Bob Schwartz

Tag: Mitch McConnell

Still Waiting for 21st Century American Politics

Pelosi McConnell Reid Boehner

We are still waiting for the emergence of 21st century politics in America.

The first part of this may seem simplistic and overgeneralized. The second part may seem silly. But this is about politics, so what can you expect?

1

Many Republicans seem to be stuck at some point in the 19th century—not just Robber Barons and the Gilded Age, but certainly that. Many Democrats seem to be stuck with some version of 20th century progressivism—not a bad thing, by any means, but constructed in a different world under different circumstances.

2

Forget the bourbon and beer political summits. The President, Mitch McConnell, Harry Reid, John Boehner, and Nancy Pelosi should take advantage of D.C.’s new legalized marijuana and share the peace pipe. The scripts would fall away, they would be channeling some different higher power. (Question: Which of these, besides Obama, has actually smoked pot before? Answer: All of them, even if it was just a puff, even if it was just a dare, even if they didn’t inhale.)

Music and food might be issues. Not knowing their individual tastes, and if the point is to get to a better and more creative, communal, and enlightening space, Bob Marley could do the trick. Shoulders swaying, spirits lifting, to the heavenly prayer of One Love.

Food? Whatever’s in the fridge.

3

As I said, simplistic, overgeneralized, and silly. But if politics keeps trying to recreate some ideal of a bygone era, country, or world, two centuries ago, one century ago, fifty years ago, it won’t work. Yes, of course there are timeless values that deserve our allegiance. But these are always set in temporal realities. Being current means more than just being “relevant” or using the latest technologies to drive your message home or appealing to ascendant populations. It means that however much you love the way it was, just inhale, exhale, and breathe the air of 2014, 2016, and beyond. Because, politicians, it’s not your parents’ air—it’s not even yours.

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How Much Is That in Harvard Years?: Why Ted Cruz Thinks He Is Leader of the Senate

Ted Cruz - Double Harvard
One of the puzzles of the current political situation is how a U.S. Senator with less than a year in Congress believes he is the leader of his party—if not of the nation.

One theory is that Ted Cruz was born in Canada, and therefore doesn’t completely understand the American political system. But that would make him more reasonable, conciliatory and polite, so that has been rejected.

Another possibility is that the sudden disappearance of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has left a vacuum that the party is scrambling to fill. In the chaos of the relentless search for the Kentucky Senator, Sen. Cruz has leapt into the breach.

The best explanation is a bit esoteric, but if you attended one of the “major” Ivy League colleges, as Ted Cruz did, you should have no trouble following. (Note: This writer, as a graduate of what Ted Cruz considers a “lesser” Ivy, is still struggling with the theory. Hopefully there is a Harvard, Princeton or Yale grad out there to help.)

Just as there are “dog years,” there are also, at least in the mind of Ted Cruz, “Harvard Years.” The exact numbers aren’t clear, but on a one-for-one basis, this means that the seven years he spent at Harvard (College and Law School) is the equivalent of seven years in Congress. If it is two-for-one, he has been there for fourteen years. And if it is a canine calculus, Ted Cruz has been in Congress for 49 years! That is a near record achievement that should put complaints of his inexperience to rest, though other concerns won’t go away so easily.

Note: The Ivy League colleges are famous (at least among their attendees) for their mottos. These are in Latin, because at the time the schools were founded, Latin was the lingua franca of the intelligentsia. (And yes, of course, Ted Cruz probably speaks Latin, along with French and Spanish.)  For all his Haravardian pride, he should pay closer attention to the motto of his alma mater: Veritas (truth).

Even closer to home for Ted Cruz, if he would deign to consider the motto of one of those lesser Ivies, is this: Leges Sine Moribus Vanae—laws without morals are in vain.