District of Complacency

What does the “C” stand for in “Washington, D.C.”? Complacency?

 

Apparently so.

As the permanent ruling class in both parties continues to empty out our retirement nest egg in our Social Security accounts – an act that would bring a private-sector person a lengthy prison sentence – now there’s talk of Republicans trying to further limit our voluntary 401k retirement contributions, in order to make more of our income taxable.

Really? Do these people have no shame?

We can answer that. No, they don’t.

Entrenched and seemingly impervious to election defeat, our rulers in Washington leave scratch marks on Capitol doorframes on the rare occasions they are dragged kicking and screaming out of office.

One Michigan congressional seat has been in the same family – the Dingells – for nearly 85 years. Is that supposed to happen in a representative democracy?

Congress has become calcified.

Even as it becomes clear that voters, particularly Republicans, are on the cusp of an uprising over the GOP Senate’s inability to get anything done – and even though President Trump essentially tried to shame him into doing his job – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been the very model of smugness.

Earlier this year, McConnell laughed off the president’s growing frustration by coyly noting Mr. Trump, a political neophyte, had “excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process.”

Many others of us have similarly “excessive” expectations, senator.

More recently, the self-satisifed McConnell has sneezed at a burgeoning conservative Republican insurgency whose de facto leader has become former Trump adviser Steve Bannon.

It’s rich that McConnell says, in response to Bannon’s pledge to challenge Republican incumbents next year, that “the people who win will be the ones who enact the president’s agenda” – when that agenda is caught in the clogged legislative drain in McConnell’s own office.

Mr. McConnell has been content, for instance, to plod along with the anachronistic filibuster rule that allows a Senate minority of 41 to block major legislation. He seems not to have noticed that Democrats have long ago declared war on all things Republican or bipartisan. Mr. McConnell is the embodiment of one cartoonist’s sardonic depiction of the “crack” Neville Chamberlain unit fighting tanks with umbrellas in World War II.

This has gone on so long now that Republicans appear ready to declare their own war on McConnell and the rest of the GOP establishment.

Enter Bannon.

He may not be a media darling, but he’s a tour-de-force, as illustrated by both Donald Trump’s election and Bannon’s own sweeping broadsides against the establishment at the recent Values Voter Summit. Trump may be the face of the new populism, but Bannon is the brains of it.

And he is marshaling the frustrated forces of conservatism against the complacent class in D.C.

“These folks are coming for you,” Bannon warned the establishment while speaking to the Values Voter Summit. “The day of (casting) a few nice conservative votes and hiding is over.”

“You guys,” he told conservatives, “have more common sense, more understanding of what we need to do, and more decency than the elites.”

We don’t know if Bannon can take on the establishment and win – though that will ultimately be up to voters.

But the establishment underestimates him, and continued voter unrest, at its own peril.

 

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