Nothing much is going to happen in Washington for the next two years, so now’s a great time for pundits to investigate what’s going on in the rest of the nation.
Another election come and gone, and with it comes much pundit silliness. And one of the hallmarks of this silliness, along with the faith that elections confer divine mandates, is the belief that now that the GOP has won a majority in both houses of Congress we can look forward to lots of things being done to address national problems.
It’s total hogwash. Yes the Republican party winning a majority in the Senate for the first time in eight years will have a big impact on things like federal judges and a possible Supreme Court vacancy. But one thing it’s not going to do is lead to lots of bills being passed. The reason for this was summed up by Jonathan Ladd a few days ago:
Passing laws already required approval of the Republican majority in the House of Representatives. This has led Congress to pass the least legislation in history. Even with the Senate swing to the GOP, hardly any measures that the House and Obama agree to will fail in the Senate.
The fact of the matter is not a whole lot is going to be happening in Washington over the next few years.
Personally I think we should treat this as an opportunity not some sort of disaster. So instead of whining about gridlock for the next two years, Washingtonians could do us all a big service and just get out of Washington for a while. Just imagine all the interesting stories and topics that could be unearthed if folks stopped writing the same columns about how Obama “just needs to call a big meeting” or whatever.
To name just one example: America is becoming a more unequal and less economically mobile type of society. What is life like for the new super rich, and more interestingly what is it like for their children? Pundits are great at hobnobbing at cocktail parties and prying juicy bits of gossip out of people, why not use these skills for something other than getting the latest round of talking points out of some senator?
Pundits will probably ignore my advice and go on talking about how Obama “needs to lead” but the point still stands. Not much is going to happen inside the Beltway for the next few years so why not tell us about what is happening outside of it?
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