Monday, March 01, 2010

A Republic, if you can keep it.

Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying that our nation was a Republic after the Constitutional Convention in 1787.

In order to be a Republic, the Government must be representative of the people. Otherwise, we have a different type of Government all together.

I thought of that quote this morning when I was reading David Frum's latest opinion piece at CNN. David Frum wants to bring back the good old days of Congress, where smoke filled back room deals are what made Legislation happen.

Yet David forgets, that the reason the "reforms" that he denounces happened, is that people weren't happy with those backroom deals that he states were much better than modern gridlock. He points to the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Voting Rights Acts which passed as backroom deals. Yet during the same period, many bad laws passed as well, and many bad things happened as a result of the lack of transparency.

There was Watergate of course, where Congress sat on the sidelines until the Press had done a vast majority of the investigation. Then they went after Nixon, who was stupid enough to play into the hands of Congress by ordering people to lie to cover up his first lie, to cover up the Burglary that he didn't order.

There was the cover up of the Golf Class Soviet Submarine sinking, and the creation of the Glomar Explorer as part of Project Jennifer.

There was the Gulf of Tonkin incident which led Congress to get us involved in Viet-Nam, and then there was the inaction of Congress when the North Vietnam broke the treaty and invaded South Vietnam.

There was the Space Race, which led to the creation of NASA. There was the curtailing of that exploration, which led to the limited capacity of the Space Shuttle, which was to be limited by Congress's authorization to research and build it, to Low Earth Orbit.

I could go on and on and on about things that either Congress authorized, Legislated, or required, that went contrary to the Publics own good.

David Frum in desire to have Congress do something, forgets that all too often, those backroom deals have led to Congress doing the wrong thing.

The age of transparency and of representatives who are answerable to the public is much preferred. Because if we had a Congress that still did the back room deals, then what could we have now? Immigration reform would have passed easily. No one would have sent a brick to congress, because no one would have known the details. Congress would slap a misleading name on it, and that would have been all we the people would have known.

Gridlock Mr. Frum seems to say, is a bad thing. He believes we need a Congress that does anything, as often as possible.

I say Gridlock is a good thing, even a great thing. Because that means that when Congress does act, they do the right thing, the right way. Those who wish for Reform, can educate the people as to why they want it. Ronald Reagan sold the AMERICAN PEOPLE on Tax reforms. Congress opposed him. Reagan created the ground swell of public support, and got the people behind it. Congress had to act on that Public Demand. They gave Reagan nearly all of what he wanted.

Open and responsive Government Mr. Frum, has led to some wonderful things. It often doesn't lead to the Oppressive and restrictive governments that we see elsewhere. If my choice is a congress that does everything behind closed doors, and give me lots of legislation, and a Congress that does everything in the open, and passes very little legislation. I'll take the very little route. Change may be slower, but it's the right change, for the right reasons.

That way, the headquarters for NASA isn't put into Houston, while the Rocket Test Facility is in Alabama, and the launch facility is in Florida. Those Geographic choices weren't made just because Florida was a good place to launch Rockets from. The Senators in those states that had to vote for NASA wanted a piece of the Pie. Senator Lyndon Johnson of Texas wanted a piece of the pie. Senator Sparkman of Alabama wanted a piece of the pie. So Huntsville, a sleepy little town, became Rocket City USA. Houston became home of the NASA Administration Headquarters, and Astronaut Training Center.

Is this the way we should get things done? The good old days of backroom deals with the quote most often heard. "What's in it for me?"

Mr. Frum, those landmark pieces of legislation may have been impressive, and even milestones in legislative history. However, you can't seriously believe that backroom deals are better than public interest in, and activism in the legislative process.

As I said before. I would prefer that we not get much of anything done in Congress, because most of what they do screws up the lives of the citizens.

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