ust when you thought Washington couldn’t get any messier, our elected officials in the nation’s capital prove it can.
Case in point: impeachment.
There’s a lot of talk out there about impeaching President Barack Obama for what his detractors contend is illegal action he has taken on implementation of the Affordable Care Act. And congressional Republicans will be yelling foul again when he takes unilateral action on immigration in the coming weeks.
While we’ve underestimated politicians’ ability to engage in self-destructive activity in the past, it’s hard to believe that GOP lawmakers will mount an impeachment effort against the president. For one thing, it will be a hard sell to the general public and provide a carnival sideshow during the mid-term elections.
In fact, our guess is that Democrats who are concerned about hanging onto control of the Senate would like nothing better than to see a serious impeachment effort. The political repercussions might well be strong enough to ensure that the GOP doesn’t take control of the Upper Chamber.
Decisions made on the November ballot should be about how opposing candidates view issues and governance, not simply a litmus test on whether the candidate is for or against impeaching the president. And if the House were able to impeach Obama, there’s little chance that the Senate would convict, even if the Senate vote came in 2015 and the GOP had managed to acquire a slim majority.
The problem facing our federal government is the inability to reach a consensus. With few exceptions, actions that are taken in Congress these days contain poison pills that one side know the other won’t accept. It’s easy for Republicans to blame Democrats and for Democrats to blame Republicans, but the fact is both sides engage in the practice and have adopted the attitude that compromise means the other side acquiescing altogether.
Sadly, it looks to be an attitude that is settling in for the long haul. These are decisions being made by people who worry about jobs — theirs. Our nation’s population is split just as badly, and these folks are going to do what they have to in order to preserve their political base. We’ve already seen this year what can happened to lawmakers thought to be entrenched in their leadership positions when they don’t pay attention to the people who elected them.
You hear a lot of talk about how the “system is broken.” The fact is, the system of government is fine. It has worked well for more than two centuries. What’s not working are the people who we are choosing to operate the system.
It’s a classic case of user error. Until we fix that, expect more of the same.
— The Albany Herald Editorial Board