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James Shott / Oct. 6, 2015

How Defective Republican Congressional Leadership Threatens Liberty

Wednesday morning on Bloomberg Business TV’s “The Pulse,” host Francine Lacqua brought up the situation in the House of Representatives following House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, announcing his retirement later this month. Program contributor Hans Nichols opined that a group of 40-50 Republicans that he characterized as saying no to everything, that doesn’t want to lead, and wants to shut things down, has plagued Mr. Boehner, whereas by contrast Mr. Boehner and the leadership were trying to “govern.” Although Mr. Nichols didn’t use a term to describe that group, “radical” is a term commonly used.

What Mr. Nichols misses is that the idea of “governing” employed by Speaker Boehner and his Senate counterpart, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is all too similar to that of the former Democrat leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Cal., and Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who led with such foresight that the Democrats lost control of the Congress.

Too many Americans seem not to understand that political parties evolved from differences in philosophies, which introduce a diversity of ideas into the governing process. (They like diversity, except in politics, where it is truly needed.) Thus, there is a better chance of finding good solutions to problems, when solutions are needed. And when no proposal can gather enough support among the diverse membership of the two houses, they enact no legislation.

What the “radical” faction of the Republican majority did is exactly what the Founders envisioned the Legislative Branch doing: introducing and advocating the things they believe are needed, and opposing those that they believe are not needed, or may even be harmful. Making legislation was never intended to be a smooth and easy process. As Otto von Bismarck said, “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.”

The idea is that competing political philosophies propose ideas to address a problem and try to find areas of agreement on important and appropriate issues. Virtually every Republican or Democrat proposal contains elements that the opposing party will not agree with, but they may well – and should – contain elements that both sides can agree on. Those are what should become law, and the rest should be tabled or trashed.

This approach means that both sides get less than they want, but the country gets solutions that gather enough bi-partisan support to be approved, which likely means that a true bi-partisan solution has a fair chance of working.

It is not uncommon for Congressional Democrats to introduce legislation that they know Republicans will oppose, which then allows them to accuse the GOP of partisanship and obstructing progress for political purposes. The compliant media then engages its corruption squad to give the Democrat position nearly exclusive support.

It is a political process, after all. But which side is the more actively political: the one that opposes measures it believes are bad, or the one that designs measures to fail?

What if one party offers proposals that the other party, or a significant number of its members, can find no common ground in. What it Party A offers a measure for Party B to have his left hand amputated? Does Party B compromise on losing only a finger or two?

The “radicals” in the Republican Party oppose measures they see as antithetical to the founding principles. These are the kinds of proposals they say “No” to, and do not support.

When the Republicans gained a majority in both houses of Congress, their supporters rightly expected to see changes in the way Congress worked.  They wanted strong conservative actions from their elected representatives, in contrast to the liberal measures brought forth by the former Democrat majority.

Instead, Congressional Republican leaders have sat around while the president ignored the role and duties of the Congress to put his agenda in place. The “radical” Republicans strongly object to this failure of the legislative branch to protect its authority and do its duty. So should we all.

The Republican leadership cowers in a corner when there is pressure to bring a measure to a vote, knowing that even if the measure passes, the president will veto it. “If we know he will veto it, why waste the time it will take to pass it?” Here’s why: Because if Republicans don’t vote on and pass a measure, then they have taken no official position. The Congressional leadership will have decided the issue by inaction rather than forcing the president to take a public position by vetoing legislation passed by Congress. The majority party will have given the president an easy victory, and surrendered the right to complain about the results. This is not leadership.

The Republicans that Mr. Nichols seemingly holds in such disdain are working to uphold fundamental American political values, which is what the voters that delivered the Republicans the majority expect. If advocating fundamental principles has now become a radical activity, it demonstrates just how far the political left has moved from the principles that allowed America to grow into the most successful and free nation in history.

We must restore the founding values to the federal government: smaller, less expensive, non-wasteful, responsive, constitutional government, a government that truly serves the people who pay for it.


James Shott is a columnist for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, and publishes his columns on several Websites, including his own, Observations.

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