A homeless voter? Vote gridlock

U.S. Congressman Paul Ryan

U.S. Congressman Paul Ryan

In Paul Ryan, we trust.

That’s my answer to the many people I’ve talked with who are homeless in the coming November election. Many Republicans don’t want to vote for Donald Trump, who they see as a repudiation of the value structure they have lived their lives around. But they can’t see voting for Hillary Clinton, who they view as having both feet in the power and money trough and who will tip the balance on the U.S. Supreme Court with three likely appointments.

I have no answer for them in the presidential races. Some say tell me they might cast their ballots for a candidate from a fringe party.

But there is one solution. Vote for gridlock.

If Speaker Paul Ryan and the GOP hold onto their arm of Congress, with the best bet being the House, he and they can block legislation from either President Clinton or President Trump.

The GOP may lose control of the U.S. Senate if Trump loses in a landslide. Wisconsin’s Sen. Ron Johnson could be part of the collateral damage from a Trump loss. He is trailing consistently in the polls to Russ Feingold, the liberal Democrat who was his predecessor.

Gridlock could work in two directions. Clinton has run to left, so you can expect her, for example, to recognize reality on the failed experiment with ObamaCare and go for “the public option ” (translate: a government takeover of the health care industry). Ryan and a GOP-controlled House could put the skids on her trip down that road to federal bankruptcy.

And a GOP-led House could mitigate damage from other initiatives taking the country more to an entitlement society without regard to ways and means. Clinton’s fiscal policies are centrist, but they don’t jibe with the costs of her social agenda. Like her husband, she is probably a pro-growth Democrat underneath, but she doesn’t talk about it on the stump.

Even the Lord doesn’t know what Trump would come up with as President. Trump doesn’t know. His positions change by the hour. He will be entertaining—for a while. But his schtick will get old in a hurry as problems beg for solutions beyond policy blurts. Ryan looks to have the fortitude to not get dragged into Reality TV.

It’s one thing for Ryan as a party leader to tread a high wire act during a presidential campaign when loyalty to party weighs heavily. While reticent, he supports Trump on the surface. It is another matter for Ryan to deal with a president as a leader of a co-equal branch of power under the constitution.

A President Trump would surely try to roll Congress. It’s in his DNA to bully his way to where he wants to go. President Obama has blazed the trail with his over-reach of the use of executive power to circumvent the will of Congress, not that Trump needs or regards precedent.

Ryan knows, as we all know, that the way to deal with a bully is to punch him in the nose. We learned it on the playground, where Trump learned many of his tactics.
Ryan, who has a safe seat in November, can also be counted on to protect the prerogatives of the legislative branch as a matter of institutional integrity. He won’t get rolled.

A President Clinton would also be rough tough in the clinches. Local Democrats have told me she also likes to muscle adversaries. She does it more covertly than Trump, but she is just as likely to bend the rules to do things her way. Witness the circumvention of the laws and regulations with her private e-mail server.

In short, both candidates believe rules and regulations are for other people. Moreover, they can be counted on to use their powers to target adversaries. Trump, for instance, has on a long history of using the legal system to attack business adversaries.

There will be a need for a counter—balance at the highest levels of American government. We in Wisconsin know Paul Ryan. We may not agree with him on all issues. But he has been a principled politician for a long time. Track records count for something.

So write your checks and knock on doors for a Ryan-led GOP house.

If ever here was a time when checks and balances will be needed, the next four years looks like it.

The prospects for a government under President Trump or President Clinton are exactly what our founding fathers feared and why they created three co-equal branches of government.

At the end of the day, it is Congress that can put the brakes on over-reach by the other two branches, either by a president or a partisan court going too far from the American mainstream.
Congressmen, especially House members, do retail politics as they run for office every two years. They are closest to the people. They are in the mainstream.

Ergo, vote for gridlock. That means keeping Paul Ryan as Speaker of the House.

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  • old baldy

    Vote for gridlock. My, isn’t that the quitters way out?

    Gridlock is what mobilized the folks that got Trump to where he is today. If our Republican controlled Congress would have accomplished something since they have had both houses we wouldn’t have Trump. But they frittered away opportunity after opportunity and all they got were a bunch of failed attempts to get rid of the ACA, and a chance to get an even more liberal SC justice to replace Scalia.

  • Marc Eisen

    John, I gotta ask: Would Wisconsin be better off with a little gridlock in Madison — say, if the Democrats controlled at least one house as a counterweight to Gov. Walker?

    • Duke

      So you would prefer gridlock to the passage of Act 10, Right to Work and the elimination of the prevailing wage laws in WI? Would making our state government stagnant have helped Gov. Walker repay all the borrowed money that Diamond Jim Doyle transferred out of the Transportation Fund and gave to his friends in the WEAC?

      One of the few major issues still left on the table is the Minimum Markup Law, and I expect (barring political party gridlock) that useless bit of legislation will be gone after the next legislative session. Replacing Robin Vos as Speaker might help a lot more in getting rid of Minimum Markup than gridlock. Be careful what you ask for.

      • Marc Eisen

        I’m an old guy. In the 40+ years I’ve watched and reported on Wisconsin politics the two best governors I’ve seen are Pat Lucey, a Democrat, and Tommy Thompson, a Republican. Both had to wrangle with a legislative house controlled by the opposition party. The fact they had to strike compromises to get their expansive programs passed was a good thing. it made their politics more reality-based, something we don’t see today in Wisconsin.

        One party rule invariably results in arrogance, excess, and a political system that becomes rigged to reward the people controlling the levers. The genius of the American system is that we can periodically hit the reset button.

        The comments of the anonymous “Duke” perfectly reflect the blindness of many Wisconsin conservatives. He thinks “one of the few major issues still left on the table is,” umm, “the Minimum Markup Law.”

        In what universe does “Duke” live?

        He sounds ignorant of the fact that Wisconsin has been mired in economic stagnation for decades under both Democratic and Republican governors. Save for a brief upswing in the 1990s, the state’s economy has been losing ground since the crushing recession of the early 1980s. Little has changed under the one party rule of Gov. Walker and the Republicans. They heavily tilt state aid and tax breaks to the large legacy industries that as a group produce damn few new jobs.

        Largely ignored and short-changed by the policymakers are the new businesses and entrepreneurs who research shows create the lion’s share of new jobs.

        Such is the politics of nostalgia that grips Wisconsin.

        Of course, the Democrats are caught up in their own dreams of yesteryear. (They think there will be a Restoration of powerful public employee unions.) But here’s my point: If the Democrats controlled one legislative house, the Republicans could do less damage to Wisconsin.

        One hopes there might then be some productive compromises. But failing that, gridlock sounds good. We can then hold on for the generational change in leadership that Wisconsin sorely needs. It has to come.

        • JohnTorinus

          Maybe a objective of gridlock is not coined well. Maybe a better term would be peaceful coexistence — in which the two parties agree to let only the most sensible, pragmatic, strategic initiatives go forward.
          Marc, Your point about the innovation going on despite the politics is important. Most big change comes from outside government: medical miracles, communication expansion, information processing, knowledge management, environmental advances, energy generation, education innovation, even race relations. .
          The country and state will move forward with or with the pols.

    • Bill Kurtz

      Marc, you beat me to the punch. Mr. Torinus has occasionally voiced qualms about the results of one-party rule in Madison: sustained attacks on ethics, education and the environment.

  • Mark

    Gridlock will only keep pace with our race to the bottom. We need real change. Why don’t you promote Dr. Jill Stein. Afraid of reality? Or, afraid of a discussion about reality? She has higher ethical standards than either component of each of the two leading parties and their presidential candidate. I’m sure if either party was in control of one or both houses, the gridlock would be enormous if there was a third party presidency.

    We’re going to go through another four years of dysfunction, with the average american citizen taking more of the hits. I don’t know how much longer we can last with the system as is now. How about a discussion about that. It’s beyond incremental change. Our system is too damaged.

  • Abett

    Vote for gridlock? phooey! That’s what we’ve had for the past six years with a do-nothing Congress except vote against ACA 62 times! What a waste of time and tax payer money that has been.. I say we don’t need more gridlock, we need less. It’s been the epitome of dysfunction in Congress, the worst ever.

    • Duke

      Gridlock has been the Democrat’s chief defense against a Republican Congress. By your comment I suggest you believe it worked very effectively.

      • JohnTorinus

        Contrary to the fear mongering and doomsday predictions from both candidates, I think the country is in pretty good shape. We have some major issues (race relations, debt levels, deficits, Medicaid cost escalation, terrorism, Putin), but they are not of the proportions of WWII or the Great Recession.
        So gridlock is POK be me. Just let the American people do their jobs of building this country. The pols build little.