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March 30, 2009

Aieeeee!!!! Who Will Save Us From This Too! Too Unpatriotic Dissent!

Incroyable....

After 8 years of arguing that Der BusHitler needed to defer to Congress, now the shoe is on the other foot and Caramba! it pinches!

What Chait really can't stand is that there are moderates in the Senate who are concerned with the opinions of their states and also like to support the economic interests and businesses located in their states. So Democrats elected from more conservative states like Kent Conrad of North Dakota or Ben Nelson of Kansas aren't jumping all over themselves to push through Obama's health care plans or cap and trade plan in a reconciliation package that would need only 50 votes instead of 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.

While I'd disagree with his premise that those vile Republicans are more willing than Democrats to push through their agenda, the major problem that Chait has with the Senate is that whole democracy thing. Dang those senators who are representing their constituents rather than the party. This is why we have a Senate and don't just have representatives elected at large or have the party select all the senators.

Sure the arcane rules of the Senate are a pain and antidemocratic. But you can't have it both ways and decry the filibuster when your party runs the place but celebrate the role of filibusters and holds when the other party is in control.

We have a two-party system and for a party to win it must encompass a very large tent. So the Democrats range from Evan Bayh and Kent Conrad to Barbara Boxer. That's what happens when you win a large majority - you have all sorts in the tent. And they'll have to govern with the party they have, not the party Jonathan Chait would like to have.

Does this sound familiar to anyone... say, on the Republican side of the aisle? It should, because we're sounding more like them (and they like us) every day. Everyone wants to hog the ball all of the time and no one wants to admit they can't win without a diverse coalition of voters who won't all march in lockstep ... especially when they're constantly being accused of Crimes Against Ideological Purity.

The Founding Fathers had much to say on that subject:

So numerous indeed and so powerful are the causes which serve to give a false bias to the judgment, that we, upon many occasions, see wise and good men on the wrong as well as on the right side of questions of the first magnitude to society. This circumstance, if duly attended to, would furnish a lesson of moderation to those who are ever so much persuaded of their being in the right in any controversy. And a further reason for caution, in this respect, might be drawn from the reflection that we are not always sure that those who advocate the truth are influenced by purer principles than their antagonists. Ambition, avarice, personal animosity, party opposition, and many other motives not more laudable than these, are apt to operate as well upon those who support as those who oppose the right side of a question. Were there not even these inducements to moderation, nothing could be more ill-judged than that intolerant spirit which has, at all times, characterized political parties. For in politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution.

And yet, however just these sentiments will be allowed to be, we have already sufficient indications that it will happen in this as in all former cases of great national discussion. A torrent of angry and malignant passions will be let loose. To judge from the conduct of the opposite parties, we shall be led to conclude that they will mutually hope to evince the justness of their opinions, and to increase the number of their converts by the loudness of their declamations and the bitterness of their invectives. An enlightened zeal for the energy and efficiency of government will be stigmatized as the offspring of a temper fond of despotic power and hostile to the principles of liberty. An over-scrupulous jealousy of danger to the rights of the people, which is more commonly the fault of the head than of the heart, will be represented as mere pretense and artifice, the stale bait for popularity at the expense of the public good. It will be forgotten, on the one hand, that jealousy is the usual concomitant of love, and that the noble enthusiasm of liberty is apt to be infected with a spirit of narrow and illiberal distrust. On the other hand, it will be equally forgotten that the vigor of government is essential to the security of liberty; that, in the contemplation of a sound and well-informed judgment, their interest can never be separated; and that a dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.

I'd laugh, but grief has an odd way of killing even the best joke.

Posted by Cassandra at March 30, 2009 01:41 PM

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Comments

In George Washington's farewell address he warned against the party system, for much of this very reason. A person (politician) who is a part of a political party many times has a hard time separating the interest of the party from the interest of the state.

Of course, he was George Washington. I mean, the man didn't need a party. For everyone else, getting elected without one is damn near impossible.

However, it doesn't change the fact that his warning was a true one. I know people who vote straight tickets, and for the life of me I can't figure out why.

Posted by: airforcewife at March 30, 2009 02:35 PM

I know that when I passionately believe something, the "rightness" of it is so clear to me that I often find it difficult to understand why the self-evident self-evidentness of it all isn't obvious to everyone on the planet :p

And then I look at the many folks I know who disagree with me politically but are kind, decent, honorable people who share many of the same values I do. Do I understand why they vote the way they do?

Hell, no. Do I think they're wrong? Hell, yes.

But I can look at them without seeing a bad person, or a stupid one, or an immoral one. I can do that without it for one instant lessening my conviction or weakening my commitment to the principles I believe in. I will continue to argue my positions forcefully and with passion, but also with awareness that last time I checked, I'm not perfect and don't have all the answers.

When I see (as I did once again this morning) conservatives arguing that two wrongs make a right or that it's OK to be an a**hole so long as you win, I have to admit that I'm not seeing a whole lot of daylight between "my side" and "the other side".

They, too, find it over-convenient to do exactly the things they've objected to, so long as it serves the end they're trying to achieve: winning.

Of course as we all know, turnabout is *not* fair play :p We're on the "right side", yanno, and that changes *everything* :p

Posted by: Cassandra at March 30, 2009 02:50 PM

If'n you aren't careful with all that *adult logic*, you're gonna end up here in the corner with me......and Carrie and Andi ate all the guac over the weekend.
Besides, we're not supposed to be worried about this now, remember? The Children are in charge now.....um.....wait, that's not it....oh, never mind.
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at March 30, 2009 03:22 PM

If someone can articulate what they believe and why to me, that's fine. Even if we fundamentally disagree, as long as there is thought process involved we may just be coming from a fundamentally different base belief about something.

Abortion is a perfect example of that. At some point, you either believe (a) or (b), and since neither can be truly proved scientifically beliefs diverge.

When approached that way, political disagreements don't provoke nearly as much rancor as what seems to be the current political mode of, "You suck! You're an idiot! I'm right! Shut up!"

The problem is that people don't want to take the time to actually examine their beliefs. They don't want what is *best* for everyone, they want to *win*. At least, that seems to be the driving rationale right now.

I hope this changes.

Posted by: airforcewife at March 30, 2009 04:05 PM

The problem is that people don't want to take the time to actually examine their beliefs.

The other problem is that *beliefs* are almost impossible to change, except when you're faced with irrefutable evidence. It's easy to deny that three-day-old fish stink when you've never gotten closer to a deceased fish than poached tilapia in a tony restaurant -- and one day you go for a stroll in Secaucus at low tide.

*Opinions*, on the other hand, can be swayed with logic or changed through -- as you said -- actually taking the time to examine them, objectively.

Those who were of the *opinion* that the Dems deserved their shot because the Repubs had lost their way are even now suffering the pangs of buyers' remorse. Those who *believe* that the Dems deserved to win because the Dems wear white hats will continue to so believe until they, personally, get whapped in the face once too often...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9SSOWORzw4

Posted by: BillT at March 30, 2009 04:51 PM

I've often opined that it would be a good thing if we had more than two viable political parties in this country.

I haven't seen much (if anything) to change my mind on that subject...

Posted by: camojack at March 31, 2009 03:54 AM

The only problem with >2 parties is political instability.

If you think the present party in opposition does nothing but attack and obstruct the party in power, try that scenario when no winning candidate gets a clear mandate. Europe is on a multiparty system, but they never do seem to get anything much done.

But, what do y'all think?

Posted by: Cassandra at March 31, 2009 11:38 AM

EuroPolitics is like Baskin-Robbins -- 28 flavors.

The coalitions the various flavors form in order to attain some sort of majority produce some interesting results -- they're often colorful, but usually unpalatable...

Posted by: BillT at March 31, 2009 12:01 PM

Agree that the Euro B-R model/food-fight leaves me cold.

I'm fond of the notion of term limits...

Posted by: Manchurian Bubba-hun at March 31, 2009 12:37 PM

I'm fond of term limits, too. But, I wonder if an equitable time frame is possible. I've heard of a proposal for six 2 yr terms for Rep.'s and two 6 yr terms for Senators. While that *sounds* reasonable, it still means being stuck for a possible 12 years with the same person -- a full term longer than the POTUS is allowed. 12 years is a long time to be dancing with devil in DC....

Posted by: DL Sly at March 31, 2009 01:08 PM

Maybe Senate terms should be four years instead of six. Then a consistent maximum of eight years in office for any congress widget could be applied. Effectively the same as the office of the PotUS.

Posted by: Manchurian Bubba-hun at March 31, 2009 01:14 PM

I had considered throwing that out there....
The problem I see with that is that it would need to be worked to avoid the possibility of having all three *houses* in DC being changed out at once. I realize that it would be very unlikely that every member of Congress would change at once, but vast majority changes in both houses and a new POTUS could be a hornet's nest waiting to be poked. I can see big problems with all of them trying to get up-to-speed at once, especially within the area of national security. The obvious solution would be to have them off-set, but given what the "campaign season" has metastasized into, do we really want periennial campaigning? (A "political" JC Penney White Sale, if you will) If it's not the POTUS one year, it'd be Senators or House members. (heh, she said member....heh hehheh hehhehhhhhhh) I had already developed a horrible case of Campaign Ad Tourette's syndrome by mid-September last year.....
*sigh*
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at March 31, 2009 02:03 PM

"I had already developed a horrible case of Campaign Ad Tourette's syndrome by mid-September last year....."
I hear ya. I too
#$!T$# &^#$&* @#$(__+
have residual
$%@% !@#$##
outburst, from time to time.
%@$R#$ (^*! $^

I've the impression that we've already entered into the age of perpetual political posturing, campaigning and fund raising to the great detriment of making serious efforts to address the nation's bid'ness. I'm not sure how it could be much worse. Even so, I'm sure our political class could find a way.

But for me, in order to drain the methane-swamp, I would be happy to suffer 3-6 months of concentrated campaigning every two years. Campaigning consisting of mandatory town hall debates along with ample opportunities for the citizens to question the prospects, nose to nose.

That and an informed electorate. I know... but I can dream, can't I?

Posted by: Manchurian Bubba-hun at March 31, 2009 04:06 PM

The only problem with >2 parties is political instability.
If you think the present party in opposition does nothing but attack and obstruct the party in power, try that scenario when no winning candidate gets a clear mandate. Europe is on a multiparty system, but they never do seem to get anything much done.
But, what do y'all think?
Posted by: Cassandra at March 31, 2009 11:38 AM

When you contemplate the "big picture" of what Congrefs does get done, you might come to think (as I do) that never seeming "to get anything much done" may not be such a bad thing, after all. All things considered an' all...

Posted by: camojack at April 1, 2009 03:47 AM

"When you contemplate the "big picture" of what Congrefs does get done, you might come to think (as I do) that never seeming "to get anything much done" may not be such a bad thing, after all. All things considered an' all..."
Heheh. I've often thought that giving Congress a raise in pay to remain in recess might be in the best interest of the citizens of our nation... And I think it would be a bargain at twice their current salary. Or as another fellow once said,
"No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session. "
Samuel Langhorne Clemens

Posted by: bthun at April 1, 2009 08:43 AM

"No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session."
Samuel Langhorne Clemens
Posted by: bthun at April 1, 2009 08:43 AM

Mark Twain was an amazing man.

Posted by: camojack at April 2, 2009 03:59 AM

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