Yes, things are getting better. But that's not saying much. Republicans have lowered the standards of Congress so much that the completion of a basic task like passing a budget or confirming a non-controversial judge is now cause for celebration. Americans shouldn't accept the low standards of this new normal. It's like the relief of having a tooth pulled. The ache that's been with you for so long is gone, the sharp pain of having it pulled is over. But there's something missing. As we look forward to the year ahead, let's remember the tasks we left behind in the rancorous, bitter 2013. Barely functioning is not enough. We have a lot of work to do. Here's to higher standards in 2014!
Our federal government was designed as a republic. Within this system, and over time, elections were to have consequences and enlightened public opinion was to govern. Extra-constitutional appendages like the filibuster, abused by minority parties, have moved us away from that vision. Instead, our government is in perpetual gridlock, and the American people have lost faith in their government to even function properly. Even after this rules change, one of our parties must still win the House, the Senate, and the presidency before radically changing our country. That's no small feat. It will often require victories over the course of several elections. That's probably as it should be. Change ought to be possible, but only when one of our parties really earns it. The filibuster gave a small minority in the Senate outsized power to stifle the will of the people.