Passing Legislations in Congress – A Miracle or a Menace?

February 7, 2010

By Padmini Arhant

Democratic system around the world share many characteristics in essence. They are positive and negative in variable proportions. However, the constant problem in a democracy is arriving at a consensus on legislative matter between the rival political parties in power.

Both the Parliamentary and the Presidential form of governments are uniquely creative in their disagreement with the respective opponents. For instance, frequently in Taiwan and recently in India, the argument transform into a spectacle with heavy fistfights and wrestling among the legislators causing a commotion in the session.

United Kingdom Parliamentarians mock in chorus and Australia follows suit to identify with their ascendants.

In the United States, the opponents’ presentation is dramatic in a ‘show and tell,’ setting with a hyperbole characterization of the policy. Somehow, the critics fail to find any beneficial element in the bill. The fault is detected not so much in policy as noted during the health care legislation.

Opposition debate deviated from the content to the weight of the bill, in itself turning into a filibuster.

The irony of it is the lawmakers become the lawbreakers by letting their passion override reasoning.

Shifting focus on the various reforms pending legislations, the prevalent partisanship is no revelation.

However, the double standards among the conservatives on both sides is intriguing as observed in the House bill – HR 1207 introduced by Republican representative Ron Paul to audit the Federal Reserve.

The House Financial Services Committee approved Rep. Ron Paul’s measure by 43-26, calling the government to audit the Federal Reserve.

Legislation received the Republican minority’s overwhelming response as well as the democrats’ cooperation in this issue. In this context, the Republican members accepted the government intervention as necessary and appropriate.

Contrarily, the Finance Reform bill favoring the stand-alone consumer financial protection agency initiated by President Obama is slighted by the Republican minority as the government “take over.”

Evidently, the republican members’ conduct thus far – reveals their opposition to the party and not the policy.

With respect to health care reform, President Barack Obama reached out to the republican minority and the conservative democrats by requesting them to set their differences aside with the democrat majority.

The President even offered to incorporate the “TORT” reform touted all along as the republican idea to contain health care costs.

TORT reform is useful in trimming the health care costs and should be part of the legislation.

Yet, the only agreement reached between both parties is to bury the bill, since compromise is considered concession by the opposition party with no other viable solutions.

Similarly, with the deficit reduction the republican senate defeated the President’s effort to set up a bipartisan committee comprising the legislators and the fiscal experts to devise methods in national debt management.

Their non-conciliatory response has now forced the President to move ahead with the independent commission to address the issue.

Conveniently, the President is criticized for not attempting to deal with the national debt by the “fiscal conservatives,” playing partisanship in the legislative role.

It’s clear that there is no true intention among these members to serve the national interest; otherwise, they would be sensitive to the public plight and vote for the necessary reform in finance, health care and environment.

The only way to circumvent this gridlock is to adopt the legitimate avenues accessed by the opposition when they were the majority. There appears to be no other option available with the self-interest and the special interest reining in on national progress.

Unfortunately, the unity among the Republican members and the division in the democratic side threatening to vote against the health care and financial reform bills is detrimental to national cause, with a guaranteed backlash against the default members in the November elections.

It’s important for the national voice to convey the message to these legislators evading their constitutional oath to serve the people electing them to the public office. The electorate message has to be loud and clear with a deadline to pass legislations.

In the absence of public outcry, the “Change we can believe in,” could never be brought upon in the State or the national level.

President and the House majority leader could exhaust the power and resources at their disposal to convince the resisting members in Congress. Nevertheless, the ultimate power lies with the people to urge their representatives to act on their behalf by voting for the health care, finance reform and the climate bill.

People should understand that the legislators in Washington and the State Capitol have job descriptions and the primary responsibility is to represent the people electing them to the office and not the self or the campaign financiers.

The fundamental responsibility for the lawmakers is to cast their vote to help improve the citizens’ lives, which is currently not preferable because the ‘nay’ Sayers are comfortable with the job security and know they will be re-elected by swift boating their opponent.

Such possibility is made even easier with the Supreme Court conservative justices’ decision that has granted license to Corporations, Unions etc… to assist ‘trouble makers’ in Congress represent their interests rather than the voters’ welfare.

Therefore, it’s entirely dependent on the people to fix the broken system in Washington and the State Capitol. They need to impose the ‘performance based’ criteria in Washington, verify each legislator’s record to confirm whom they really represent and vote accordingly during elections.

An ‘average’ citizen is fired for lack of productivity and Wall Street has no patience towards the workers’ genuine circumstances when axing jobs.

That being the case,

Why should the people in a democracy with the ultimate power in their hands be extremely tolerant to the combined forces’ (Washington and Wall Street) consistent practices that neglects the people over profit?

These basic questions needs to be urgently addressed by the people. Remember each one of us possess the leadership quality to lead the family, workers and colleagues at work place, community, state and the nation.

What is required is initiative and that has to come from within. If every individual poses the questions’ raised above and take action not only for personal salvation but for others as well, then the issues like corruption, cronyism, and injustice…could be eradicated from the political and social system.

Then democracy would be protected from these deadly carcinogens.

Something to think about and take action to release oneself from the economic and social shackles.

With the nation captivated by the “Super Bowl XLIV” event,

I take leave for now and,

Wish Good Luck to both teams – Colts and Saints.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant


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