Ray Ahearn: Republican extremism at root of gridlock

People walk outside the U.S Capitol building in Washington D.C.

People walk outside the U.S Capitol building in Washington D.C. AP FILE PHOTO/PATRICK SEMANSKY

Published: 07-10-2024 6:00 PM

Modified: 07-10-2024 8:55 PM


I read Joe Gannon’s July 4 column [“Broken political infrastructure on display”] with considerable empathy. While I share his pain traveling up and down I-95, I have to say that help is on the way for improving our physical infrastructure.

The vastly under-publicized Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden in November 2021, authorized $1.2 trillion in spending to upgrade American highways, ports, airports, power grids, bridges, and public transit. This effort to update our country’s physical infrastructure is the most expensive in U.S. history. Unfortunately, such a massive amount of spending is spread out over four years, and many of the projects will take much longer to complete. Thus, the benefits will not become tangible or evident for folks traveling up and down the East Coast or around our vast country for a number of years.

Regarding the broken political infrastructure Mr. Gannon bemoans, the fact that the Biden administration, backed by Democratic control of the House and Senate during 2021-2022, was able to pass two major pieces of legislation, in addition to the huge infrastructure bill, suggests that legislation to meet today’s challenges is still possible with Democratic control of both the White House and Congress.

In my view, the primary cause of political paralysis and dysfunction at our nation’s Capitol, which began when Newt Gingrich became minority leader of the Republican Party in the House of Representatives in the mid-1990s, is that that the Republican Party’s overarching aim has become the promotion of gridlock, all in an effort to convince the American public that government (i.e., legislation) is not the solution to the everyday problems they face.

This perverted notion is clearly reflected in the GOP’s 2020 presidential platform, which put forth no new policy positions or principles, except unwavering support for President Donald Trump. So I say that this Republican extremism, more than anything else, is why our politics today are divisive, partisan, often gridlocked, and seemingly broken.

Ray Ahearn

Holyoke

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