“Cattywampus” means askew, and not purposely so. That is, one doesn’t want the foundation of one’s abode to be cattwampus even as one might tolerate and even enjoy a cattywampus cubist-painting.
Is the political realm inherently cattywampus? Is careening what it does “best”? Perhaps so. Even so, American politics now seems extraordinarily cattywampus because of how politicians with power and those who egg them on seem extraordinarily uninterested in agreed upon facts and, arguably, persistent crises. Let’s look at some examples:
1. Agreed upon fact: the U.S. budget is cattywampus, moreso than usual. Agreed upon fact: Congress and W. allowed two wars to be fought without raising taxes or selling “war-bonds.” President Obama and the current Congress are doing the same. Agreed upon fact: President Reagan and the Congresses during his terms drastically reduced the tax-rate on those with the greatest means to pay taxes. Agreed upon fact: successful programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are in trouble, partly if not largely because of demographics (here come the Boomers).
2. The responses to the agreed upon facts: Both the GOPers and President Obama seem to want to correct the budgetary imbalance chiefly by making the three successful programs less successful, in a variety of ways, including using a different (and worse) cost-of-living-increase formula. I think this is called cheating, but I’m not sure. Both are afraid to raise taxes in any serious way because they are afraid they won’t get re-elected. However, the most sensible thing to do (in my opinion) would be to go back to pre-Reagan tax-rates and stop the wars as soon as possible–and/or sell war-bonds.
3. Worse, the GOPers chief response to the alleged budgetary crisis is to make it worse, to turn it into a zero-sum game. GOPer-friendly pundits egg them on. Call Obama’s bluff, they cry. Obama, for his part, negotiates craftily, but at the same time, he is essentially GOPerish in his willingness to make successful programs bear the main burden of fixing the budget. Sure, he mumbles things about private jets, but he’s not willing even to propose the sort of tax-increases Clinton instituted. Apparently Clinton raised taxes on those of means about 3%, and that helped the economy a lot, although even I, a mere poet, realize that many economic changes are cyclical; that is, to some degree, Clinton got lucky. Still, his economic policies were less cattywampus.
The current overall response to the cattywampus economy seems profoundly stupid, almost the worst of politics. One impending result seems to be to hurt those who are hurting already: the aged, the infirm, the working class. Either the structure or the powerful inhabitants of American politics or both seem incapable of looking at a cattywampus situation and bringing it back into balance–even when their response seems to hurt them politically! That is, lots of Obama’s supporters have turned their backs on him, and in California (for example), GOPer voter-registration is down to 31%. Yep, only 31% of registered voters are Republican in California. Additionally, the Democratic Party seems to be an ineffective version of the old moderate Republican Party, while the Republican Party seems to define itself more narrowly and freakishly every day. Good grief, McConnell and Boehner are the best they have, apparently! Bachmann is ahead in the polls in Iowa.
The Pseudocracy is ascendant, or so it seems to this poet. The carpenters on the job seem unable or unwilling (or both) to correct a cattywampus foundation. Political scientists and historians may have different, less pessimistic views. I hope so–I think.