The American electorate has watched their federal government at work for about nine months now in regard to the healthcare debate. Emotions associated with those observations have ranged from indifference to hostility, as some are barely aware of the proceedings while others on both sides have informed themselves and are now “mad as hell.”
Those of us who have involved ourselves in the process have seen all manner of shenanigans that are new to us, and disappointing at least to me. We have seen “tea party” rallies erupt into violence. We have seen our elected “representatives” turn a deaf, if not hostile, ear, when our message was not what those inside the Washington beltway had indoctrinated them with as being what they would hear and wanted to hear. More recently we have seen cloture votes bought and paid for via unique provisions of the legislation, when a few weeks ago most of us didn’t know what “cloture” was. We’ve seen and heard the traditional media outlets report nothing, or untruths.
Debate on the bill has now begun, and we’ve seen all manner of gamesmanship, political methodology to either expedite or delay the process –
“We don’t need to know what this thing says. Let’s just vote on it.”
“I object. Read the amendment from cover to cover.”
“I withdraw the amendment” halfway through its reading, and in clear violation of the Senate rulebook and parliamentary procedure.
We’ve seen pressure applied by the White House. We’ve heard the President say that the bill doesn’t have to include everything he wants in it, because at this point it is more important to pass “something” rather than go down in defeat.
We’ve heard Nancy Pelosi asked if Congressional actions were constitutional, to which she replied “are you kidding?” We’ve heard Mary Landrieu asked if Congressional actions were constitutional, to which she replied “we have lawyers to sort that out.”
In other words, they don’t care, for they are above such trivia as the Constitution of the United States.
We’ve heard that the bill and amendments being debated on the floor of the Senate are irrelevant, because the real legislation is being drafted behind a locked door by a partisan group.
We’ve read of public opinion polls that say most of us don’t approve of the way the President is running the country, that even fewer of us approve of the way Congress is legislating, and that the vast majority of us don’t want healthcare reform that looks anything like this bill; yet it continues.
Anything goes. Whatever it takes is acceptable. Victory at any cost.
Is this the American legislative process that we all studied in high school Civics class? I don’t think so. This is the legislative process that results from career politicians learning the games and developing new ones so as to enhance the chances of success for themselves and their lobbyists.
What we are observing here is a clear mandate for term limits in the House and the Senate. This is an example of experience on the job being detrimental to the process.
While I agree that this form of healthcare reform needs to be defeated by whatever means, my observations of this process have convinced me that we need to sweep out the Capitol and start fresh with sincere, altruistic representatives who want to serve, and only for a few years before returning to the private sector. We need to elect people who will truly represent us, will listen to us and work with us, and who will pass meaningful legislation and retract meaningless legislation because they don’t know how to play the game. We need to elect people whose work will be transparent and for which they are willing to be held accountable, because they haven’t learned how to hide.