"Rank-and-file lawmakers of both parties are often unable to see
legislation until the vote is upon them ... Both houses have rules designed to prevent this sort
of governing by ambush. But these are routinely swept aside in the interest of swift passage, however uninformed."-- Washington Post
THE HOUSE REPUBLICANS' manipulation of the Medicare vote was characteristic of the bullying, win-by-any-means style
that has become the congressional norm. More than at any time during their nine years in control, congressional Republicans
have been unabashed in their exercise of raw political power. However poisonous relations between the parties were heading
into the 108th Congress, this session has witnessed levels of partisanship unhealthy not only for both sides but for the people
they're supposed to represent. ...
The incarceration of
Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has prompted editorial writers across America to lament the withering state of democratic
institutions in Russia. Less observed and less reported are the relentless attacks on our own governing intuitions
by a radical, reckless congressional leadership which threatens to weaken our own democracy. Just last Saturday,
after the House voted to reject the Medicare bill, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) held open a roll call vote, scheduled
to last 15 minutes, for an unprecedented three hours, from 3 to 6 a.m. During that time Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-Texas)
and others strongarmed bleary-eyed Republicans who had voted against the bill, demanding they switch their vote. As night
became morning, Delay wore his opposition down, votes switched, and the bill passed by a narrow margin.
handling of the Medicare vote in the House is only the most recent example of a larger pattern. Over the last few years, conservative
leaders hell-bent on consolidating power have taken every political and legislative opportunity to push an ideological agenda
・never letting a commitment to democratic principles or bi-partisanship get in the way of a chance to score political
points. The result is an environment where compromise is precluded, reconciliation is elusive, sound public policy is a rarity
and democratic traditions are routinely cast-aside. ...
John Podesta is the President
and CEO of the Center for American Progress.
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