An embarrassment of riches with even more embarrassing results

An embarrassment of riches with even more embarrassing results

This time a year ago we were flying down the home stretch of what turned out to be a wave election.  In the wee morning hours of Election Night, the GOP candidate ultimately won the Electoral College vote count for the Presidency and his party made substantial gains in a wave that extended far down ticket.  Not only did the GOP candidate win, the Congressional GOP resoundingly reaffirmed their majorities in both bodies on Capitol Hill.  It most certainly was a wave election here in Oklahoma.  The OK GOP outright won more contested legislative seats, many with very lopsided numbers against very good candidates, than most can recall in the history of the state.  When the 56th Oklahoma Legislature was sworn in back in January, the OK GOP held 76 out of 101 seats in the House and 42 of 48 seats in the Senate.  Oh, and there was still a Republican in the Governor’s Mansion.  By any reasonable standard it would safe to say that on November 8th, 2016 the Republican Party, both state and national, was bestowed with all the blessings in terms of votes that it could possibly handle.  How could anyone wielding such power entrusted to them by the voters not write their own ticket with such a treasure trove, a genuine embarrassment of riches?  So how have they fared with all this power?  Thus far they have failed to capitalize on much of that justly won electoral wealth.

What motivates and inspires a person to run for public office?  With many career driven and goal oriented individuals there is a significant element of narcissism, an almost inherent need to have their desirability validated.  Popularity, particularly with charismatic high profile public people, is a suitable metric.  For them there are few things more gratifying than to be declared the winner of an election after the polls close and the votes are counted.  There are fewer things as uniquely American as being a democratically elected legislator, administrator or chief executive.  Getting elected is a huge milestone on someone’s resume, but what then?  I vividly remember back in high school the cheerleading squad had a very democratic method of selecting its members.  Each candidate showed their cheerleading moves before the entire student body in an all-school assembly and then all students were dismissed to their respective homerooms to vote for who they thought was best.  There were two guys who very popular and were elected outright on the first ballot.  Both of them, once voted onto the squad, immediately resigned!  They then seemed to take pride in letting everyone know that to them it was only an exercise in ego satiation.

More than a few times this year I have been left with the impression that a lot of the GOP legislators in Oklahoma and in Congress got the ego inflation part of getting elected down but seem to have disconnected with duties of the job for which they worked so hard to earn.  One thing I see notably absent is anything resembling a unifying, competent leadership.  Those in charge seem to lack the essential qualities of inspiration, fact based decision making and an ability to earn public trust.  Most importantly there seems to be a total lack of accountability.  I have heard a lot of excuses as to why we still have a persisting revenue failure and are unable to fix a $215 million hole in our state budget.  I am getting weary of the majority party trying to saddle the minority party with all blame for this broken government.  I am dead serious when I pose the query “Where DOES the buck stop?  Who really IS in charge?”  It is one thing to be drunk with power and use it with purpose moving toward a clearly delineated end.  It is another thing to be drunk with power and to squander ever opportunity to use it to effect useful public policy.  And it is another thing to be drunk with power and to willfully and wantonly destroy public agencies and regulating entities with neglect or staffing them with directors whose values and experience are antithetical or alien to them.

So what does say about the true character of the Republican Party, that which lives behind the charm of the campaign posters, that which has been on full display as the GOP-led Congress and Oklahoma Legislature muddles through from one debacle after another, in regular or special session?  What do Republicans stand for in 2017?  Other than the Neil Gorsuch Supreme Court appointment, The Congress has not been able to pass any real milestone legislation or at least anything that would qualify as a legislative “win” for their President.  In Oklahoma, the Legislature has been unable to pass a budget.  They could not get it done in regular session and had to be called into special session.  Thus far they have not produced a budget to cover all the state’s bills.  For all their touting themselves “the party of fiscal responsibility” they have a very odd fixation with insolvency such that they deserve the moniker of “the party of fiscal dereliction.”  What is even more mind-boggling is there is a core segment of GOP supporters who still believe their party and their President can do no wrong.  In fact their indicator for whether or not policies or Presidential executive orders pass muster is by the degree of indignation and outrage they illicit from Democrats, liberals or anyone on the political left.  Bill Maher articulated this phenomenon well in the New Rules segment of his HBO show Real Time a couple of months ago:

“Ten years ago ‘trolls’ weren’t even a thing, or if they were we had a different word…..’sadist.’  Now they run the country.  And by run it I mean can’t and won’t!”—Bill Maher, August 11th, 2017

New Rule:  The Troll Party

For the here and now the GOP, top to bottom state and national, is an organization that is being defined by ineptitude in governance.  It may remain to be seen if the Democrats can produce results better than any we have seen this year but this is one absolute certainty, they certainly could not do much worse!

2 Comments

  1. Grace Weber
    Oct 16, 2017

    Very well stated. Carl stated exactly how and why we have this mess. The people. Being lazy and not following what is happening in their local community let alone state or federal. Then not showing up to vote. Then they stupidly irrationally get angry and vote for a dangerous person like Trump.

  2. Carl A.
    Oct 15, 2017

    “There are fewer things as uniquely American as being a democratically elected legislator, administrator or chief executive.”

    And as long as unique Americans continue to uniquely vote for unique idiots as their uniquely elected representatives, the incompetence, ineptitude and irresponsibility will continue apace… the fault, dear cousin, lies not in the process, but deep within the electorate itself.

    People are nuts, and when you’re insane you’ll vote for anybody who tweaks your interest the most, regardless of whether they are competent to do the job (or whether it needs to be done, at all). Because that’s NOT WHY YOU VOTE.

    You don’t give a paddywhack about all that noise – the only thing you care about is sticking your spoke in the wheels, just to see what happens when everything grinds to a screeching halt…

    And when the non-silent majority no longer gives a crap, then why should the people they elect into office care, either?

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