Evan Bayh (D-IN) decided not to run for the Senate next November. We know this now. Initially he gave a brief statement saying for the most part he didn’t want to participate in a broken system anymore. We can say, what a wimp. Everyone knows that politics is a contact sport. It is not for the feint of heart for sure, dude. You know, if you can’t handle the heat and so on and so on. After the head shaking, I am left with thinking that maybe he is right about the brokenness of government. Maybe we are witnessing the beginning of the decline of this Republic.
In Saturday’s New York Times, Sen. Bayh wrote an op-ed piece to explain in more detail why he was leaving the Senate, plus providing solutions to his reasons why he will quit the senate. I think it is worth my time to take a look at a few of his points and comment. I hope you can comment on my comments on Bayh’s comments.
Congress must be reformed.
There are many causes for the dysfunction: strident partisanship, unyielding ideology, a corrosive system of campaign financing, gerrymandering of House districts, endless filibusters, holds on executive appointees in the Senate, dwindling social interaction between senators of opposing parties and a caucus system that promotes party unity at the expense of bipartisan consensus.
This should be painfully obvious to anyone who follows politics or the un-action of Congress. If Tom Coburn (R-OK) can be believed in a recent statement we are in deep doo-doo. “In the Senate, you can be a pain in the rear, and I am, I guarantee it,” Coburn said. He said every day that a new bill is not passed is a better day for the nation […]
Coburn seems to love gridlock when nothing gets done.
“I love gridlock,” Coburn said. “I think we’re better off when we’re gridlocked because we’re not passing things.”
Then that’s where they (you can put in whichever “they” is most appropriate for you) are. Does this sound like a good thing to you? Obstruction? If the President is for it, we are against it, no matter what it is. But there is some hope as Bayh said Monday. He likes the new senator from Mass, Scott Brown whom he says may be the “ultimate cure” for partisan gridlock in Washington. Brown’s vote on Monday in the Senate to bring the jobs bill to the floor against the will of the majority of his Republican party may indicate that Bayh’s prediction has legs. Glimmers of hope from the right…not enough to warm campers but a glimmer none the less. After Coburn’s remarks though, we as citizens should be taking to the streets of Washington with pitch forks and torches demanding that our Congressmen (and women) work to earn their bread.
Is it just a game? Can it be, that they, elected politicians are thinking of themselves first rather than the good of the people whom they represent? I am shocked I tell you, shocked!
Bayh also addressed the money issue. Getting elected creates a perpetual campaign fundraiser cycle. In the senate it is estimated that it takes $10-20 million to get elected. That’s a lot of money don’t you think? Does money corrupt? Gee whiz. Of course, he also brought up my favorite sore spot, the right-leaning Supreme Court’s recent decision about corporations. Bayh addresses this.
The recent Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, allowing corporations and unions to spend freely on ads explicitly supporting or opposing political candidates, will worsen matters. The threat of unlimited amounts of negative advertising from special interest groups will only make members more beholden to their natural constituencies and more afraid of violating party orthodoxies.
I think this is just common sense thinking. Imagine you or I contribute our $25 or $50 bucks to a candidate vs. a corporation who can funnel a ton of money through second and third parties covering the identity of the original corporate donor (or buyer, if you want to take it to the extreme). Now who do you think the politician will listen to?
He ends his op-ed with a request and a challenge from the members of congress and we, the people.
What is required from members of Congress and the public alike is a new spirit of devotion to the national welfare beyond party or self-interest. In a time of national peril, with our problems compounding, we must remember that more unites us as Americans than divides us.
Is there hope? I don’t know. Money and undue influence needs to be removed from the political process, I know that. Is it worth fighting for? This Republic of ours? What will it take? The Barbarians are at the gates of Rome.