Sunday, March 14, 2010

Counting Your Votes Before They are Hatched

For the last few days, we keep hearing about how many votes "they" have on The health care mess. And, depending on who last spoke, maybe it can pass, maybe not. But, either way, this endless pre-voting that Congress does is not only suspect at best, it is a direct abrogation of the purpose of Congress.

By the way, "they" are Pelosi, Boehner, Reid and McConnell. The people that are slowly eating away at truly representative government. But that is another rant for a different day.

For all too long, the leadership in both houses has taken to counting and announcing counts of votes before the legislation comes to the floor. Then, once the so-called leaders are satisfied with the count, they schedule a long debate during which many passionate speeches are made, but not one mind is changed. Not one vote moves, not one.

If the idea of Congress is to debate the issue and then vote, then why the prolonged vote games? Well, it is simple. Neither side wants to appear to lose. And some members of the Congress prefer to play coy until the last moment in the hopes that they can be the deciding vote and get all the free PR.

See, it stopped being about governance a long time age and became a large, expensive chessboard on which Democrats and Republicans, bloated with power and egos that challenge the sun for attention, play out their sad games at our expense.

Given the more than a year of debate, multiple rewrites and endless hearings, they should simply put the health care thing to a vote. Up or down. Yea or Nay. Not this prolonged passion play in which Pelosi and Boehner trade jabs via an all too willing press. Nopt the declarations of deadlines. Want a deadline Madame Speaker? Schedule the damned vote, already. And keep it scheduled. Let the bill come to the floor and be voted on in the House. According to the rules, there is a Senate bill pending a House vote. Well, vote!

On the Senate side, the same thing. Bring it to the floor. If the minority has the needed 41 votes, then let an actual filibuster run. Let the process work. If the vote is to use reconciliation withing the rules, then have the vote. Let both sides make a case and then have an honest vote. On the issues and not the ideology.

This is exactly what is wrong with Congress. They are all way too worried about posturing to remember that they are the employees, not the employers. They forget that their primary, Constitutional duty is to vote on legislation. Not to quibble and wheedle. Not to pre-count votes. Not to assure a victory or defeat.

The job is to debate and then vote on the legislation. Period. If it passes, it passes. If it fails, it fails. See, that is the point of representative democracy.

And, our job, come November, is to vote. Vote them all out of office. They have performed poorly. Were they line employees, they would have long ago been fired. Well, their human resources department meets in November. And we should prepare a lot of exit interviews for a lot of bad representatives and senators.

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