For the past two years the American people have been virtual bystanders in the legislative process of their representative government. Republicans in the minority have been blocking every hint of forward progress that has come across the Senate floor in an effort to make President Obama ‘a one term president,’ according to republican leader Mitch McConnell.
But after making a deal with leadership on tax cuts for the rich, the gridlock that had been strangling Congress for the past two years suddenly stopped, much to the surprise of the country. In a single day, DADT, the military ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the US military, the START nuclear arms treaty with Russia, and health for 9/11 first responders, became law. The Obama victories made the outgoing 111th Congress the most productive body of lawmakers in nearly one hundred years.
The American people finally got what they have wanted for a long time. They got their lawmakers to accomplish what the majority of them wanted. If the 112th Congress follows this path they may well win the White House in 2012.
If the GOP goes back to spending their energy on blocking progress, voters may regret giving them control of the House and take it back with a vengeance in the next election.
The republican rebellion against Mitch McConnell surfaced in the defection of his party on the 9/11 health care bill. An MSNBC text poll said republicans were ‘shamed’ into supporting the continued care of rescuers of the September 11 attacks. Perhaps they were. Will they also be shamed into continuing to help the unemployed?
What Americans took away from the most inspiring success of lawmakers in generations was the fulfillment of President Obama’s campaign promises. It may have taken him two years to succeed in repealing DADT, but succeed he did.
On the republican side, actions since the 2010 elections have been just the opposite. They campaigned on the promise of getting the deficit under control and their first major action since the election added $800 billion in borrowed money to the deficit in the form of tax cuts to just 2% of the wealthiest segment of the population.
Republicans may believe that if they had held the entire county hostage on behalf of a select few before the November 2 mid-term elections, the outcome would have been very different.
Regardless of political party, it appears that the residents of Capital Hill base their decisions on little more than whether or not it will win them the next election. That is not how the Constitution was designed, but it is one of the ways today’s politicians manipulate it.
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