Voters have no clue how to solve the nation’s problems
Americans have made it crystal clear they haven’t a clue what to do about the nation’s problems, writes syndicated columnist Ann McFeatters.
After the world’s most expensive election — $4 billion — Americans have made it crystal clear they haven’t a clue what to do about the nation’s problems.
This is how we, the electorate, are being described: sour, dyspeptic, demoralized, disgusted, rebellious, frustrated, resentful, angry.
Americans overwhelmingly want the $7.25 hourly minimum wage raised. They don’t think it’s fair that fast-food workers, for example, are paid an average of $8.90 an hour and can’t afford to take care of their families while fast-food workers in Denmark get $20 an hour.
But Americans have just elected a passel of Republicans adamantly opposed to raising the minimum wage, arguing it is counterproductive. For them, a rising tide does not lift all boats.
Americans are frightened by the wave of gun violence, particularly in and around schools. They want more controls on gun registration.
But they just swept into office a bunch of Republicans who have pledged to fight such restrictions as tougher background checks.
The people of this nation are worried about climate change, which will make the Midwest arid, coastal cities flood-prone and extreme weather more extreme. They want clean water and air. But they have just given the nod to a herd of Republicans who deny climate science and want environmental restrictions eased.
Americans believe the immigration system is broken. They want reform, something between amnesty and ignoring the plight of 11 million undocumented workers, always subject to deportation, who pay taxes, pay into Social Security and rear children who know no country but the United States.
We just elected a Republican Congress that has vowed not to work with President Obama on immigration. Although non-Hispanic whites soon will be a minority, Republicans want to make voting more restrictive.
Americans approve of much of Obama’s health-care program. Millions more people now are covered by health insurance, and those with pre-existing conditions can’t be denied coverage. But the nation just elected a majority of Republicans who want to repeal Obamacare without explaining what would take its place.
Americans want peace, harmony and action to solve problems such as joblessness, wage disparity and crumbling infrastructure. They want less dysfunction in Washington. But they elected the largest Republican majority in the U.S. House in decades and gave control of the Senate to the GOP to continue sparring with a Democratic White House.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, certain to be elected majority leader and thus able to schedule votes and set the agenda, said six years ago his top goal was to make Obama a one-term president. In effect, he vowed to block Obama’s success.
McConnell now says Washington’s gruesome polarization doesn’t rule out action “where we agree.” He also said, in effect, to Obama, “Hey, buddy. Don’t think I’m going to change my agenda just because you have two more years in office.”
Then we have Texas tea-partier Teddy Cruz, who once conducted a filibuster reading “Green Eggs and Ham” and engineered a government shutdown while later denying it. The senator vows hearings designed to shred Obama to pieces. More Benghazi! More on Obama’s “lawlessness.” More time spewing hatred for Obamacare.
So we have an obstinate Obama trying desperately to build a legacy in his final stretch in office versus stubborn Republicans determined to tear it down.
It’s as if the entire nation solemnly pledged on election night to get fit and healthy by the holidays — after finishing up all the leftover Halloween candy.
McConnell said the good news is that those nasty, endless campaign ads are over. More than $430 million was spent on TV ads on just 10 Senate races.
But, guess what? This is the start of the presidential race of 2016. Hillary Clinton! Rand Paul! Chris Christie! Joe Biden! Scott Walker! Jeb Bush! John Kasich! Dark horses galore! Apparently, we haven’t punished ourselves enough.
Let’s hope the new crop of Republicans comes to town to help govern, not fight.
Ann McFeatters has covered the White House and national politics since 1986. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.