So why are you running for the House?

Partisans and ideologues frequently puzzle me. Their thoughts follow patterns that take some work to figure out. Just when you think you have them figured out, they say something else that makes me go, “Huh?”

Take this curious fund-raising appeal from Chad Prosser:

The U.S. House passed 28 pro-jobs bills last year that would help get government out of the way and free up investor capital to start and expand more businesses. 28. Yet, every single one of these bills sits in the Senate waiting for a vote. While Americans wait for free-market reforms to help get the economy moving, Senate Democrats wait to vote on the very bills that will help our innovators do what they do best.

I’m a conservative reformer who understands how to get things done. I’ve created jobs in my own business. Under Gov. Mark Sanford, I brought efficiency to the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism and turned around a financially ailing State Park system, improving service while reducing the operational burden on taxpayers. Today, our state park service is one of the most self-sufficient in the nation. As a businessman, I understand the tough decisions that businesses have to make every day to survive the constant barrage of overreaching regulations and taxation from Washington.

I will take that knowledge and experience with me to Congress, where I will fight for conservative reforms that reduce government so that our economy can grow and our nation can prosper. All Americans succeed when government gets out of the way so job creators have the ability to invest in the future. Will you join with me? Donate $10 to the campaign today.

Let’s suppose you buy into this view of the world — that the anti-tax, anti-government propositions of the new, Tea-Party-flavored Republican part are inherently and indisputably “pro-job bills.” Take that as given.

What, then, is the point of running for the House? The House is already adhering to this agenda. The “problem” is in the Senate. So, run for the Senate. Oh, you say that both senators are Republican, and therefore not part of the problem? OK, then don’t run for office at all. There’s nothing you can do to change the equation. If this is your rationale for running, your campaign is pointless.

That’s the way a sensible person would look at it.

But to understand what he’s saying, you have to be one of these people who buy into today’s hyperpartisan polarization as an end in itself. Which both parties do.

The point of introducing legislation under their way of looking at things is to say that you introduced it, then to blame the other side for not passing it, and use that to enrage your base so that you can motivate them to give money so that you can keep the machine of never-ending conflict going.

The point is not to achieve a goal; it’s to keep fighting. And so it is that the country never makes progress in any direction.

Disgusting, isn’t it?

15 thoughts on “So why are you running for the House?

  1. `Kathryn Fenner

    One difference is that the shrunken-government-bathtub-drowners succeed when they simply gum up the works. Progressives genuinely want their legislation passed.

  2. Brad

    Yes, that would be logical — that those who believe in government would be more about getting government to do certain things.

    And it’s true, to a certain extent. I think Democrats get more frustrated by gridlock than Republicans, who more actively enjoy it.

    But… that doesn’t stop the Democrats from using gridlock just as enthusiastically as the Republicans. I hear from them multiple times every day, ranting about the latest GOP “outrage” in order to get their own base to give money and keep the whole thing going.

    And the EFFECT is the same — the fund-raising imperative leads to the CONSTANT, drip, drip, drip, demonization of the opposition, which increasingly makes it impossible for anyone on either side to work with anyone on the other side without being denounced as a traitor. And nothing ever gets better.

  3. Brad

    Here’s another curious thing… there is no indication which congressional seat Mr. Prosser is running for, either in this release, or on the landing page of his website.

    You may notice that the web page doesn’t mention South Carolina, either.

    This, too, is indicative of the illness that afflicts our national politics. Everyone today speaks in terms of the balance of power in Washington, that it’s all about whether Democrats or Republicans dominate.

    This leads to the absurdity, which I often rail about here, of SC politicians spending time and treasure interfering in elections in other states that are none of their business.

    In a rational world, the matter of whom a district in another state sends to Congress is not the business of anyone outside that district.

    But in this sick environment that we have now, everyone acts like it’s their business, and all that matters is the partisan balance in D.C. (For my part, I wouldn’t give two cents to tilt that balance either way.)

    Under these conditions, everything is nationalized. Everything is about the eternal conflict in Washington, which is all voters hear about on 24/7 TV “news,” and increasingly from other media as well. Everyone, from the candidates to the voters, is trained to think in terms of EVERYTHING in terms of this idiotic ideological competition, which in the end is just much ado about nothing.

    So it is that it doesn’t MATTER which district Mr. Prosser is running in, or which state he’s in. The message is standardized, cloned, the same if he’s running in the new 7th district in South Carolina (which is the case here) or from some district in Wyoming or Alabama or Arizona.

    And our politics become increasingly pointless, more and more about self-perpetuating, and almost never about governing.

    (This is why now is Nikki Haley’s moment; it’s why she swept to victory in 2010 as a cover girl on national magazines, and why she was in 7th heaven running about the country with Mitt Romney — because it’s ALL ABOUT national politics for her. Her incompetence as an actual governor is neither here nor there, either for her or her extremely young staff headed by someone who knows nothing about South Carolina. It’s all about the campaign, and certainly not about governing.)

  4. `Kathryn Fenner

    The New Yorker wrote a convincing piece that indicated that while the left has gotten slightly lefter, the right has gotten significantly more to the right. There are no overlaps any more, either. The most conservative Democrat is now to the left of the most liberal Republican. This was not always the case.

    There is no corresponding Democratic Party term for RINO.

  5. Doug Ross

    All well and good if the government actually ever did shrink. You’re complaining about something that hasn’t happened…

    It’s like the wailing about school vouchers. You keep acting like the suggestion of vouchers is what is preventing schools from being successful. Except there aren’t any vouchers and no huge effort to try and implement them.

    It’s baffling. All these people who haven’t shrunk government or implemented vouchers are the reason government has continued to grow and schools continue to fail.

  6. Bart

    “One difference is that the shrunken-government-bathtub-drowners succeed when they simply gum up the works. Progressives genuinely want their legislation passed.”…Kathryn

    With the same passion, conservatives genuinely want their legislation passed.

    Conversely, progressives genuinely don’t want conservative’s legislation passed.

    Progressives use the same tactics to gum up the works when they oppose conservative legislation. Instead of being labeled “shrunken-government-bathtub-drowners”, progresives can be aptly labeled as “bigger than all the oceans combined government expansion supporters.”

    It all depends on your perspective and ideological bent.

    “And the beat goes on” … apologies to Sonny and Cher.

  7. Brad

    Doug, I don’t know what you mean when you say government is growing, unless you mean the federal government, which was swollen over the past decade by the war, the Medicare and No Child Left Behind laws, and (temporarily) the stimulus.

    On the state level, government has certainly shrunk. There are now about 5,000 fewer employees being paid by state taxes than there were in 2008.

  8. `Kathryn Fenner

    Aw, c’mon, Bart–surely you can see that if someone is anti-government, having his or her legislation blocked isn’t a bug, it’s a feature? It would only confirm the view of the proper role of government= very, very small.

    On the other hand, if you are a big government person, you like legislation. Government is good, and the bigger the better.

  9. Doug Ross

    It shrinks a tiny bit in one area and grows significantly in another. And why shouldn’t state government reflectthe economy as a whole?

    Anyway, I have shown you the actual statistics many times. State government spending has grown 50% in the last decade. There’s no shrinking going on.

    I’ll believe the government is shrinking when we see year over year cuts of 10%.

  10. Kevin

    I don’t read the above fundraising letter as this guy saying “I am running for the U.S. House because I want to fix the problems in the U.S. Senate.” You apparently read it that way. If he had said that, then yes you coulld say that his campaign is pointless. But I think that was a bit harsh for you to say to this candidate. His fundraising appeal is like the same as any politician anyway.

  11. `Kathryn Fenner

    @ Doug– State government should not reflect the economy as a whole. It should reflect the priorities of the people. When the economy as a whole tanks, there is far more need in DSS, Medicaid, housing assistance, jobless assistance.
    When the economy is booming, the theory (not true, imho) is that a rising tide floats all ships.

  12. kc

    What, then, is the point of running for the House?

    Congressman get a decent salary, great benefits, and perks, and in SC the only qualifications are that you have be able to spout right-wing claptrap and look like you mean it. Why do you think so many underachievers are vying for the new seat?

Comments are closed.