Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Is this how the system should work?

Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina has vowed to block all legislation not cleared by his office in the time remaining before Congress goes on recess to campaign before the midterm elections.

The inevitable question to ask is not how or why this should be allowed, what the partisan calculation is, or the value to the entire country of this sort of strategy. Rather, we should wonder:

(1) Would the Founding Fathers have imagined or wished for this kind of vow?
(2) Can our system continue to function given this kind of strategy by any Senator of either party?

DeMints actions might be construed as "restrain[ing], if possible, the fury of democracy", the laudable goal of the Senate articulated by Edmund Randolph. But can a modern government, with all its intricacies, function with this degree of restraint? Should it? Certainly, further adventures into the realm of obstructionism will occur, and their effects will be felt by all Americans...but for the positive, in restraining an over-arching and bloated federal government, or for the negative, by crippling the ability of the Senate to act on time-sensitive or divisive issues?

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