Saturday, February 6, 2010

Stopping a System That Didn't Work Anyway

Richard Shelby (right) has completely gummed up the works.>

I have argued for some time that our country has reached a state of permanent ungovernability. Evidence is everywhere and with the disclosure this week that one Alabama Senator is holding our government hostage until his ransom demands are met (two expensive installations in his state), I rest my case.

The Senate has been under the complete control of its absurd and anti-republican (little "r") 60 percent rule for years and, as Tim Rutten points out in a Feb. 5 L.A. Times editorial, Congress has not passed a major piece of social legislation since 1965 (the Civil Rights bill, which guys like Richard Shelby of Alabama--see above--would have fought waving their stars and bars until it unraveled). It's not that we haven't had problems in 45 years, it's that we have had few committed Americans in Congress in 45 years and those who have shown some fortitude have been buried by arcane Senate rules that prevent a majority from ruling.

When the Brown guy unexpectedly won the Massachusetts Senate seat vacated by Sen. Ted Kennedy (who fought for healthcare legislation starting in, get this, 1965) last week, the Village Voice headlined the win, "Republicans Take Control of Senate, 41-59." Simple, sad fact: that's the truth. A 59-41 percent win in an election is a landslide; in the Senate, it's a dead bill.

Rutten points out that a Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey reveals 38 percent of voters have favorable appraisal of the Democratic Party; 30 percent think the GOP is doing well. Forty-five percent of Republicans disapprove of their party's congressional delegation. Twenty-four percent of Americans trust congressional Republicans and 32 percent trust Democrats, "to make the right decisions for the country's future." That appears to be a whopper of a win for the Dems—with less than a third of the electorate approving. It is actually a loss for all of us.

My business partner and friend Tom Field, a Libertarian (to my Socialist) is in a constant state of declaring a pox on both houses (of Congress) and I'm inclined to agree with him these days. I have, by default, paired up with Democrats in recent years, but with two wars still going on, a financial situation that simply defies rational explanation and a totally dysfunctional government at every level (even the Supreme Court is the most unapologetically politicized since the FDR packing in the 1930s), my loyalty has evaporated.

Like so many Americans, I simply want somebody with normal-sized love of country to ride in and kick somebody's ass. Start with Richard Shelby. Go down the line. There are more than 500 people in Congress alone who could use it.


  1. It's important that this gets publicized, because a lot of people seem to think this is the way things have always been, part of the Founders intent that we shouldn't mess with. It's not, and we should. It doesn't have to be like this.

  2. Craig: This is far more a symptom of a serious, spreading disease than it is indicative of anything intended by Founding Fathers or any other Fathers or Mothers. It's greedy, self-absorbed, counter-productive and stupid.

  3. Since we used to have the simple majority rule in the Senate, the VP would cast the deciding vote in case of a tie. Why do we need the VP to oversee the Senate any more? He has no say, no vote, nothing. Sigh.

  4. Well said Dan. Throw all the bums out.

  5. Rod: Why insult bums by comparing them to congressmen?