Groundhog Day In U.S. Politics

DATELINE: Boringville, January 13 – Through one source or another, we all know about Groundhog Day. If you haven’t been introduced to Punxsutawney Phil, you’ve seen the 1993 Bill Murray movie. They’re both about repeating the same experience ad nauseam. In Phil’s case, it’s the dreary winter day repetition. With the movie, it is reliving the same 24 hours seemingly forever.


Like these repetitious experiences, the same day in U.S. politics is happening over and over again. The day that was is also the day that is and the day that will be again. The same political battle lines are drawn, the same taunting rhetoric is uttered and the same lack of progress is reported nightly on the news.


Every day it’s Obama versus the Republicans, executive orders versus legislation, vetoes versus bill signings, platitudes versus practicalities. The issues remain the same: global climate change, income redistribution, immigration reform and, what people are actually interested in, terrorism. Lovers of the old saying, no news is good news, never lived through the same old interminable day.


The American government is designed to operate on compromise in order to avoid the dangers of extremes. It has a two-party system, a bicameral legislature that must function internally – both within each chamber and between them – and a President that must work with the legislature. If there is no willingness to compromise, the business of the Country stops.


We’ve seen so little compromise since 2009 that we’ve forgotten what it looks like.


Will the political Groundhog Day end? Will issues be resolved, accomplishments achieved, and new challenges addressed? In the movie, Murray’s character was stuck in the same 24 hours because he was a narcissistic jerk stuck in the same self-centered rut. He finally moved on to a new day but only after he matured into an outwardly directed human being.


Like the Groundhog Day protagonist, President Obama is stuck in a self-centered rut. His rigid insistence on strict adherence to an extreme agenda guarantees that the same political day recurs incessantly. Oh sure, Congressional Republicans are plenty flawed themselves. But, they recognize the necessity of working with Dems and are doing it today.


Until that light dawns on the President as well, this day will never end.