The whole fiscal-cliff battle really demonstrated that our two political parties don’t get along these days. Neither of them seems willing to budge on anything, and the members of both parties even swear at each other and call each other things that usually only the voters call them. This distresses many people who say the parties need to learn to work together and agree on bipartisan solutions.
Are those people insane?
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine Republicans and Democrats getting along. They’d smile and laugh at each other’s jokes and pat each other on the back, and maybe John Boehner would make out with Nancy Pelosi… and then both parties would disappear into a back room to decide how to spend our money and what new government powers they should have. What a nightmare! We’d be completely defenseless.
Still, some say that the animosity between the parties keeps them from doing useful things, but these people are living in a fantasy world. When in history have politicians demonstrated an ability to do anything useful? When the two parties actually do come together, we get things like the TSA. Every time you get your junk touched before you get on a flight, you can just consider that bipartisan love.
Right now, politicians have the power to suddenly decide to tax us all at 100% and then spend the money replacing all of our roads with a high-speed rail system. What keeps them from doing that? Common sense? Come on, look at the morons we have in government — Congress is filled with idiots who couldn’t run a lemonade stand and who have grand visions to transform the nation. No, the only thing stopping them is that they’re divided into two parties who viscerally hate each other. If they ever got along, a big new government overreach like the Patriot Act or a giant boondoggle like Obamacare would be passed every couple weeks. By the end of the year, we’d have the government spying on our every movement as we lived flat broke in shanty towns, eating our government-allotted corn cob half we’d get every other day.
The separation of powers built into our Constitution was meant to prevent the government from going crazy with power, but that doesn’t really work. Too often, the executive and legislative branches work together on some harebrained scheme (“Let’s solve everything by minting a trillion-dollar coin!”). The Supreme Court is supposed to stop them, but the court is composed of nine of the greatest minds in our country, tasked to read and reread a six-page document, and they can’t even get that right half the time. We American citizens have nothing protecting us — except the two-party system. Playing half the government against the other half is the only thing keeping its power in check.
I bet the two-party system was thought up by the founding voters as the ultimate check on government power. They came up with the first two parties — the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans — and then made up some issues they pretended were important (I mean, really, a national bank? Who cares?) to keep the politicians fighting each other and thus slow the government’s growth. Some people say our two current parties are too much alike, but that’s the thing: The issues they espouse don’t matter. What’s important is that they hate each other.
That’s what we need to keep up. If we ever see the parties start to get along, we have to come up with some completely made-up issue to keep them fighting, like climate change. This may seem cruel, but it’s useful not to think of politicians as people — human beings don’t budget like that. And anyway, what else can we do to protect ourselves from government overreach? Yes, ideally the federal government shouldn’t have this much power, but that’s not the system we have. So right now we should hope for headlines about a bipartisan agreement that was broken up when the senators started to bite each other. Then we’ll know our country is safe.
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