The Senate, tangled up in its quasi-attempt at filibuster reform, only looks good -- says George Packer -- in comparison to the House. Absent that comparison, the Senate is bad enough to look like the senate that brought Rome down.
The United States Senate hasn’t matched that record yet, but it’s getting there. At this moment, the Senate doesn’t look so bad, but that’s only because the House of Representatives has recently managed to outdo it in sheer pigheadedness—defeating the majority party’s own fiscal plan, refusing to allow a vote on Hurricane Sandy aid. Also, we’ve grown numb to the Senate’s paralysis. Stagnation and obstruction have become its only identifying characteristics. ...George Packer, New Yorker
Meanwhile, Packer also has something to say about the politically annoying South. It's still annoying but a lot less powerful -- powerful enough to, well, irritate moderates and progressives and, to be truthful, what we used to call goody-goodies. The South titillates but doesn't have real influence. In some places, it has really changed into a pot-pourri of American culture on humid, soft soil. In others, it's a caricature of sutthun culcha.
...The Solid South speaks less and less for America and more and more for itself alone.
Solidity has always been the South’s strength, and its weakness. The same Southern lock that once held the Democratic Party now divides the Republican Party from the socially liberal, fiscally moderate tendencies of the rest of America. The Southern bloc in the House majority can still prevent the President from enjoying any major legislative achievements, but it has no chance of enacting an agenda, and it’s unlikely to produce a nationally popular figure.
As its political power declines, the South might occupy a place like Scotland’s in the United Kingdom, as a cultural draw for the rest of the country, with a hint of the theme park. Country music and NASCAR remain huge. Alabama teams have won the past four college football titles. ...Packer, New Yorker