Rob Douglas: The blame game of politics
May 17, 2012
Steamboat Springs — "Elect Romney because Obama made the economy worse and unemployment is higher now than when he took office."
"You can't blame Obama for the economy and higher unemployment. It's all Bush's fault!"
"Bush? How can you blame Bush? The economy was soaring under Bush until the tax-and-spend Democrats took control of Congress in 2006!"
"Give me a break. The Democrats were just trying to reinstate the policies of Clinton that saved the country from Reagan's trickle-down economics that crippled the middle class and grew deficits."
"You're trying to blame Reagan? Reagan saved this country from Carter's malaise while destroying the Soviet Union and igniting an economic expansion that lasted through Clinton's presidency."
"You're out of your mind! Carter saved this country from that criminal Nixon and his band of Watergate thugs!"
"Well, none of our fiscal woes would have happened if the Democrats weren't a bunch of Stalin-loving Marxists!"
"You're crazy. It's because the GOP is a bunch of fascists — racist, sexist, homophobic fascists!"
Ah, yes. If there's one game we've perfected in America, it's the political blame game.
It's an axiom of American politics that our political parties, candidates and elected officials attempt to divert the attention of the electorate away from their own record or platform by slinging mud at their opponents. And like lemmings of folklore, the American electorate seems perfectly willing to follow their ideological leaders right off the cliffs of sanity.
And lest we get too parochial by only denouncing the unseemly gamesmanship of the political Goliaths in Washington, we should recognize that the same partisan bickering is increasingly present in most every community across America.
Yes, even here in the 'Boat.
Anyone with the least bit of familiarity with Steamboat politics has witnessed current and former members of the Steamboat Springs City Council toss blame-coated barbs at their predecessors and contemporaries when it comes to issues like Steamboat 700, medical marijuana, being pro-development, being anti-growth, the Rehder Building, affordable housing, the Gloria Gossard Parkway, historic preservation, downtown noise levels, building heights, city managers, and the granddaddy of them all, the Iron Horse Inn.
Still, for every rule there is an exception. When it comes to the political blame game in the Yampa Valley, that exception is the Routt County Board of Commissioners.
Like firmly-rooted whitetop, Nancy Stahoviak, Doug Monger and Diane Mitsch Bush have been planted in their offices so long that when they look in the rearview mirror for a previous office-holder to blame they can only see themselves. So, el trio commish do what all pols who have been around so long they have potatoes growing from their ears do — they blame department managers and staff for blunders resulting from their own addiction to micromanagement.
As an aside, does anyone have any idea why a county so small requires so many meetings? Does it really take two days of public meetings each and every week for the commissioners to pick nits?
So, why is it that our elected representatives and political parties at all levels of government increasingly resort to the blame game? And why is the blame game growing uglier and uglier?
The answer is quite simple.
Ever since the New Deal, politicians of all stripes and at all levels have learned that they will be rewarded — meaning re-elected or advanced to higher office — for providing individual and corporate welfare and services to citizens and industries while shifting the mounting debt to future generations.
But now, as Mr. Scott said more than once to Captain Kirk, "We have a problem."
We can no longer kick the cost of 70 years of accumulated deficits down the road.
The bill has come due.
Everybody knows it. No one wants to pay it.
Bottom line: The two dominant political parties play the blame game because neither has the political spine to admit the music is about to stop and the hangover from seven decades of deficit spending is about to sicken us all. So, partisans of both parties cast aspersions while hoping against hope that a painless fix for the painfully unfixable will fall from the sky.
For 20 years, Steamboat resident Rob Douglas was a Washington, D.C. private detective specializing in homicide, political corruption and terrorism. Since 1998, Douglas has been a commentator on local, state and national politics in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Colorado. To reach Rob Douglas, email rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.