The first law of political motion

Published in the Sacramento Bee Newspaper & the Grapevine Independent

Many people see politics as an unfathomable mess, a sort of alchemy in the 21st century. But a comparison of physical laws to politics will yield surprising results. It turns out that politics follows the same rules we learned about in high school physics. Take Newton’s First Law of Motion, which says an object at rest will stay at rest unless acted on by an outside force. Politically, it can be read as “government keeps doing the same thing unless forced to change by an outside force.”

The Legislature has been “at rest” for over a decade, with only occasional bursts of movement — and most of those have been cautious half-measures. Most of the energy in the Capitol is focused inward — a whirlpool of self-promotion, special interests and positioning
for the next rung up the political ladder. A body at rest isn’t necessarily inert, particularly when talking about government; instead it’s
a state of frenetic paralysis that is focused inward, rather than moving the state in any particular direction.

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