It doesn't matter which party gets a majority in the House or the Senate, not much is going to change in the way government runs. Will we stop unconstitutional programs? No. Will we cut wasteful spending? No. Why? Because our representatives do exactly what we want them to do.
I'm writing this post on election day, before the polls close, with breath baited beyond anything that has ever been baited before. Democrats pontificate that it's high time for a change, and so that's why they're going to take over the House and Senate. Republicans tout the recent improvement in poll numbers to prognosticate that they're going to win.
Maybe they will, maybe they won't. It's all very entertaining, the conservative pundits punding and the liberal news organizations editorializing--and we get vignettes about Mark Foley and John Kerry absolutely free(!), but you know what? It really doesn't matter. But this thought occurs to me as I think of the intelligence and alacrity of the average American voter:
“Perhaps the fact that we have seen millions voting themselves into complete dependence on a tyrant has made our generation understand that to choose one’s government is not necessarily to secure freedom.” —Fredrich August von HayekWe don't have a tyrant yet. But we do have dependence. And we vote ourselves into more and more of it.
Robert Samuelson captures the essence of why it doesn't matter in his editorial in the Washington Post. Synthesis: We get what we want when we vote. And we want things that, due to their contrast, shouldn't be wanted by the same person at the same time. Boiled down to its essence, our representatives do what we tell them to. We have met our representatives, and they are us. We get further and further toward nowhere because we haven't the ability to hold our representatives responsible to do their jobs well. We enjoy--and thus we have become a part of--the circus.
When asked if the government is wasteful when it comes to spending, nearly everyone says yes. But nearly no one can agree that the spending for some of the most wasteful programs should be cut.
It doesn't matter whether we are Republican or Democrat when it comes to most issues. We want Congress to reduce spending, but we must have our Community Development Block Grants, Educational Grants, Social Security, and Medicare. The two opinions are diametrically opposed.
We have become so enamored with a two-party system that we perceive only two options: (1) if the Democrats are in power, let's throw the bums out and put the republicans in, and (2) if the Republicans are in power, let's throw the bums out and put the Democrats in.
Do we ever stop to think that it doesn't make much difference at all? There's not even 8 cents worth of difference between the two major parties, yet we campaign and debate and argue like it makes all the difference in the world.
The problem is not them. It is us. Our problem has the potential of becoming a never-ending cycle of (1) Claiming that the current bums in office have failed, and (2) voting in a new set of bums with the chimerical hope that something will change, until finally (1) happens all over again. Until we decide that we want government to limit itself to its proper role, not much will change. Government is what we make of it and nothing else. We deserve nothing better.