The Buddha taught everything changes, and that the root of human suffering was our resistance to the acceptance of this reality. Congress could use a few Buddhists right now because the way both parties are acting one would think that we’ve achieved some sort of permanent status in Washington DC.
The Republican Party lost its mojo last election after drinking tea to victory in 2010, and is acting like it will never be in power again. Likewise the Democrats are acting as if they will be the majority party in perpetuity and Obama won with a landslide last November even though he won fewer votes in ‘12 than he did in ‘08. Both statements would be true if time stopped today and never flowed again, but that isn’t its nature. The former prince of a tiny kingdom in India 2,500 years ago understood that and did so without polls, political consultants or reading op-ed pieces in the Washington Post.
Republicans today should be proposing legislation that benefits the majority party. Why? Because things change. It will find its groove again will likely retake the Senate in 2014 and the White House in 2016. In order to prepare for that day, they should be agreeing to the legislation being put forth by the Democrats. End the filibuster? Absolutely. Expand Executive orders? Yes. Give the president the power to raise the debt ceiling? We’re on board. Today the President talks of using an executive order to restrict gun rights. That will set a precedent for a Republican president in four years time to use an executive order to restrict abortion rights, so the GOP should cheer and the Dems should reconsider their support of such an expansion of executive power.
Similarly the Democrats should be proposing legislation that protects the minority power because it is likely they will become that in two years time and it takes time for laws to be legislated and put into place. They also should be putting into place laws that build strengthen the legislative branch over the executive because it is likely they will return to Congress under a Republican president.
Of course neither party is willing to do this because it would appear they are giving in to the other, but back in the day party leaders like Tip O’Neil and James Baker would have had the foresight to see an election or two down the road and recognize the rhythm of American politics, the pendulum that swings from the left to the right and back again, marking the passage of time in the Republic. For Republicans today it’s hard not to despair, but to quote from another great man a few thousand miles to the west of the Buddha (although only a few hundred years before Him), King Solomon who pondered the eternal truth of the statement, “This too shall pass.” And the Democrats who are exultant and ready to remake history as Progressive ideals conquer all, a reminder: “This too shall pass.”
It would behoove both Democrats and Republicans to prepare for today’s passing because as the Buddha taught, whether or not we like it, it will.