What's Wrong with Congress

Andrew Bacevich's interview with Bill Moyers is an interesting and enlightening discussion of how we got into our current political predicament. Bacevich is a retired Army colonel, and a conservative in the real sense of the term. Here's one part of the interview that I thought hit the nail on the head:

The Congress, especially with regard to matters related to national security policy, has thrust power and authority to the executive branch. We have created an imperial presidency. The congress no longer is able to articulate a vision of what is the common good. The Congress exists primarily to ensure the reelection of members of Congress.

and this:

BILL MOYERS: Here is what I take to be the core of your analysis of our political crisis. You write, "The United States has become a de facto one party state. With the legislative branch permanently controlled by an incumbent's party. And every President exploiting his role as Commander in Chief to expand on the imperial prerogatives of his office."

ANDREW BACEVICH: One of the great lies about American politics is that Democrats genuinely subscribe to a set of core convictions that make Democrats different from Republicans. And the same thing, of course, applies to the other party. It's not true. I happen to define myself as a conservative.

Well, what do conservatives say they stand for? Well, conservatives say they stand for balanced budgets. Small government. The so called traditional values.

Well, when you look back over the past 30 or so years, since the rise of Ronald Reagan, which we, in many respects, has been a conservative era in American politics, well, did we get small government?

Do we get balanced budgets? Do we get serious as opposed to simply rhetorical attention to traditional social values? The answer's no. Because all of that really has simply been part of a package of tactics that Republicans have employed to get elected and to - and then to stay in office.

and this about the 2006 election, where Democrats promised to end the Iraq War:

BILL MOYERS: And you say the promises of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi prove to be empty. Reid and Pelosi's commitment to forcing a change in policy took a backseat to their concern to protect the Democratic majority.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Could anybody disagree with that?

This blog is devoted to understanding one Congressional district. In the three years I've been writing here, I have been surprised to see how much power Congress has ceded to the President. The most unpopular President in modern history has been able to manipulate Congress because each party in Congress, as Bacevich says, is mainly concerned with maintaining its majority.

The whole interview is worth watching.


Each political party panders to their own set of people - Teacher's unions, evangelists, progressives, conservatives, and on and on and on and on. The government cannot be all things to all people and expect not to run up trillions of dollars of debt