Monday, July 21, 2014

Senate Prefers Pandering Over Responsibilities of Office

Today's Jacksonville Daily News carried the story on legislative activities in Washington, DC.  Through the unjaundiced eye of the author, Charles Babington, we had the chance to see through the hubbub of votes and speeches to the realpolitik at play in these humid days of a Washington summer:  Democrats, who control the Senate, are floating legislative proposals that will not become law, that they know will not become law, because the proposals cannot pass muster in the Republican Party controlled House of Representatives.  Babington puts a tidy bow on what actually is occurring as statist Democrats in the Senate conduct their theater of the bizarre.In Babington's words, the bills being brought to the floor are only being brought to the floor to force Republicans "to vote on sensitive matters that might rile women this fall."  

One wishes it were otherwise, that Democrats in the Senate and Republicans in the House would attend to the actual business of the Congress.  The actual responsibilities of the Congress pertain to the legislative aspects of the responsibilities of the central, federal government.  

James Madison, writing in The Federalist No. 41, neatly summarized the responsibilities assigned by the States to the federal government under the Constitution proposed by the 1787 Philadelphia Convention.  Explaining his view that the States did not grant too much power to the federal government, he wrote, to 

"form a correct judgment on this subject, it will be proper to review the several powers conferred on the government of the Union; and that this may be the more conveniently done they may be reduced into different classes as they relate to the following different objects: 1. Security against foreign danger; 2. Regulation of the intercourse with foreign nations; 3. Maintenance of harmony and proper intercourse among the States; 4. Certain miscellaneous objects of general utility; 5. Restraint of the States from certain injurious acts; 6. Provisions for giving due efficacy to all these powers."  
A complete review of The Federalist No. 41 (and Nos. 42 and 43 that complete his thoughts on the topic) is not possible here.  It suffices that he has identified in a single power the essence of the responsibilities of the federal government as securing the Nation from external dangers, regulating relations with foreign nations, insuring harmony and intercourse among the States, and preventing the States from undertaking certain acts injurious to the People.

The Senate has all the time in the world, apparently, to conduct "show" votes on issues designed to inflame the passions of various interest groups.  What the Senate does not have time to bring to the floor for a vote are appropriations bills, program authorizations bills and agency authorization bills.  Not much of a surprise for students of the Senate's behavior under the leadership of Harry Reid.  The Senate has failed, consistently and continuously, to bring appropriations bills to the Senate floor throughout his tenure.  The pinch of sequestration, the pinch of forced shut-downs, these all flow from the battle that follows after the failure to timely prepare, consider, and approve appropriations legislation.  The House of Representatives has done this job consistently and timely year after year.  The Senate brings to this essential task the speed of the slow loris, the wisdom of a clown, and the earnest sincerity of a used car salesman.

And, though one may wonder how appropriations legislation fits within the essential responsibilities of the federal government described by Madison in The Federalist No. 41, the answer, it turns out, is direct and clear.  The actions of the federal government are accomplished through human intermediaries.  Federal troops, federal bureaucrats, federal law enforcement agents, these are paid employees; they work in offices, buildings and campuses that require heat, light and power.  They are employed to accomplish the objectives (constitutionally legitimate or otherwise) designated in federal legislation and regulations as their responsibility.  The failure to develop, consider and approve an appropriations bill to fund the activities of the Department of Defense is, in its essence, a decision to risk or cause the discontinuation of the activities of that Department.  The dread, or silly, Environmental Protection Agency may run on scientific fumes but requires real cash to do its work.  So the Senate's consistent failure to conduct appropriations and authorizations legislative activity is gross negligence of duty.

Worse, it is this naked pandering.  Pandering that assumes that women do not know that they can obtain birth control of any kind authorized by the FDA simply by spending their own funds for them, and that they will prefer that the Senate force these kinds of show votes rather than do its duty.  

Listen in to the Democratic Caucus as it ponders how to proceed with its legislative agenda in the Senate:  "We need to distract voters from Barry's catastrophic Obamacare rollout," Senator So and So opines.  "Heck, folks," the hen's tooth rare Southern Democratic Senator drawls, "we need to distract voters from Barry's catastrophic Obamacare legislation."  "The problem, my learned colleagues," Harry Reid trumpets, "is that if we actually do what we were sent here to do, we won't have gotten the special interest groups we need on November 4th worked up to a frothy frenzy."  The clopping sounds of the tennis-shoed Patty Murray approach, "This isn't about November!  This is about the injustice of a Supreme Court decision that leaves women exactly where they were before Obamacare:  paying for their own contraceptives, rather than being able to shift those expenses onto others."  Reid, interrupting, "Senator Murray is correct.  We can, we should, we must bring to the floor for an immediate vote legislation overturning the Hobby Lobby decisions."

Not heard in the background of that noise are the soft crunching of gravel under boots as American service members walk into, through and beyond dangers on virtually every continent.  Ignored in the press to do this entirely sophistric act of legislative Kabuke theater are the pleas of communities along the southern border to act to reduce the tidal wave of illegal entries into the United States, along with the warnings of those with reason to know that the flood is not just of those seeking a better life here, but also includes, or is at risk of including, those who meld into the flood, so that, on entry into the best and brightest hope of mankind on earth, they can bring terror to the people whose interests have been sacrificed in the Senate in the interest of partisan politics.

Will women respond as hoped by the Democratic Party cabal in the Senate?  I do not have a crystal ball.  I do have a grasp of history.  How this fall's election goes depends greatly on the love of liberty or the preference for personal interest.  If women who love liberty vote accordingly, then the Senate will pass out of the hands of those who have fecklessly and recklessly ignored their actual duties.  If women who prefer personal interests fattened by the largess of government, then our long struggle to make a way forward out of continuing economic malaise and social agitation needs must will continue.