With the advent of November elections near and a Republican majority in Congress imminent, the Democrats, like Joseph Biden (D-Delware), have gone scrambling trying to place blame on everyone short of themselves. With health care dead and buried, Clinton's approval ratings slipping lower and anti-Washington grass roots sentiment brimming, Democrats have correctly credited the conservative Republican for congressional obstructionism. This congressional term has seen the largest tax increase in the last 14 years, a governmental attempt to takeover one-seventh the Gross National Product, more entitlement spending in the name of crime prevention, and more importantly, a shift away from self-reliance in favor of a larger and more paternalistic governmental role. Democrats blame conservative Republicans for gridlock. Is that criticism accurate and moreover, can't gridlock be good?
The liberal Democrats can complain and blame Republicans for obstructionism and filibustering but the Democrats control every committee in the House, Senate and have a Democrat in the White House. So why haven't many of the President's programs passed? They have not passed because of gridlock. But it is not inter-partisan gridlock, but intra-partisan gridlock. Many conservative Democrats in the South disagree with a lot of very liberal Democrats from the northeastern and Hollywood elite. Many middle-class Americans agree that Washington under Clinton's leadership is going in the wrong direction. Can the liberal Democrats be so arrogant as not to expect successful opposition from those that disagree?
The constitutional intent of government's proper role is a limited one that changes very slowly. Our country's founding fathers viewed "government at its best as a necessary evil and at its worst a tyrannous one." Many at or shortly after that time witnessed large autocratic European governments legislate ideology in the form of religious intolerance of the Thirty Years War, the class envy that ended in state mandated genocide of the French Revolution and private citizens or subjects had sever restrictions on personal liberty in the form of huge taxes placed upon them and found difficulty in obtaining and protecting private property. So we, in America, were blessed with a government that was by design inefficient, limited and conducive to conflict and gridlock.
Our founding fathers knew the strength of the law by how it was abused. They knew if a law was to be good, more than a majority would have to approve. Hence, we use a filibuster in the Senate to empower a sizeable minority. If nothing else, the filibuster gave legislators and their constituents time to study the bill closely. Oftentimes, bills are voted on without legislators or their staffs not even reading the bill they approved. But that didn't happen this congressional term.
Others envision the role of government acting for the private citizenry what they themselves can't do for themselves. A private citizen can't apprehend, incarcerate, or terminate those that infringe on his personal freedom or private property without great cost to himself. But a private citizen can feed, educate and provide himself with adequate health care. The private citizenry can do without the social programs that the Democrats have proposed that failed this congressional term.
When then-President George Bush took office in 1992, he pledged to end gridlock. His pledge caused him to compromise his "no new taxes" promise and which in turn resulted in the end of his presidency. If we can learn anything from him, we can learn that gridlock isn't always bad. If we can take anything from this last congressional term, with socialized medicine dead,we can learn that gridlock is good.
These new elections will bring the 40 years of Democratic Party domination to the House and Senate to close. Republicans will be elected en masse to fill congressional seats in response to the Clinton policies that have angered the American people. We can thank Senators Phil Gramm (R-Texas) and Bob Dole (R-Texas) for their obstruction in blocking Clinton, Kennedy, Mitchell and Biden. There's a good chance that Bill Clinton will not win the Democratic nomination for President in 1996. There's also a greater chance that the Republicans will win the presidency in 1996. With Republican control of the House, the Senate and the Presidency, will that mean an end to gridlock? For democracy's sake, I hope not.
James Bretney is a junior.
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