I read a wonderful article today http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130638147 that listed many of the impressive accomplishments of the 111th Congress. I won’t repeat them all here, but please do take a look at the article. Despite
unstinting and unwavering Republican obstructionism, the Democrats have a
tremendous record of achievement. This has been, in fact, one of the most productive
Congressional sessions in at least half a century.
Yet we so often hear people complaining that the President hasn’t done much, and that Congress is in gridlock. Much of the agenda the Democrats ran on in 2008 has in fact been enacted, but no one seems to notice. Part of the problem undoubtedly is that, after a decade of inattention and incompetence, there is just so very much to do. Even after such a stunningly productive session, the list of things that need fixing remains long.
Imagine you and a few friends from college join together and buy a house. Someone else lived there before, and performed no repairs for the last ten years. In fact, they had wild parties nearly ever night, and left the place a shambles. You move in, and hardly know where to start. So you begin with the emergency stuff — you buy a new furnace, new water heater, new stove and fridge. You start trying to sweep the dust out of some of the rooms.
But your three roomies from college are just not cooperating. One of them only sits around in his room and complains, another keeps stealing and hiding your tools, and the third one occasionally knocks more holes in the walls. None of them agree on what should be repaired first, or what color to repaint. And they won’t help to pay the bills either, forcing
you to borrow the money — and then they complain that you’re putting them all further into debt.
The emergency stuff gets done — you had to do that furnace, because winter’s coming on. You got some of the wiring fixed. And the stove now works. But since you spent so much time and effort with the emergencies, you didn’t have a chance yet to fix the windows, or repair some of the holes in the roof. The weather is getting colder, and there’s still a stiff
breeze coming in, and rain is dripping from the rafters, and the uncooperative roomies complain that they’re cold and demand to know why you’re not done fixing
Oh, and bear in mind — the roomie who keeps breaking things is one of the guys who had been there before, one of the party animals who had spent theprevious decade trashing the house. And he now wants to invite more of his friends to move in, the ones who like to celebrate by firing their guns intothe air. Indoors.
Things sometimes have to get a lot worse before they get better. Alcoholics Anonymous often tells us an addict has to hit rock bottom before pulling out. America may still be addicted to right wing memes. Let’s hope we hit bottom before 2012.