Earmarks are a thing of the past. One of my local representatives, Emanuel Cleaver, is pushing to bring earmarks back. That’s at odds with one of my favorite senators, Claire McCaskill, who is stridently opposed to earmarks. Both are Kansas City establishment and both are Democrats.
The funny thing is, Emanuel Cleaver’s reasoning is this: bipartisanship works so much better with earmarks. It makes politicians care about passing legislation. Is is wasteful? Absolutely, without a doubt. Is it financially sound? It can be, as long as we continue to pay for everything. However, if you hate big government, it’s terrible. Pork. Disgusting pork.
But you know what? Ever since we got rid of earmarks, congress has been completely gridlocked and seized up. Politics isn’t local anymore. Now everything is decided on a national level. Republicans no longer care about their districts. Instead, they just bash Obama (endlessly, mindlessly, eternally).
Ever since earmarks were given the boot, there’s no been compelling reason for politics to work. Nobody has a vested interest in getting a bill passed beyond their voting record. The old game of trading favors and amendments and earmarks has died. And what replaced it? Nothing.
Ever since our old system of horse trading favors ended, it inclines each and every politician to play to one, single audience: the hardcore base. And that’s not the only reason this happened. For one thing, gerrymandering crafted districts to contain supermajorities of their given party. That means, every district has a radical partisan in control. And to get re-elected, whoever runs in these radical districts have to have radical ideologies or they’ll get crushed in the primaries. Even worse, because of national media, there’s less reliance on local sources and less emphasis on the local benefits. Instead, it’s all ideological hardliners on all sides with no reason to work together.
With these three factors, it’s no wonder bipartisan politics are dead. Local politics transcend parties. Local politics involve communities of all different sorts. If all we do is focus on the broad picture, on the national scene, we’ll never band together to help out the localities where we actually live.