While the Impeachment Thunder Roars, Congress Quietly Legislates

Michael Siegel

Michael Siegel is an astronomer living in Pennsylvania. He is on Twitter, blogs at his own site, and has written a novel.

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7 Responses

  1. Chip Daniels says:

    Why would Congress want their legislation to be quiet?Report

  2. This is the paradox of modern politics: each side has a very entrenched base of voters with no goodwill towards the other side. Because of structural certainties such as single-member districts, gerrymandering, and urbanization – elections are a foregone conclusion in most districts in terms of which side will win. This means that almost every member of Congress and almost every senator plays much more to the base than they do to swing voters, and they are smart to do so. However this also means that if they want to get anything accomplished such as the passage of a budget or the passage of a trade deal it requires cooperation with at least some members of the other party. Very few base voters appreciate it when their member of Congress looks like they are lovey-dovey with the other side. So the Paradox is that they talk up their fighting spirit during election time but they secretly play nice as an actual legislator. If this paradox were not in place then we would always have government shut downs, legislative stalemate, and we would never see a budget. Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to michaeljdavis24 says:

      Maybe I’m just being hypersensitive to the “Both Sides” term, but I don’t think Democrats have a symmetrical aversion to working with Republicans.

      For example, there were a couple of left-twitter comments making the rounds asking why we would give Trump a trade deal victory during an impeachment fight but the consensus (in my reading) of the left-o-sphere was that giving labor unions a benefit was a preferable outcome, even if Trump chooses to bray about it and take credit.

      In the larger sense, in this historical moment, Democrats really have a broad menu of tangible policy goals they want to see accomplished and are willing to partner and compromise with Republicans to achieve.

      Whereas the Republicans have a really small list- tax cuts maybe, abortion restrictions and possibly expanding gun rights.

      But that’s about it, and the last two are being given to them by the courts so they really have almost no legislative goals to speak of.Report

  3. You’re right that Democrats have many valid reasons to be skeptical to cooperate on many things with a rather vile modern GOP. My point is we cannot govern without doing so, hence the paradox. This is why it’s smart politics to play up your fighting bona fides during election season and to do some at least mild cooperation while the legislature is in session. The trade deal might be framed by Trump as a victory but Democrats should frame it as a retreat from his original protectionist position and a win for restoration of normalcy. Report