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Politics have been on Spring Break this week. And like the warming blue skies of Easter, I am beginning to wonder if this change might be permanent.
Ever since Donald Trump glided down the Trump Tower escalators in 2015, the action in Washington has been hot and fast. News cycles felt like commando raids and blogs like this one got into the business of covering government like it was the WWE.
With that as a reference point, we have just finished an utterly unrecognizable week in American politics. The sort that we hardly recognize in 2021 – and would have expected in some distant and genteel era of sear sucker suits and “Yes, we can” buttons.
Here’s what’s been on the table since Monday:
- In the Senate, Joe Biden, Mitch McConnell, Dick Durbin, and a slew of talking heads are arguing about the arcane parliamentary rules of the filibuster. Very boring.
- In Iowa, DNC lawyers are contesting a House race that Republicans appear to have won by a mere 6 votes. Business as usual.
- In the White House, Joe Biden has been floating various trillion-dollar infrastructure plans that will require tax increases to finance them. Okay, makes sense.
- And at the Border, where desperate immigrants continue to pour-in, the Biden Administration has begun to… hold children in detention centers. Ironic, but also a bad situation.
Now, Animals, I don’t mean to tell you that these subjects aren’t thorny and fraught with peril. The bickering over them will be constant. But the bickering will also be constrained to things that politicians are expertly trained to bicker about, and for which they have the ability to resolve. Issues like elections, parliamentary procedure, taxation, and immigration are in Congress’s job description.
One of the great traumas of the Trump Era – and one that is going to linger for a while – is that many people came to believe that the government needed to take a hands-on approach to cultural issues. And it doesn’t take a genius to recognize that cultural issues are precisely the things that government institutions like the Senate Energy & Water Committee… are completely unprepared to tackle. That’s by design, by the way.
At the end of the day, the US government performs 4 basic services: it takes your money, it spends your money, it regulates what businesses can do with your money, and it keeps foreign powers from invading. That’s really it.
When government officials are constraining their conversations to these 4 topics, you’re probably living in a time of stability.
So while I personally have strong opinions about any subject, it gives me a sense of relief to know that at least for one week, we’re off the subject of whether or not Kamala Harris and AOC are trying to make all our kids wear vagina hats to class and memorize a little red book of Woke phrases; or if the Republican Party really is drifting into a pro-Trump cult for white identity politics.
Of course, these forces are still out there and will be for a while. But you have to wonder whether or not they can really continue to prosper without Donald Trump in the picture. For many people, Donald Trump was either the hero or the villain of a lifetime. This created a creepy circumstance where depending on your worldview, there was a good chance that you were unreasonably comfortable with extremists attacking the Capitol, or extremists rioting in the streets. Trump was straight from Hollywood – the rare character who could have all of the era’s conflicts projected onto his life. Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader. Harry Potter of Lord Voldemort. You get the idea.
And with Trump gone, covering politics feels less like writing the story of a great Biblical epic, and more like chronicling what happened today on All My Children. The splashy, primetime drama is gone for now.
The question is – did all that insanity just head off for Spring Break – or have the seasons changed for good?