The Washington Times-Herald

Z_CNHI News Service

October 1, 2013

EDITORIAL: Money, media and apathy got us in this political mess

The Mankato Free Press / Mankato, Minn.

From the coffee shops to the pubs, Americans are frustrated their duly elected leaders can’t figure out how to operate our government in a reasonable way.

It may be no panacea for those folks, but it’s worth discussing how we let it get this far out of hand, out of control.

American democracy and its practice have changed a lot since the last government shutdown about two decades ago.

Political parties have become more susceptible to special interests, making it all the more difficult for citizens to have even an equal say. Money flows more easily into campaigns and individuals or small groups can now influence an election where once it required a large amount of people making small contributions.

Part of that influence has even driven court decisions in certain states that influence where congressional boundary lines are drawn. Critics argue the intransigence of the GOP House tea party movement is bolstered by more and more of these representatives coming from districts that are so dominated by one brand of political thought, the representatives have no worries about re-elections, sometimes for decades.

This kind of concentration of power without accountability also derails the old time power of political party leaders. One only needs to witness how little control Speaker John Boehner has over his tea party caucus to see how this has shifted the power of political party leaders, once key players in Washington. Often decried, these political leaders were sometimes necessary evils. They were key players because they knew how to work with the other side to get things for their members. Maybe it was a road project in their district, or a desirable committee assignment.

Those kind of power centers seem to be fading away quickly. The tools for some of that power wielding also have gone away, some say for the better. There are no more “earmarks.” While that kind of backdoor dealing was widely criticized, it often served a useful purpose for party leaders. We’ll bet Boehner wishes he had the power of earmarks today.

Text Only
Z_CNHI News Service
  • McCain 1 House Republicans are more active on Twitter than Democrats

    Your representative in the House is almost certainly on Twitter. Your senator definitely is. But how are they using the social network? Are Democrats more active than Republicans, or vice versa? Who has the most followers on the Hill?

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Do your genes make you procrastinate?

    Procrastinators, in my experience, like nothing better than explaining away their procrastination: General busyness, fear of failure, and simple laziness are just a handful of the excuses and theories often tossed around. Now researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder have added another option to the list: genetics.

    April 21, 2014

  • Do White Castle prices tell us anything about the minimum wage?

    The paper looked at how many delicious steamed sliders the minimum wage has been able to purchase over time. The point is that as it notes, in 1981, the $3.35 minimum could buy a whole dozen. Today, at $7.25, it could purchase just 10.

    April 21, 2014

  • VIDEO: Moose charges snowmobile, flees after warning shot

    While snowmobiling in New England, Bob and Janis Powell of Maine were charged by a moose and caught the entire attack on camera.

    April 21, 2014

  • Screen shot 2014-04-18 at 4.44.15 PM.png Paint, doodle and sketch: 3 apps for art lovers

    In the absence of a palette of watercolors and a sketchpad, these three apps can fill in as your art supplies of choice.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Smartphone kill switches are coming

    Smartphones need kill switches. It's a relatively easy solution to the pricey (and irritating) problem of smartphone theft. But who would have thought that the big carriers would team up with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and lots of other manufacturers to voluntarily begin adding the technology by July 2015? The cooperative spirit! It makes so much sense!

    April 18, 2014

  • Why do wolves howl?

    Of all the myths that dog the wolf, none is more widely accepted than the idea that wolves howl at the moon. Images of wolves with their heads upturned, singing at the night sky, are as unquestioned as a goldfish's three-second memory or a dog's color-blindness (both also myths).

    April 18, 2014

  • Biggest student loan profits come from grad students

    This week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would earn roughly $127 billion from student lending during the next 10 years.

    April 18, 2014

  • quake.jpg Pennsylvania won’t take action following Ohio ruling on quakes, fracking

    Pennsylvania officials plan no action despite new Ohio rules on drilling that affect a seismically active area near the state line.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Warren's populist pitch on student loans is off key

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren's populist rhetoric pumps up students about their loan burdens, but she conveniently neglects to mention the real problem - the exorbitant cost of college - much less how she's benefitted from those high prices.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo