If anyone hadn't noticed yet, we are in the midst of campaign season, when the attack ads and ridiculous Congressional antics are ripe and ready for the taking. Here are just a few great examples of what our lawmakers are up to at this most interesting time of year.
1. Really nothing new, except that this one bill has bipartisan support in the House. Shocking! It just happens to be a bill that will protect House members' own budgets from being cut. Yes, the one time our politicians can come together in support of something is when it only benefits themselves. Fantastic.
2. Republicans also fashioned and passed a bill that will defund major parts of Obama's immigration program. Funnily enough, the deportation rate under Obama has been a huge increase. Conservatives who constantly complain about immigration policy should be celebrating. Instead, they are demanding that these helpful programs be defunded. Really? Could this have anything to do with thwarting the success of the sitting President? Hmm...
3. In another bill affecting the DHS, Congress has passed a bil that limits the circumstances under which the ICE team can provide funding for immigrants to receive abortions. The bill would require ICE to deny abortion funding except in cases of rape, incest, and danger to the life of the mother. Here's the funny part: that's already the law. An ICE spokesperson said that, not only is this already the standard policy for ICE (and has been for quite some time), it has not been used to provide abortion funding since 2003. In other words, this is at least doubly a non-issue.
I bring up these examples to highlight the point that election-year politics has nothing to do with solving problems, and everything to do with defining positions on issues. These are three examples where the outcome of the bill that was passed have no impact or are completely ass backwards in their aims. Yet they have strong support because their writers and supporters want to draw their line in the sand. The GOP is going to end up drawing so many lines, they're going to box themselves in logically.
Consider the second example. The GOP has always been trying to look tough on immigration. Obama comes along, and really is tough on immigration. But the GOP needs to distance themselves from Obama, yet still maintain their earlier argument. So, they seek to defund the programs that are clearly working so that they can claim Obama is a failure on immigration, which is not even close to true. It's all about scoring political points with voters, which means even less will get done in Washington, and what does get done will be not only unhelpful, but downright harmful for the country as a whole.
It really bothers me that so many Americans will read these stories and hear about these votes from politicians and pundits, and not realize that it's complete political posturing. There's no work being done here. It's rewriting laws already on the books so that they look good for voting for them. They're acting like that idiot who tells the same joke over and over because everyone laughed the first time. And the reason it works is because the American attention span is such that we can never remember the punchline.