Is Washington broken?
It has become fashionable lately for those in the media as well as the political class to ponder over the question of whether or not our political system is “broken”. Most recently we have seen this in the course of the debate over whether or not (and by how much) to raise our country’s national debt ceiling. From the lowliest scribe all the way up to Obama himself, references to “broken” or “dysfunctional” government have been everywhere.
But are they right? Is government truly broken? In short, the answer is yes, but not in the sense that liberals would have everyone to believe.
Our federal government is not broken because of any recent events or failure to compromise and “get things done” on anyone’s part. The breakage came under the crush of everything that has been heaped upon a system that wasn’t designed to carry its present load.
For the last sixty to eighty years liberals have worked to make Washington the epicenter of American political life and the arbiter of whether or not and how anything and everything can be done. In the process the federal government has appropriated power to itself that it wasn’t constructed to handle, and that is why it is broken.
As far as our Constitution is concerned, the vast majority of what the federal government currently does was never intended to be handled by a single government. Most of those functions were meant to be handled more locally, that is on a state by state basis. It is worth pointing out that if the people who wrote our Constitution, living in a country of less than four million people, didn’t trust a single government to handle that much power, why would anyone trust it to do so for a nation of over three hundred million, (let alone think it could do a good job)?
As with most political questions, the answer is power, meaning liberals understand that they can’t win the day politically in fifty different state capitals, so they concentrate their fire on Washington and promote one-size-fits-all solutions to complex problems. Solutions that concentrate more power in the federal government.
The government “dysfunction” we hear so much about lately has nothing to do with the overextension of federal power (and its many failures), but rather it is a political complaint that is always directly proportional to how hard conservatives fight to keep Washington in check. And it is always attributed to a lack of willingness to compromise on the part of conservatives, not the other way around. The “compromises” however are always one sided – and always heading in the default direction of a bigger federal government in Washington. All of which only further breaks the system in reality.
But whenever conservatives suggest Washington shouldn’t do anything in particular, liberals and the media beat them over the head politically, suggesting that those mean old conservatives just don’t want “it” done, (whether it’s education, labor laws, etc.).
Of course, the only way to fix what has been broken is to return to an interpretation of our Constitution envisioned by our founders. But to do that you need large political majorities that understand what is at stake. Absent that, we’re left to wait for the system to go bankrupt.
The recent debate over our national debt limit and the inescapable mathematical fact that our country is speeding towards financial oblivion underlines the fact that things will change at some point. We are about to witness the dismantling of excessive big government liberalism due to simple financial realities. Just as the old USSR imploded under its own weight, and Greece is about to go bankrupt, the same fate awaits broken big government.
And when it truly “breaks”, the states will be there to pick up the pieces and retake much of the political power that enables us to have more control over our own destinies.
The question is not whether or not Washington is broken, but whether or not we will let it break us.