- No matter that it has yet to legislate adequate relief for the unprecedented troubles besetting the nation.
- No matter that we are in the clutches of the gravest crisis in American history since the Civil War.
- No matter that the American people are suffering from a pandemic that is wreaking havoc with our healthcare system, our economy and our entire way of life while killing us at rates reminiscent of wartime.
- No matter that millions of Americans have lost jobs that will likely never come back.
- No matter that the education system is a shambles.
- No matter that the crisis has laid bare the racial, income, wealth, food, housing, employment and access inequalities that divide the haves from the have-nots.
- No matter that our mortal enemy put bounties on the killing of our troops and our leaders are doing nothing about it.
- No matter that we have sunk so low that the world now views us with pity, contempt and as a laughingstock (spiced with a small dose of schadenfreude).
- No matter that the new normal that will prevail once this calamity passes is not going to look like anything we have ever experienced.
- And no matter that the president of the United States has abandoned any semblance of responsible governing in favor of fanning the flames of racism, fear and hate.
Congressional sessions begin in January and end in December. In a typical year free of chaos, confusion and calamity, Congress actually meets only two-three days per week. The Constitution forbids either the Senate or the House to adjourn for more than three days without the permission of the other chamber. So, the question must be asked: why did Nancy Pelosi accede to Mitch McConnell’s request to go home on vacation when the country cries out for Congress to do much more to alleviate the pain Americans are suffering? If there was ever in our 240-year history a time when we need our legislators to stay in Washington and work on our behalf, it is now. This is even more the case when the president has abandoned all pretense of leading and governing.
During the run-up to World War II and throughout the war, another period when we were confronted with an existential crisis, Congress stayed in session year-round with only brief recesses. In 1942, it did not take any time off at all. Contrast that with 2020, when notwithstanding the largest number of coronavirus illnesses and deaths in the world by far, a devastated economy, millions of Americans hurting and in need of assistance, and a woefully incompetent president, Congress is scheduled to work only three of the next ten weeks.
Taken together, the absence of Congress and the president’s abdication of any responsibility for governing and protecting us means that, in effect, we presently have no national government. We are on the cusp of becoming a failed state.
July 10, 2020