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|Posté le: Lun 26 Juin - 09:40 (2017) Sujet du message: The Seinfeld Election III: Can The Center Hold? Centrifuga
Can Washington be salvaged?
Volumes I and II of The Seinfeld Election addressed some of the looming challenges that Washington has ignored or profoundly mishandled through the last two Presidencies, including a soaring national debt, unsustainable entitlements, and the inexorable rise of GHGs in the atmosphere. Kirkus Reviews praised these volumes as “astute,” “admirably evenhanded,” and “concise.” “Paepke is rigorous and persuasive.”
This final volume in the series attacks the root of the problem: rising partisanship and polarization in Washington. This trend is a marked and unwelcome departure from the long and proud tradition of achieving consensus through compromise for major initiatives. From the Marshall Plan and the Interstate Highway System through the Civil Rights Act, Medicare, the Reagan tax cuts, the 1983 rescue of Social Security, and welfare reform, Presidents sought and obtained bipartisan majorities in Congress. The last two Presidents have largely sought to ignore and circumvent opposing views in Congress. For its part, Congress is too often controlled by its most extreme members, from the Freedom Caucus on the right to Progressive Caucus and the Representative from Berkeley on the left.
Elections used to resolve impasses like this. They no longer decide anything. All but a dozen states are now solidly aligned with one party or the other, largely immune from national trends. Safe seats in Congress are effectively filled in the primaries, by a relative handful of party activists. Presidential primaries are also favoring fringes at the expense of mainstream candidates. General elections have become crabbed and tawdry affairs, fought over personalities and decided by ground games and attack ads. Contrast the national embarrassment of the 2016 campaign with the Carter-Reagan, Reagan-Mondale, and Bush-Clinton campaigns, which clearly and respectfully shaped the direction of the nation.
The result has been a pattern of failure and futility. Real economic growth per capita in the 21st Century has been barely one third of the post-War average. Social Security is within 18 years of being unable to meet its retirement obligations, compared to 39 years when President Bush(43) took office. The national debt has quadrupled to levels not seen since the aftermath of WWII. Income taxes have been a political yo-yo, down with Bush, up with Obama, and now presumably down again with Trump. Likewise, climate change policy, with Gore a champion of Kyoto, which Bush withdrew from, followed by Obama going it alone on the Paris Agreement, which will get no respect from EPA Administrator Pruitt. Polarization and partisanship have served the nation badly.
Partisans on both sides, and especially the huge number of voters trapped in the middle, understand that America cannot go on like this. The Seinfeld Election: Can the Center Hold? offers original analysis of the problem plus a fresh perspective on the possible solutions.
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