Gridlock Is Good
March 1, 2010
By Humphrey Stevenson
When Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) announced that he would not seek re-election he declared, "For some time, I've had a growing conviction that Congress is not operating as it should. There is much too much partisanship and not enough progress; too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem-solving. Even at a time of enormous national challenge, the people's business is not getting done."
There have been some political pundits that have speculated the real reason was that he is eyeing a run for the Presidency although Bayh himself has flatly denied this. The theory is that if Bayh wants to run, he must first distance himself from the walking disaster that is the Obama administration.
But let's take Senator Bayh at his word and assume that his concern with Congress is this partisan gridlock and he would like to see more bipartisanship. Touting something as bipartisan is a favorite ploy of the left, for example, Obama's new bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. It looks to me to be nothing more than political cover for Obama's tax increases but he sprinkled it with a few Republicans and called it bipartisan in order to ward off any criticism.
After newly-minted Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) voted for Harry Reid's $15 billion "Jobs" bill he said, "I hope my vote today is a strong step toward restoring bipartisanship in Washington." With all due respect to Senator Brown, bipartisanship is highly overrated. It, more times than not, means Republicans abandon their principles and go along with a liberal proposal just to get something done. If they do not, the Republicans are portrayed as obstructionists. However, being an obstructionist is not necessarily negative; it all depends on what is being obstructed; Obamacare, cap and trade, runaway spending are all worthy of being obstructed.
The Democrats have labeled the Republicans as the party of "No." Their meaning is that the Republicans are just opposed to everything this administration proposes without reason and offer no alternatives. This is simply not true. For example, the Republicans have offered many proposals regarding healthcare and placed them on a website. I don't agree with all of their ideas but they have made the proposals.
Senator Bayh also makes the point that "the peoples business is not getting done." This is a common refrain and usually means that some party agenda items are not being passed into law. But who's to say what the peoples' business is? Just because Congress is not busy passing bills does not mean that this is any problem for the people. Recently, Congress was not in session for several days due to massive snow storms in the DC area. I don't recall any major problems that could not be handled with the laws currently on the books.
The American people are not in need of constant Congressional action. In most instances, the people are better off without it. Americans are an incredibly self-reliant people and usually government action is the cause of any dependence.
There is the idea that the people elected Barack Obama and they get what they wanted. It is quite possible that the people did not know who they were electing. It is also fair to say that the people were not given much of a choice; a liberal "D" or a liberal "R." It is further possible they were caught up in the historic nature of the election, the dynamic speeches and the promise of "Hope and Change" without any substantive definition of those terms. Now that the people have had time to look at who they have elected, they hope for a way to hold the agenda in check until they can make a change.
We do not live in a pure democracy. We elect a President not a king and he does not get free reign to implement any agendas item he wants simply because he got more votes in an election. As John Adams put it, "We have a government of laws, and not of men."
As a football fan, I understand the idea of playing for field position. Sometimes that's the best you can do. Gridlock is good. Gridlock can preserve liberty. Gridlock can prevent a destructive, radical agenda from being implemented until the people can make a correction. Hopefully, we can keep Obama's team bottled up inside their five yard line and force them to punt in November.