Saving the Republic

Saving the Republic

America is in danger. This danger isn’t economic, military or demographic. It’s that the country has become ungovernable.

This isn’t news to anyone. Supermajorities from both parties have been unable to accomplish most of what they were elected to do, and it’s been this way for decades. The checks and balances in our government make significant change almost impossible with the ideologically coherent parties we’ve come to today. Status quo bias is huge, while congress spends it’s time carving out policies and tax credits for crony capitalists and special interests.

Part of the problem is the GOP. They’ve distilled their ideology into an easy series of litmus tests that apply to any situation regardless of whether they work or not. Any setback requires more of the same, especially when the second try doesn’t work as well. Any foreign threat real or imagined can be dealt with through the use of unilateral force. Any economic problem can be solved with lower taxes or less regulation. Poverty is a moral failing.

Another part is the Democrats. They’re basically conservatives at this point, fighting rearguard actions to maintain the institutions and infrastructure built during the first half of the 20th century. They’ve largely ceded ideas to the Republicans and moral authority to the wacky and until recently harmless fringe of their party that Fox news regularly makes fun of.

The Democrats have to be willing to actually believe in something. Global warming is a huge problem and we must do something about it. Inequality, both at institutional and income levels, are not conducive to maintaining a broad middle class and should be dealt with through large income redistribution. Our cities are far too sparse and spread out to house all the people that want to live in them today, and the people around the world that want to move into them. Healthcare should be a civil right and can be made cheaper through price controls. Ambitious government projects in infrastructure, renewable energy and science are both possible and urgent.

Republicans need to stop feeding their base crazy pills. Start stealing good ideas from center-right parties in Europe. The vast right-wing conspiracy has become too effective at keeping everyone on the same page. The right needs more heterodox politicians, pundits and thinkers and they need to be taken seriously instead of being called RINOs. More Cato and less American Enterprise Institute. Actually pay attention to why young right-wingers get excited about Ron Paul for fuck’s sake (hint: it’s not just pot). Start caring about deficits and less about blowing up perceived threats. And actually take responsibility for running the country when they’re in office.

Our government is in sorry shape right now. But our country is rich, we have tons of economic capacity to grow with and use to solve our problems. We just need to decide that doing so is more important than trying to keep things exactly as they are today.