How many times have you heard someone say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?
Of course, that is not the real definition, and this sentiment is one of the most overly used clichés. As we watched our federal government struggle to find a pathway out of our most recent “partial government shutdown,” I can’t help but feel we are witnessing some sort of mass insanity that has crippled our nation.
I know most mental health professionals would cringe when I appear to treat mental illness with callous disregard. That is not my intent. However, there will be a moment during almost every modern American political crisis when we expect a politician, paid pundit or member of the “free press” to utter the aforementioned cliché. Some will bypass the line, simply look at the opposition, cut to the chase, and call them insane.
Why not? It marginalizes your opponent, makes you feel like you have the superior position, and in some odd way helps you rationalize what you believe to be irrational (someone else’s opinion). What other excuse could there be for someone to have an absolutely different opinion than yours? Surely, you can’t be the illogical person. They must be crazy. This is a cop out, an easy sidestep so you don’t have to acknowledge the reality there may be validity to both your point and the point of your opponent.
We have just come off a 30-plus day shutdown, only to find ourselves with a temporary reprieve, with another possible shutdown looming Feb. 15. So now is the time for me to use the second most annoying cliché out of D.C., “kicking the can down the road.” Doing the same thing over and over again may not be the definition of insanity, but it sure is nuts.
If this sounds familiar, it is. We have been here before, I have written about shutdowns several times in the past (two examples: https://tinyurl.com/federalthugocracy and https://tinyurl.com/pandapolitics), which means, sadly, I am repeating the same thing, while expecting a different result. However, I am going to remain consistent and repeat what we know is true: a shutdown is a failure to govern, which leads us to D.C.’s favorite pastime, the blame game. However, what would the blame game be without its spectators, you and me?
Everyone tasked with “running” our federal government is to blame. Trump, Congress, federal bureaucrats, Republicans, Democrats and outside interests who only serve to aggravate the situation. If you don’t think Trump is partially to blame for this situation, you are wrong. If you think this situation was entirely of Trump’s making, you are wrong as well. Do you know exactly what funding resolutions “our government” was going to be voting on before Dec. 22, 2018, just before the shutdown? It wasn’t a budget.
Prior to Dec. 22, the Senate, House and Trump all agreed to pass and sign a temporary funding measure that would have kept the government open until early February (a 2-month extension). This after two temporary appropriations bills were passed in early September 2018 (which were referred to as “minibuses,” a play on the term omnibus, used to describe a massive spending bill). This funding measure only funded the federal government until Dec. 6. See a trend here? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
Dec. 6 came and went, as expected. Like the fools we are, we hoped for a different outcome. We hoped egos would be cast aside, and somehow our representatives would do their job. On Dec. 7, Congress passed another resolution to fund the government until Dec. 21. Doing the same thing over and over…
It was argued the shutdown amounted to the “hostage-taking” of our civil servants. Not really. Our entire nation is being held hostage by the idiocy of those we sent to D.C. to serve us. There is no rational explanation, and no one person is to blame, we have all contributed to this failure. We watch our federal government do the same thing over and over, expecting different results. As my father used to say, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!” We may not be insane, but we are fools. There really is only one solution.
Our federal government is broken, and it is time to return more responsibility to the states, as was the original intent when our nation was founded. I am not talking “a revolution,” but returning to a governmental model that works best, where solutions are closer to the problems. This latest chaos proves again that a far off, distant central government eventually becomes a single point of failure, no longer a government empowered by “We the People…,” but a behemoth controlled by bickering children. Redundancy may work for NASA, but when applied to government, it becomes confusing and self-serving for those at the seat of power. This latest shutdown has proven again that the larger the government, the smaller the citizen.
So what is the real definition of insanity? “Insanity, a noun. A mental illness of such a severe nature that a person cannot distinguish fantasy from reality, cannot conduct her/his affairs due to psychosis, or is subject to uncontrollable impulsive behavior.” If this doesn’t describe D.C., then I don’t know what does.