You might be asking yourself why the members of Congress always wait until the last minute to make their deals on vital legislation, the kind that they should have passed weeks or months ago, for instance, to rescue the American people from homelessness and starvation.
There are several reasons, but the main one is because politicians are inherently drama kings and queens. It’s insidious but true that these people who rule our lives want to make sure they each get their moments of glory by lining up to present obstacles that could have been avoided.
To be fair, a few of them actually have principled concerns about what the unprincipled ones are trying to slip past them, but for the most part it’s making sure they get their sliver of the spotlight. Or they want to pull a fast one and do favors for their own special interest campaign contributors -- read “legalized bribers” -- by taking care of them when there is a rush to pass legislation, no matter how larded it is with pork.
So it is with the massive bill to keep the federal government open, combining it with the lifesaving financial pipeline that barely keeps American families off the streets -- people who are innocents except for living in a country whose leaders so badly botched the pandemic response that normal citizens face a choice of risking death or hunger.
But there’s that added factor. The wheels of our government have ground to a halt because those in the Capitol building are bargaining with those in the White House, who flit around an emotionally disturbed chief executive who has less than a month to go before he loses all his massive power to destroy the world.
We are about to celebrate the new year -- actually, the passing of an old year that was historically awful. The dates for all that are Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. But they are not the most essential ones: Jan. 5, 2021, is even more important. That’s when the Senate runoff elections are held in Georgia. The results will determine if President Biden has a clear track to recovery from the devastation he’ll inherit from President Trump.
The next day, Jan. 6, is when Congress accepts the results of the presidential election once and for all. Except there is no “once and for all” with the Trumpster. Assuming he and his accomplices don’t come up with some dangerous trickery to keep the United States on razor’s edge, it’ll be noon on Jan. 20 when our citizens can stop holding their breath.
Actually, we cannot. Trump will not go away. He’s made that clear. He has millions of devoted fans who cling to his promises like they were not broken promises. They are not about to surrender their misguided allegiance. They are ready to follow him with every demagogic tweet he comes up with.
But even far more distressing is the violent power he has in his hands, small that they may be. It doesn’t take more than a few careless remarks by him to incite white supremacist terrorists to wreak terrible havoc on a country going through hard times. Meanwhile, let’s not forget the timid politicians making the best self-serving deals they can and, as usual, waiting until the very last minute.
Bob Franken is an Emmy Award-winning reporter who covered Washington for more than 20 years with CNN.