Is America the Next Rome?

The American political system is broken.

The US Congress is incapable of passing any meaningful legislation to solve the nation’s most pressing problems. Therefore, the United States of America’s best days are behind her and she is dying a slow death.

I said this back in 2000 and 2004 when George W. Bush was elected and reelected. I said that this is a nation in decline. American voters are incapable of electing the best and the brightest to run their government.

And since then, things have only gotten worse. Sure, voters have overwhelmingly elected President Obama, which is certainly a sign of hope, but it’s not enough. He is only one person.

The 2010 elections were huge in terms of clearing America’s pathway to self-annihilation. Conservatives won big that year, and they did so in state legislatures, who got the privilege to redraw US House district maps.

What’s been the result is yet another symbol of America’s decline. For the next 10 years, regardless of the will of voters, the US House will likely stay firmly under the control of the Republican party, which has been taken over by extremists who want to destroy the federal government’s ability to do good.

They hate Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, environment regulations, taxes and public education.

The goal of these House representatives is to keep taxes low on the wealthy, suppress any effort to positively impact employment, drive up the national debt and essentially “starve the beast” of the federal government. As the beast starves, the theory is that Congress will be forced to cut Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and any other social safety net program they can find.

It’s cynical politics at its worst, but it’s effective.

This strategy actually started in 1980 when Ronald Reagan took his seat in the Oval Office. Since that time, taxes have been slashed drastically, regulations have been either eliminated or neutered and the nation has had a boom and bust economy since then.

To make matters worse, the war on labor has also be remarkably successful. Union membership has plummeted as more and more workers are convinced that they’re better off on their own than bargaining collectively.

As a result worker wages have either remained flat or gone down. At the same time taxes on the wealthy have gone up, profits are up and income inequality has not been this out-of-whack since before the Great Depression.

But back to the politics, the latest “fiscal cliff” debacle is just one more glaring example of how broken our political process has gotten. Rather talking about how to jumpstart the nation’s economy through spending on infrastructure, politicians in DC can only talk about how to cut spending and keep taxes as low as possible.

While certainly the nation’s debt is an issue, it’s not the most pressing one. Getting folks back to work, and paying taxes, is the single best way to balance the federal budget. That’s what happened in the 1990s when President Clinton and Congress created a budget surplus. It wasn’t because they were all amazing political leaders. It was because people were working, making money, spending money and paying taxes.

But that was also the result of one of our economic booms. The dot-com boom put a lot of people work and when that bubble burst it was replaced by a housing boom. That bubble burst and there really aren’t any more booms in our future.

For America to ever regain a strong economic footing, we need to build an economy that is built to last. That requires investment in roads, rail, bridges, education, worker training, and the list goes on.

Rather than subsidizing the fossil fuel industry, the federal government needs to be subsidizing renewable energy and research and development.

There are so many things this nation needs to do, but simple can not do, that the only conclusion is that the political system is busted. And there is absolutely no will in DC or among the people to actually do anything to fix it.

All empires eventually fail, now it’s just a question of how far will we fall.

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