I don’t think Congress has passed a meaningful law since the
beginning of the year. That’s eight months! Good gracious alive, I know what we
should be thinking, “Why are we paying them?”
Has the world come to a stop? Are all the good laws already
on the books? Can this group not think of anything else we might need?
It just seems like an inordinately expansive time for so
many to do so little…
And I know they are “proposing” some big stuff right now
that will “benefit every person: young or old, rich or poor, short or tall,
native born or just moved in, conservative or libertarian, Sagittarian or
Methodist… “ We’ve been getting that same promise from Congress since 1789.
But talking is always the easy part.
You’d at least think some senator would want a bridge built
down in the southeast corner of his state… where he didn’t get many votes in
the last election. Or the congressman from the Bend, Oregon, district would
pass some legislation giving tax breaks to the Windsurfing Industry… for the
It just doesn’t seem natural that our national lawmakers
aren’t making any laws.
But let’s not be hasty here. Or thoughtless.
Will Rogers back in the 1920s, after noting the headlines in
the papers of the day read, “Congress is deadlocked and can’t act,” declared
“Why, this could be the greatest thing that ever happened to us!”
Will might have humorously hit the nail on the head. He was
“thinking out loud” that maybe no legislation is better than faulty
’Course that begs the question, is there any legislation
“out there” that would please us all? America, by nature and design, has always
been a diverse collection of folks.
And, as pointed out by Will’s astute observation from a
century past, this is a timeless question. This story today could be completely
relevant in most any decade since John C. Calhoun threatened to take his state
out of the Union because he didn’t like Andrew Jackson.
It’s quite possible that this current group of lawmakers is
simply “carrying on an old family tradition.”
I know we think they’ve taken it to new heights; surely at
no time in our long and distinguished history could it have been this bad! But
I bet dollars to donuts that’s exactly what our grandfathers thought during the
darkest throes of The Great Depression.
I can remember as a boy hanging out at Bill Argo’s Gulf
Station listening to the enlightened men of the day discussing the political
situation. They would be furious with Eisenhower and Congress if hog prices
dropped a few cents a pound. I don’t ever remember them applauding Ike or
Congress when the prices went up.
Human nature I guess.
I used to sit on a “turned up on its side” Coca-Cola case in
the corner of that small service station office and wonder if those Congress
people actually owned any hogs. It just didn’t seem logical to my 10-year-old
mind to vote on something that you didn’t know nothing about.
’Course, I also thought wrestling was real, Mighty Mouse
could “save the day” and warts were caused by frogs croaking on your hand.
We simple folks today blame our problems on Democrats and
Republicans. It used to be Federalist and Anti-Federalist, Whigs and Know
Nothings. We even had a Greenback Party once; I think their main platform was
if the government needed more money, just print it…
And if you think we’ve got some fancy orators today, you
should have heard William Jennings Bryan or Senator Robert La Follette shell
down the corn. Those guys could sell you on the immediate need to build a
government sponsored railroad from Nome, Alaska, to Sitka, Russia… and explain
in very plausible terms how it would “immediately and forever” benefit every
constituent in West Tennessee, North Alabama and South Florida.
If Teddy Roosevelt had a’had CNN or Fox News to springboard
his ideas… we’d have a national forest, park or monument in every state,
village, inlet or wide-spot-in-the-road in America!
Maybe it is a little tougher to be in politics today. We
sure know more about some of our Congress people’s personal lives than we want
to, or need to. And it is a bit tiring to see the same old faces pointing the
same old fingers and singing the same old political refrains newscast after
Will Rogers famously quipped on several occasions, “I’m
supposed to be a humorist… but all I really do is watch Congress and report the
He also, a little more under the radar, said of Congress,
“We are continually buying something that we never get, from a man that never
Maybe we ought to rethink this current hiatus…