Bread and Circuses and Divided Government

Hit it, Andy! 🎶It’s the most wonderful time of the yeeeeear…🎶*Record scratch.* Wait, just a year? Isn’t it a biannual celebration? Or perhaps it’s more accurate to call it the most wonderful cycle.

Which(when?)ever it is, I’m appropriating the Mr. Christmas carol to ring in the only good time in Washington: divided government. Forget the partridge in a pear tree and the leapin’ lords and lacteal maids. Even forget the days, because we’re getting twelve-months-times-two of political pageantry.

From the top: twelve months until the first presidential primary, an eleventh hour Speaker confirmation, ten constitutional amendments to trample, nine screeching Squad members, the one-hundred-and-EIGHT-teenth Congress, seven-ty-two hours for bill consideration, six percent inflation rate, five Sundaaaaay shows, four-member House majority, three committee-booted Democrats, two squabbling parties, and one boisterous governing body.

Hey, my morale will take anything to get over the post-Christmas mood slump.

Washington isn’t just dangerous under one-party rule, it’s boring.

What drama is there to be had when one Joe-Theismann-resembling senator from West Virginia is calling all the plays? Not much, other than a few palm-grease payoffs for drilling permits. At least we got some Caesarian betrayal out of that.

Intra-party shivving makes for good headlines and spicy press releases, but it’s nothing compared to the minutes-to-midnight showdowns about to go down on Capitol Hill. And after two years of slavish Democratic control, Republicans finally have a hand on the helm. Now there’s only one direction the ship of state will go: list aimlessly. And when the government is aimless, there’s less of a chance it can focus its crosshairs on the citizenry.

To be sure, there’s a cost to maladministration. Just ask the thousands of peeved flyers who recently missed their morning ride thanks to an FAA computer glitch. Or the million-odd immigrants illegally entering the country via the southern border. Government can barely get its most basic functions right. But pair its endemic incompetence with partisan bickering and posturing, the liberal-democratic regime gets even more dysfunctional.

The scene is set so well for inept pompositude that Neil Simon could write a comedy of errors for it in his sleep. The stars are all here: A mealy-mouthed Speaker on the thinnest of oleaginous ice with his party; a craven Senate Majority Leader who’d sell out his grandmother twice over for an extra vote on solar-panel subsidies; a cadaver president push-carted around by the same aides who oversee the entire executive branch. And let’s not forget about the supporting cast: an election-denying, token checkbox pick for House Minority Leader; the cringey, cackle-toned VP who, if gabbing with a clone of herself, only meets a quarter of the Bechdel Test; the recurring antagonist with a humorless visage; the potshotting comic relief who was knocked off last season.

Even the tertiary characters are adding gainfully to the entertainment: the Affirmative Action press secretary who failed every oral book report in middle school; the MAGApublicans who threaten to derail any piece of legislation that isn’t emblazoned at the top with 72pt. font “Trump Won!”; the money-scrounging Never-Trumpers ratcheting up the take heat to keep the clicks a-comin’; and even a real-life crossdressing Zelig spinning yarns in the House.

Heck, we’re even going to get a cameo, Marvel-style, of a fan-favorite: the debt ceiling! The Treasury is set to bump up against the spending barrier in June—setting up a real summer blockbuster. Take that, Guardians of the Galaxy 3!

The brinkmanship over Washington’s welshing will be just one popcorn showing amidst what’s shaping up to be quite a season in off-Pennsylvania Ave. venues. There are investigatory committee hearings forthcoming on matters ranging from government-directed social media censorship, the President’s perpetually thinly-wardrobed crack-suckling son, all that tech and treasure we’re dumping on the Ukrainians, the real provenance of the “cornpone intifada” known as January 6th, and—sequel alert!—a new “Church Committee” on federal malfeasance. C-SPAN cameramen better do a Costco run for bulk Duracell now because we’re about to be subject to more grandstanding footage than a compendium of all twenty “American Idol” seasons. But instead of a lusty Katy Perry critiquing aspiring crooners we get orthopedic shoe model Patty Murray and greaseball Matt Gaetz making sweet love to the closest mic.

Hollywood for ugly people, indeed. Congresswomen can’t all be Tallulah Bankhead (though a surprisingly buxom Nancy Pelosi may have bore a close resemblance in her youth) and the stiltish congress-suits, sometimes called “men,” can’t all be Clark Gable. Thankfully, our lawmakers make up for a lack of looks and charisma by going at each other’s throats for donor dollars—not unlike a backroom smoker. By focusing their energies on belittling their cross-aisle colleagues for Twitter points, our elected bit players won’t have time for consequential legislation, such as War and Peace-length omnibus bills or a national mandate on including preferred pronouns in email signatures.

Who said bread and circuses aren’t healthy for the body politic?

We should be thankful for small favors and big egos. And now our feature presentation! Is it too late to buy Orville Redenbacher’s stock?

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Free the People publishes opinion-based articles from contributing writers. The opinions and ideas expressed do not always reflect the opinions and ideas that Free the People endorses. We believe in free speech, and in providing a platform for open dialog. Feel free to leave a comment!

Taylor Lewis

Taylor Lewis writes from Virginia.

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