In the hurly-burly of our political environment we often lose sight of and forget how things really work — or at least are supposed to work. As I’ve written before, the president gets too much credit when things are going well and too much blame when things aren’t going so well.
For example: When gasoline prices decline, the Republicans tout free-market enterprise. When gasoline prices rise, they blame President Barack Obama. Neither is correct.
Gasoline prices are set by oil commodities speculators around the world based on the price of oil they assign. An oil tanker might have its cargo value change three times between the Persian Gulf and the refinery.
Every dollar a president can spend has been appropriated by Congress. Every authority to act has been given to the president by Congress. Our system of government is built on the idea that Congress proposes and the president disposes. The Founding Fathers wanted the president and Congress to be partners, not antagonists, in the governing process. At the core of that partnership was the principle of compromise; in America, nobody gets their way all the time, but everyone gets some of their way most of the time.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says Obama does not have a plan to deal with unemployment. The fact is that Obama asked Congress to pass a bill that would create and save more than a million jobs. Congressman Paul Ryan, Romney’s running mate, rejected the plan in the House without debate.
The problem is not that the president has no plan, but that he has no partner. There are too few members of Congress willing to work with him and too many willing to use working-class Americans as pawns in partisan politics. Nothing speaks to this more than Sen. Mitch McConnell’s egregious commitment of the Republican Party to make its first priority the defeat of Obama. This commitment has been in practice since 2010 and has stalled anything beneficial to Americans and our country’s economic health.
What sort of people think this is good? How can elected officials thumb their noses at 310 million people to regain political power? What is their motive?
It is beyond craven, it is anti-social and anti-American. Compromise is a most cherished American value. The Republican Party has declared it will not honor that value.
So, in this election, it is not all about electing one man or another to be president. It is about whom we elect to Congress. This Congress achieved the dubious honor of having the lowest approval rating of any in history — 9 percent. That’s only slightly higher than friends and relatives of congressional members.
We the people must put in office those who are not corrupted by corporate money and/or political poison. If we are to retain our vigor as a nation, we must elect those who represent us, the 310 million who desire a government that works in our best interests, not in the interests of the corporations.
Turner is a retired teacher and industrial engineer who lives near Marble Falls. He is an independent columnist, not a staff member, and his views do not necessarily reflect those of The Tribune or its parent company. His books are available on Amazon.com: "Killing the Dream: America’s Flirtation With Third World Status" and "A Worm in the Apple: The Inside Story of Public Schools." He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.