Back in the old days there was a breed of Congressman, rugged individualists, who, whenever he (or she) had to cast an unpopular vote, would shrug and say, Let the chips fall where they may.
That political animal is now all but extinct.
In the place of a troublesome conscience (when it comes to unpopular votes) our average modern Congressman has a finely tuned set of political antennae so sensitive he can detect a political threat from miles away and take evasive action.
But, now, the ‘fiscal cliff’ is giving our archetypical Congressman fits.
According to a poll last week, 78% of the voters don’t like the idea of going over the cliff one bit – a political bombshell our Congressman’s antennae clearly have in focus. He also has in focus voters agree with President Obama about raising taxes – but from there his life gets more complex.
Because voters also oppose cutting Medicare spending.
Oppose cutting Medicaid.
Oppose cutting Social Security.
Oppose raising the Medicare or Social Security retirement age.
And oppose increasing debt.
That leaves our Congressman in a fix – suddenly his antennae are sending a hurricane of storm warnings to his frazzled brain and he can’t see a single vote he can cast to reduce the deficit (unless he’s a Democrat voting to raise taxes) that won’t blow him to smithereens.
And to ‘pile Pelion on Ossa’ he faces one more threat: If he votes the way his constituents want today and the economy tanks in two years, when he’s stumping for re-election, voters will be asking, Where were you when we needed a Congressman who had the guts to cast the tough votes?
Nature has played a cruel trick on him. He’s trapped.