But both parties are not rotten in quite the same way. The Democrats have their share of machine politicians, careerists, corporate bagmen, egomaniacs and kooks. Nothing, however, quite matches the modern GOP.
To those millions of Americans who have finally begun paying attention to politics and watched with exasperation the tragicomedy of the debt ceiling extension, it may have come as a shock that the Republican Party is so full of lunatics. To be sure, the party, like any political party on earth, has always had its share of crackpots, like Robert K. Dornan or William E. Dannemeyer. But the crackpot outliers of two decades ago have become the vital center today: Steve King, Michele Bachman (now a leading presidential candidate as well), Paul Broun, Patrick McHenry, Virginia Foxx, Louie Gohmert, Allen West. The Congressional directory now reads like a casebook of lunacy.
It was this cast of characters and the pernicious ideas they represent that impelled me to end a nearly 30-year career as a professional staff member on Capitol Hill. A couple of months ago, I retired; but I could see as early as last November that the Republican Party would use the debt limit vote, an otherwise routine legislative procedure that has been used 87 times since the end of World War II, in order to concoct an entirely artificial fiscal crisis. Then, they would use that fiscal crisis to get what they wanted, by literally holding the US and global economies as hostages.
Writing on the nonprofit sit Truthout, Mike Lofgren offers his “inside take” on the current state of the GOP.
Inside being a relative term, Lofgren says he retired on June 17 after working for 28 years as a Congressional staffer on the Republican side of both the House and Senate Budget Committees. Seems pretty inside to me.
While I would like to see a similar take from a Democratic insider, Lofgren’s essay is enlightening and eye-opening… Frankly it makes me feel better in that there just might be a concerted effort and that the precipitous decline over the past 10+ years isn’t happenstance or bad luck.
Anyway, no good comes of me being political…
You can view Lofgren’s salary data going back to 2000 here on LegiStorm, which bills itself as transparency’s sidekick and is “a sister company to Storming Media, a company supplying a wide range of technical, policy and strategy papers from the Pentagon, and PatentStorm, a searchable database of millions of US patents.”