2% of the country saw their income and holdings rise by 300%. An yet, in spite of this reality, and coincident to their demands that the debt brought down, the Republicans have steadily demanded that all the savings be made on the backs of the middle-class, the poor, and the programs that were designed to keep people from starving to death, or freezing in the winter! And as much as they clamor to bring down the debt and deficits, they’ve demonstrated a determination to bring government to a screeching halt, at the slightest suggestion of increasing the tax burden of the wealthiest people and corporations in the country - the ones that those politicians have themselves enrich by tax laws that were effectively “Robin Hood in reverse”!
The Republican battle cry has been simple - “Reduce government to a size that would allow it to be drowned in bath tub!” Is this really their conviction? Or is it rather the agenda of the people who fill their campaign coffers? What is really behind they’re push for smaller government? Could it be because “small government” doesn’t break up monopolies, or force business to clean up their smokestacks, or stop them from dumping their crap into our rivers and lakes? Small government doesn’t enforce safe working conditions, or stop predatory lending practices, or stop brokerage firms from playing games with the markets - and with your pensions and savings.

With these Republican policies, which have acted to dramatically shrink their public influence, the Republican party is squealing about its loss of “public appeal”. And so, in typical fashion, they apply the most grizzly of all obstruction tactics. They tell their local electorate anything they think that electorate wants to heard, so as to get themselves elected to office. But once in office (in most Republican controlled states), they gerrymander the hell out of their states, so that their shrinking “political minority” can gain a majority of seats in both their state legislatures and in the House of Representatives in Washington. Then finding that this trick alone isn’t enough, they then twist and distort the voting laws, to apply every trick in the book, and then some, to make it difficult if not impossible for voters of the other party to even vote! In short, if their policies (agendas) can’t win the majority’s favor, then they’ll ginger up the system so that their hoodwinked minority will still win.

WAKE UP AMERICA - the party of obstructionism and gerrymandering, funded by billionaires and corporations, have determined to buy the government of the United States - and by that means, bring an end to representative government in this country and their on the hairy edge of succeeding. And once they have, every aspect of government will be privatized - as they have already partially succeed in doing, with medical insurance, the postal service and the prison system. In time, every agency of government, including the parks and highways, will be run FOR PROFIT. Welcome to the Corporate States of America.