Insightful political analysis is difficult to come by, but I found this recent episode of NPR’s Fresh Air particularly interesting for its observations about the Republican party and its current leadership (or lack thereof). Especially notable is the observation that redistricting, which is obviously beneficial in guaranteeing local races, may be harmful to the Republican party’s construction of a national agenda – one that can appeal to a larger demographic and moderates, both necessary requirements to win the presidency.
Another interesting topic considered is the consequences of government paralysis. When I was growing up, my Dad argued that split control of the government was actually a good thing as it kept government from accomplishing too much and acted as a balancer toward both parties. Surprisingly, he felt that this was true even when a Republican was president. Although we often disagree on politics these days, I actually think this is a good point if it was forcing moderate compromises – such as immigration reform in the Senate. Instead we have a government that can’t get anything done (unless there is a problem that affects the Congressmen personally such as repealing sequester related cuts for air traffic controllers). The 113th Congress is on track to be the least productive in modern US history. That might sound good to some conservatives and libertarians already distrustful of government, but in actuality it results in greater government dysfunction as well as a nation that can’t respond to global and domestic economic conditions. Ultimately, this is bad for everyone regardless of party affiliation, race, income level, etc. I will elaborate on this argument in a future post on global economic competition.
As a bonus, Planet Money recently broadcast one of their episodes from 2012 tracing the history of the filibuster in the Senate and why Jimmy Stewart is an arch villain when it comes to political deadlock in Washington DC. I found it to be an entertaining and informative piece of journalism.