Thursday, June 16, 2011

Finding a way to govern again

I read a fascinating article in The Atlantic this week called "How to Turn Republicans and Democrats into Americans."

It's written by Mickey Edwards a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma.

I think Edwards has articulated what many of us have come to suspect of the two parties, that they are more interested in vying with each other for political power than they are in actually doing what it takes to govern the county. A large part of what it takes is compromise. We don't see that out of members of Congress who are increasingly selected from one-party districts or by primary electorates who hold positions far to the left or right of the general public.

Edwards notes that when Nancy Pelosi became Speaker of the House she said her job was to elect more Democrats and that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the most important thing that Republicans could do with their increased numbers after 2010 was to insure the defeat of Barack Obama in 2012.

Really? The county is involved in three (and counting) wars, the unemployment rate is north of 9% and the most important thing the parties have to do is score political points off each other?

As Edwards notes, campaigning has become perpetual in Congress, at the expense of governing.

He worries that Congress has virtually ceased to function as an independent branch of government. The members of Congress in the party that holds the presidency have become almost an auxiliary part of the executive branch and the other party the reflexive opposition to the executive.

Which should concern everyone, liberal, conservative or moderate.

While both parties are fond at times of saying that this or that branch or department of government has overstepped "its Constitutional bounds," the parties themselves are well beyond their Constitutional roles.

Because the Constitution gives them no role.

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