by David A. Woodbury
After stewing for years about the excesses of our federal government, I have come to the conclusion that the most contemptible unit of government is Congress. This is the body which has given certain of its members super-powers out of proportion to the principle of equal representation, (raising once more the call for term limits). Congress passes a bill only after it has been loaded with loathsome and unrelated riders. With the complicity of the Executive Branch, Congress created the fourth, unelected Regulatory Branch of government, whose description is found nowhere in the Constitution.
Congress passes “enabling” legislation, and then devolves its own responsibility by turning the details over to “agency rule-making,” once a new agency has been conjured to create the new rules. If a regulation, (which has the “power of law” as if our representatives wrote the regulation themselves), is promulgated that exceeds the intention of the enabling legislation, can Congress simply strike it down? Oh, no. To reverse a regulation, a new bill has to be sent through Congress — committees, party politics, House-Senate reconciliation, and all that — and must be attached as a rider to yet another unrelated bill.
I digress for a moment, but It’s a mystery to me why there has not been a Constitutional challenge to the existence of the Regulatory Branch, even more a wonder when the regulators, writing law, are under the oversight of the Executive Branch. Maybe that’s because I’m the only American who is properly horrified by it, and I haven’t given up my family and all my personal goals and responsibility in order to devote the rest of my life to antagonizing that dragon.
As I have matured, which is to say, as I have become a hardened cynic, I have come to understand a key problem in the way Congress operates, and from that I realize how a simple change might benefit everyone involved, including the party in power, the party in the doghouse, and all us humble citizens as well.
See, the problem is compromise, which is assumed to be a virtue in politics. The word, bipartisanship, is spoken with reverence by pontificating congresspeople. It works like this: The Democrats think that every household needs a pig. A pig takes care of your garbage, it’s companionable, unlike a Chevrolet, you can compost its waste, and in really hard times, you can eat it. The Republicans think that every household needs a Chevrolet. It gets you places, it’s economical to run, unlike a pig, it comes in attractive colors, and in a pinch you can sit inside it to get out of the rain.
When Congress compromises, what we get is a Pigrolet — a beast that can’t coordinate the feet on the front with the wheels on the back. It belches foul fumes while rejecting its special gasoline/garbage blend, (concocted by scientists who reached a consensus), and it bites you when you poke around for the hood latch. Never mind that the cost of a Pigrolet is orders of magnitude greater than that of a mere Chevrolet; Congress is puffed with pride in assuring that everyone has benefited by its new solution to a problem nobody had, and look how many jobs it has created! (Jobs in other countries, mostly. But lawyers in this country will benefit from the litigation that is sure to follow.) Once everyone in America has a Pigrolet and realizes what a piece of shit it is, what do we do? We send the same dolts back to Congress for another term and eagerly await the next product of bipartisan compromise.
Democrats and Republicans need to stop identifying our problems for us. And — here is the simple change — I think they need to stop compromising. I think the party in power in Congress — (never mind which party the President belongs to; most Presidents are mere catalysts for compromise) — should get everything it wants. The people should get exactly what they voted for. That’s the quickest, and probably the only, way the voters are going to realize what they’ve done by sending certain promise-makers to Washington. Either everyone gets a pig, or everyone gets a Chevrolet, or everyone gets neither, (the best deal of all).
Am I suggesting, for instance, that the Democrats in the current Congressional mix just vote with the Republicans and pass their oponents’ entire agenda? Yes! Go on record to object to what strikes you as absurdities, and then vote to let it happen and get it over with. It would be tough for a few years, but the culprits would not be able to complain that they were forced to compromise. Either the country will go down the tubes really fast, or things will get wildly better really fast.
Doing so just might bury one party or the other for good. Then, maybe, we could resume sending ordinary citizens to Washington who realize that you don’t need to be a lawyer in order to understand the Constitution. (And who also might be cured of the temptation to create Pigrolets.)
My household doesn’t need a government pig or a government Chevrolet. And especially we don’t need a Pigrolet, which is to say, we don’t need any of Congress’s cockamamie freedom-crushing compromise solutions to non-existent problems.
I am reminded of a couple of quotes from great Americans who have seen the same problem and described it with succinct eloquence:
This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer. –Will Rogers
Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys. –P. J. O’Rourke