Saturday, October 10, 2009

Follow The Leader

It is amazing to me how the polarization of party politics has become so integral with the discussion of “health care reform.” According to proponents of reform, Democratic legislators should simply vote the party line; no thinking or individual conscience is required here, the party leadership tells you how to vote and you vote that way.

I don’t know what form of government that is, but it is not democracy.

I suggested as much in a comment on a quite liberal blog, and I was roundly attacked. I was rebutted in no uncertain terms that if individual legislators were allowed to think for themselves, and did not follow party leadership and vote as a block, that nothing would ever get done.

Olbermann and Maddow, supposed bastions of liberal thinking, are highly critical of Democratic legislators who are “standing in the way of reform.” They are both insisting that these Democrats get in line and vote with the party. These two “liberals” are opposed to legislators having an open mind, thinking for themselves, which is the very definition of the word “liberal.”

If a Congressman gets letters from his district which oppose legislation by a margin of 100:1, but party leadership tells him to vote in favor of that legislation, he is supposed to ignore the advice of his constituents and follow the dictates of his party leaders. If he finds something in a bill morally objectionable, he is supposed to disregard his conscience and vote per the dictates of his party leadership.

We are, by all of this thinking, redefining oligarchy downward. The legislation that gets passed is determined not by thinking of 535 men and women who are elected to national office, but by a much smaller number of people who constitute the leadership of the party in power.

That certainly means fewer people that lobbyists need to buy off.

And let’s do remember that we had just such a Congress when George Bush was President. That Congress voted to authorize the war in Iraq. It gave us the Patriot Act and the authorization to imprison people without trial. It gave us the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005. It got things done.

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