The Republicans made a good show of trying to fix it all themselves, only to find out that they couldn’t agree. That’s fine. They should learn their lesson and we should all learn it. We can’t do it by ourselves.

Whether it’s finding a new balance on welfare and minimum wage, where we don’t want to subsidize Walmart workers, but we don’t want to push people out of work and onto welfare, or whether it’s on regulation where we want to be sure that we’re not poisoning our air and water, not destroying habitats, but we don’t want businesses to spend a ton of money just on paperwork, we have to come together.

That means we have to keep going back to first principles. What is the system there for, and if it’s there for the wrong thing, we need to change it to target our actual goals. And that’s hard, because it requires a level of honesty from politicians they’re not accustomed to. They can’t just hide behind calling the system a mess or sad, but have to say what they actually think it’s for.

On climate change, it’s harder as the Republicans hold somewhere between “it’s not happening” and “it’s not humans doing it.” On proposed actions, we see claims about killing jobs and high costs. For that reason, working together likely first requires establishing the baseline beliefs about jobs.

Jobs are there to do useful work. If the wages can’t be high enough to do needed work, the government subsidizes that job. Otherwise, the work isn’t important enough. Or, work for work’s own sake is good, and we should subsidize any work, no matter how useless. Or some middle ground.

Same on illegal immigration. Underpaid labor. Should the price of produce rise and we send those folks home, hoping their economies of origin grow to support them? Should we legalize them? Certainly the decision should not be made strictly on the basis of existing law. It should be what’s best. But that requires, again, someone like Trump to admit what their core goal is. Is it racism, or is it giving Americans those jobs, or just what is it?

But the alternative is basically to continue down the current path, which is a dumb beast of government that thrashes and turns randomly, wrapped in its own bindings, trying to see its way forward.


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