THE STARTING GUN

The Septuagenarian Speaks – published January 16, 2019, Siskiyou Daily News

If you have witnessed a track or cross-country meet, you know that the running events traditionally begin by the starter firing a gun.  The starting gun is usually a small revolver that shoots blanks. If a runner crosses the starting line prematurely it is a false start.  When that happens, the race is cancelled by the starter who immediately fires a second shot.  The offending runner is disqualified from the race, and the race is re-started.  The obvious purpose of this tradition is to ensure the integrity of the race.  It is not fair to the other runners, to the spectators, or to anyone with a stake in the race, if the outcome is tainted. 

The starting gun scenario may metaphorically describe what looks like the next two years of American government dysfunction and lack of civility.  Unfortunately, the government starter didn’t fire the second shot.

We are only into the first week of the new congressional term, and there have been false starts aplenty.  Neither Congress nor the Executive Branch demonstrates the same honorable tradition as track and cross-country.  Although the Senate still has a Republican majority, the House now has a substantial Democratic majority.  Newcomers and veterans of both parties are anxious to jump across the starting line in search of glory.  Some examples.

On her first night as a member of the House of Representatives, new Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib said of Donald Trump, “We’re gonna go in there and we’re gonna impeach the mother****er.”

And then there is new Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is, well … Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  (“… all three chambers of Congress – uh, rather, all three chambers of government: the presidency, the Senate, and the House …” and that followed by, “…No question … Trump is a racist.”)

On a less-colorful but nevertheless significant level, the first day of the new session Representative Steve Cohen, a Democrat from Tennessee, introduced a Constitutional Amendment to eliminate the Electoral College and provide for the direct election of the President and Vice President of the United States.  This of course isn’t in the same category as the profanity-laced, asinine antics of Tlaib and Ocasio-Cortez.  The existence and workings of the Electoral College have been fair topics of debate and discussion throughout the history of our constitutionally-based government.  But Cohen’s opening gambit is another example demonstrating that our elected officials are not interested in doing what the taxpayers pay them to do, which is to govern.  

Even if the starter fired the second shot it probably wouldn’t make any difference.  For the next two years the federal government will do nothing but shoot blanks.  It’s a good thing they are blanks, because the only thing that the members of Ocasio-Cortez’s “three chambers of government” will be doing will be shooting at each other.  The House will attempt to impeach Trump.  If it does, the Senate won’t convict him.  In any event, the process will take at least two years.  The Democrats should just vote him out of office in 2020 (if they can just find someone worthy to run against him).

Our government is an embarrassment.  Our elected officials should be trying to get real work done, but they won’t have time.  They will be too busy shooting at each other, and making ridiculously stupid, not to mention profane, statements.  Would you want your kid or grandkid to be an intern?  There was once a time when it was a great honor for a young person to be a congressional intern.  For that matter, there was once a time when every parent had aspirations for their kid to become President of the United States.

Note:  I wrote this article this morning (Tuesday), but hadn’t yet sent it to Skye Kinkade, the Siskiyou Daily News editor.  A few minutes ago, I watched President Trump’s eight-minute speech from the Oval Office regarding border security.  I thought it was powerful and, uncharacteristic for Trump, didn’t veer off-script.  It will be interesting to see if anything changes as a result.  Don’t hold your breath.

Bob Kaster
Yreka, California

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