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Opinion: Richard Markuson

Thursday, January 24, 2019


Richard Markuson

What Hath Voters Wrought?
For the pilots out there, or figure skaters for that matter, you may have heard the term "death spiral." For pilots, it is a downward, corkscrew-motion of a disabled aircraft which is irrecoverably headed for a crash. The insurance industry and as I mention, figure skating, also have death spirals. For my purposes today, the airplane analogy fits best (although, I can see a skit on Saturday Night Live that has President Trump and Speaker Pelosi in skating attire performing the routine, but I should have spared my faithful readers of that vision).
I wonder if American voters have inadvertently put US governance into a type of death spiral? Apparently frustrated with the Paul Ryan version of the House of Representatives, voters decided that handing the House to folks like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Nancy Pelosi would improve the US Governance model. Careful readers will obviously note that the "voters" in America (USA) would have preferred Hilary Clinton (to the tune of almost 3 million raw votes) and it was the process in the Constitution (Article 2§1 as amended by the 12th amendment) that vested in "electors" the obligation to pick a President. The Framers of the Constitution were wary of giving the people the power to directly elect the President. Some felt the citizenry too beholden to local interests, too easily duped by promises or shenanigans, or simply because a national election, in the time of oil lamps and quill pens, was just impractical. Thank the Lord we have been spared being "too easily duped by promises or shenanigans!"
But I have grave concerns that we are entering a political death spiral. President Trump seems fixated on building and reinforcing our Southern Border with Mexico and has, for the last month, been willing to withhold pay from over 800,000 Federal workers, many of whom have stayed on the job (thank goodness! Be sure to thank your "volunteer" TSA screener or air traffic controller or Coast Guardsman or Guardswoman next time you encounter them). This has frustrated both the Left, who quite frankly would not like anything emanating from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, and the Right, some of whom believe that the fixation or a "wall" diverts attention from broader, more important issues of border security, immigration, and trade.
And at this point, since both sides seem intent on ramping up the animosity between the two sides, how does it all end? Speaker Pelosi has made clear she will not spend even a dollar on a wall, and President Trump has expressed willingness to support an extended partial government shutdown. One idea floating around is that if the TSA or air traffic controllers were to engage in sustained massive job actions, thus severely impacting air travel, both sides would have to compromise. But the controllers have gone down that road before and may be unwilling to try again. Another scenario is that some emergency, natural or otherwise, will force the sides to compromise. A third is that with the 2020 elections right around the corner, some Senate Republicans could peel off and support a clean funding bill.
Only time will tell, but I just hope a resolution occurs soon, before the disabled aircraft hits the ground.