As the year draws to a close, and worries mount over the fiscal cliff that's staring us down next week, it's worth considering how we got ourselves into this position where things seem to be falling apart.
First of all, are things really as bad as they seem? It depends on who you listen to. Once you escape the American Media bubble, things look a whole lot better. In fact, some people are calling 2012 one of the best year's ever!
But it wasn't all fun and games. For one thing, we saw some very serious political dysfunction. Look at what's happening now, where politicians can't get out of their own way, can't seem to stick to one political opinion, and can't seem to figure out which way is up when it comes to our finances. And when I say politicians, I really am talking about Republicans (but I'm trying to be more neutral, for some reason). The problem, as many people have pointed out, is that Republicans have been going out of their way to be argumentative with the Obama administration and Democrats. Even when those groups agree to things that Republicans like and support (state-based health insurance exchanges, for example), Republicans backtrack and disagree with them. In the case of those exchanges, which are part of Obamacare, the result is that many conservative states are allowing the federal government to control their health insurance, when they could have done it themselves.
And what else has this led to? Why, a breakdown in talks over the fiscal cliff deal, of course! Normally, negotiations mean that two groups make concessions until they've reached a deal. In the case of the new Republican party, concessions are forgotten and a death-grip on core values is all that matters. When Boehner broke out of step with his party and crafted a plan that would have gotten us very close to a final deal, Republicans themselves shot it down. Now, even Republicans want their party back.
There's no sense in how the GOP is acting at this point, and there is no sense in believing they'll somehow snap out of it in time to save us from this fiscal cliff, or any of the other issues they've helped bring around (remember, they hold a majority in the House, and a filibuster in the Senate; anyone who says they're not part of the gridlock problem in Washington is either an idiot or a liar). All we can hope for is that, following this LAME duck session of Congress, there will be more movement on the national issues than we've seen recently.
Happy New Year (I hope).