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Please Leave Enough Time to Override a Veto

The debt ceiling and the continuing resolution votes coming up should be passed with at least 11 days to spare. In the past, these votes have been done at the last minute, but Congress should leave nothing to chance here.

Under the Constitution, the president could sit on a bill for at least 11 days (ten, but they excepted Sundays) before issuing a veto (any longer and it automatically becomes law). While the president would probably sign either bill at the last minute, if McConnell and Ryan give him the chance, he might just screw it up.

The debt ceiling is the bigger deal here, though both matter. But in both cases, what should have been handled well before hand has been put off to the last minute. In both cases, there are efforts to try to leverage political gains out of what should be the most basic, no-nonsense acts of government.

But, worse, we have a president who appears unstable enough to stick a pinky on the corner of his mouth and fire guns at the feet of the legislature, telling them to dance and build his wall and whatever other villain cliches might be on hand at the time.

If the legislature puts the debt bill on the president’s desk in time, and he fails to sign it, causing any default, he would be impeached and likely removed for it. But the damage would be done. The fiscal reputation of the country would be harmed in a way that is not easily repaired.

It’s an easy call to make. Pass the bill early. If President Trump doesn’t sign it, override his veto. It’s the least the government can do for its people.

The continuing resolution to fund the government and keep it open is a similar story, though thankfully the only people directly harmed by a shutdown would be millions of workers and not the very fabric of the international financial order. So, no big deal, right? Just get the bill done. No gimmicks. Clean bill, with a plan to override any veto.

There is about a month left to get both done. If you want to do tax reform, then get these out of the way quickly.

Gerrymandering: A Double-edged Sword

A look at how the gerrymandering of districts can and will backfire.

The shutdown ended, the debt ceiling hiked, and House Republicans found themselves bewildered by a backfiring strategy to retreat the Affordable Care Act.

With a follow-up due by 15 January 2014 for the funding issue, and the limit on borrowing to pay for debt requiring another tune-up by 7 February 2014, the question firing among the people: what will snap the American government out of their funk?

One of the major adverse interactions behind the GOP House attempt against the ACA comes from the nature of House seats and the reality of gerrymandering. State lawmakers try to draw their districts to empower their party-mates and suppress those outside of their party.

But the pretense of parties then rears its head. The reality that no such thing as parties can truly exist, so long as humans do not become automatons, shines through.

The party line, a fiction, only holds so long as it does not damage those holding it. But when select interests who identify with the party find themselves underrepresented, they will seek to magnify their attention within the party.

Whence primaried. Another way to say it: reverse-gerrymandered. The district, drawn too strictly and too strongly for your party position, swung around you. The center moved to your right. What now?

Now, the fiction of parties mainly serves special interests that hitch on to the party. But when the party sours, from party to Tea Party to Tea Pirates, either the interest groups will drift solo, or remain tethered to a listing ship.

If the former, they hope for short rescue, the latter for new hands to right the ship. Blood in the water attracts sharks. The opposition interests find new purchase, new avenues of attack, while the interests tethered to the soured party bail and pump the bilges and panic.

At some point one must question the sensibility of gerrymandering, a trap set too tight for the trapper’s own good. It caricatures the electorate, makes fools of good men, as they must take up increasingly contorted poses to fit the party mold.

But the party member sees himself as but an acolyte. As he twists half-way, so the politician must make a three-quarters twist. And so on. And then, one fine day: snap goes the neck, crunch goes the bone, squirt goes the blood, and out go the lights in the eyes of the extremist politicians trying to find standing ground in a world they turned upside down.

The aftermath of gerrymandering comes chaos. Some to any semi-sane third-party around, some to the formerly minority party. Some to the wind, out of Dodge, never to vote again or to speak of the strange rituals they partook on the Tea Pirate ship.

Rumors among the people of cannibalism sneak in between nervous laughter and a tired hope for a better government. Too much to ask.

Oh, do not call this bleak. The demise of the Tea Party (be it in 2014 or in years to come) will bring renewed hope. The center will normalize to a truer equilibrium, for example. The minority party strength will grow.

The memetic force of the Tea Party relies on the notion that the government fold up like a map, and that their politicians can fold that map. Neither bear out. They promised the world and delivered nothing. But at least the people still will another shot at the reform game, even if they chose such a lackluster option.