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Monday, May 28, 2007

Dysfunctional Ballot- Dysfunctional Congress- Dysfunctional Government

"The Democrats should not have caved in to the president. They should have continued to send him bills with a timeline for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. So he vetoes them. Eventually the president himself would cut off funds for the troops."

"As an alternative, Congress could inform the president that unless he accepts a timetable for withdrawal, Congress will stop funding the war. If the Democrats are sincere in their claimed desire to end the war, this is the way to do it."

"The power of the purse rests firmly in the hands of Congress. No matter what the president desires to do, if Congress refuses to fund it, the president is helpless. He cannot spend a dime that Congress has not authorized and appropriated."
- Charley Reese
May 28, 2007

Saying that there were not enough votes to over-ride a Presidential veto was an excuse not a reason for caving in.

It is possible that the habit of servility in the Congress is too deep among long-time incumbents that no other outcome could have been expected and that does seem closer to a reason than hiding behind the veil of the veto. Still the habit of Congressional servility does not explain the votes of many of the new House Democrats. Consider these votes from Thursday night on the Iraq supplemental. And remember it was a supplemental. The bill would not have shut down the Department of Defense.

Those voting 'Aye' to set a timeline for withdrawal:
Michael Arcuri, NY
Bruce Braley, Iowa
Kathy Castor, FL
Yvette Clark. NY
Steve Cohen, TN
Joe Courtney, CT
Keith Ellison, MN
John Hall, NY
Phil Hare, Ill
Mazie Hirono, HI
Paul Hodes, NH
Henry Johnson, GA
Ron Klein, FL
David Loebsack, Iowa
Jerry McNerney, CA
Chris Murphy, CT
Patrick Murphy, PA
Ed Perlmutter, CO
John Sarbanes, MD
Carol Shea-Porter, NH
Betty Sutton, OH
Peter Welch, VT
John Yarmuth, KY
That's 23 for Congressional authority.

Those caving-in:
Jason Altmire, PA
Nancy Borda, KS
Chris Carney, PA
Joe Donnelly, IN
Brad Ellsworth, IN
Gabrielle Giffords, AZ
Kirsten Gillibrand, NY
Baron Hill, IN
Steve Kagen, WI
Nicholas Lampson, TX
Tim Mahoney, FL
Harry Mitchell, AZ
Ciro Rodriguez, TX
Heath Shuler, NC
Zackary Space, OH
Timothy Walz, MN
Charles Wilson, OH
That's 17 cave-ins to Presidential power over the Constitutional authority of the Congress.

The point here is that it doesn't matter whether you think the war in Iraq should continue or stop. Under the Constitution, if a majority of the House wants to stop spending money on anything, then the spending has to stop. Whether you or I think they are right or wrong is supposed be settled at the ballot box.

But what if the ballot box no longer serves to discipline the U.S. House of Representatives? Then, the electoral system is fatally dysfunctional. That makes the House dysfunctional and that allows a dysfunctional President to rule autocratically. That means the Constitutional order has collapsed into mere semblances of any democratic check on dictatorship. The only check on a reckless President is his own calculations of what he can get away with before provoking civil disobedience and rebellion. This authoritarian insecurity leads to more and more ruthless methods of a police state.

If you can't fix what's wrong with the ballot box, you must resort to 'other means'. The issue now is: can the ballot box be restored to full functionality?

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