Now that the dust has begun to settle on the government shutdown and debt ceiling crises, it is time for both Republicans and Democrats to come together not only to make sure that this doesn’t happen again, but to make sure that this can’t happen again.
There are of course three branches of the federal government that any form of legislation must pass through in order to become law. However, last week exposed a loophole in the American political system that allowed a small number of extremists to literally hold the entire nation and world economy hostage because they weren’t able to accomplish what they wanted through the standard democratic process in America.
Under our current system, there is no law or restriction against any branch of the government attaching completely unrelated items to continuing resolutions to fund the government and raise the nation’s debt ceiling.
One party or branch of the government could technically say that they are shutting down the government and defaulting on our loans unless legislation is passed along with a continuing resolution that makes it mandatory for every single American to worships cats on Sundays.
As ridiculous as that may sound, there is a loophole in our political system that allows one party or one branch of government to attach completely unrelated items to simple bills to fund the government or raise the debt ceiling.
It’s this loophole that allowed Tea Party extremists in Congress to shut down the government and threaten to default on our nation’s loans, and it’s this loophole that threatens the entire foundation of the American political system.
How, you may be asking?
Because this loopholes allows for minority rule which is the single worst enemy of any truly free democracy.
Republicans and particularly the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party are a minority within the Federal Government today. Republicans hold the majority of just one house of Congress and that is it. Democrats hold the other house of Congress, the Senate and the White House.
The American public just voted in an election where issues such as Obamacare, government spending, tax policy and social issues such as abortion and gay marriage were hotly debated items.
The result of that election was that Obama was easily re-elected president, and Democrats gained seats in both the House and Senate.
If the American public wanted Obamacare repealed and Republican policies implemented they would have elected Mitt Romney president and they would have given Republicans control of both the House and Senate.
But that of course didn’t happen, and the fact that one faction of Congress can then hold the entire nation hostage in order to accomplish what they weren’t able to accomplish through our standard democratic process is a loophole that could wind up bringing down the entire American political system if not addressed right now.
Republicans may not like Obamacare, but Obamacare was passed through all three branches of our federal government within our standard democratic process.
Of course Obamacare didn’t receive a single Republican vote, but that fact is almost irrelevant. Democrat majorities were elected by the American people in both the House and Senate and Barack Obama was elected President of the United States. That is how the cards fell after going through our free democratic voting process. This in turn gave Democrats every right to pass legislation through all three branches of government and make Obamacare the law of the land, which is precisely what they did.
In order to repeal Obamacare, adjust Obamacare, or replace Obamacare with a completely new law, the exact same democratic process should be followed. Republicans would need to either win enough elections to hold the majority in all three branches of the government, or they would need to gather enough votes from both sides of the isle to pass through their legislation to repeal, defund or replace Obamacare.
That is the way the American political system is meant to work.
However, this loophole that currently exists within our political system allowed the Republican Party, or more accurately a faction of the Republican Party in the House, to attach completely unrelated items such as defunding Obamacare, changing our abortion laws, etc. to a simple continuing resolution bill to fund the government.
Republicans may like this loophole in our system as they are currently the minority party and this is essentially their only form of leverage. However, when looking at the big picture, removing this loophole from our entire political system would be in the best interest of everyone involved because the tables could turn on this loophole in an instant.
Let’s say for example that Republicans retain the House in 2016, Democrats retain the Senate and Chris Christie easily wins the White House. Democrats would then be the minority party in our Federal Government but could still threaten to shut down the government and default on our loans unless new guns laws and a bill making gay marriage legal was passed along with a simple continuing resolution to fund the government. Democrats in the Senate would technically have the ability to say that they are not raising the debt ceiling unless Obamacare was changed into a single payer system, etc.
It would make no difference that these issues have absolutely nothing to do with raising the debt ceiling or passing a continuing resolution to fund the government. And it would make no difference that the American public would have just voted on these issues and given Republicans the majority control of our government including electing a Republican to the highest office in the land…a small minority could still hold the entire nation and world economy hostage until they got what they wanted.
A continuing resolution is about government funding. So, if a minority party wanted to have a debate about funding levels, budgets, etc. that would be well within their right as a continuing resolution has everything to do with the nation’s budget.
But a minority party having the ability to attach completely unrelated items to a continuing resolution is nothing short of a severe flaw in the American political system.
This needs to be addressed and it needs to be addressed right now so that a situation like the one we have just witnessed not only doesn’t happen again, but literally cannot happen again.
A truly free democracy should never in any way, shape or form, allow for minority rule.
For the good of the entire nation, it is time to remove hostage taking from the American political system.
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