Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Words Mean Things

House Minority (sorry, insert happy smile here) Leader Ms. Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, assisted by the able staff of the Washington Post, is proclaiming the normal exercise of majority rule in Congress an "abuse of power".

"House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) plans to lash out at the chamber's Republican leaders today with a report accusing them of abusing their power through parliamentary tactics designed to suppress dissent."

Uh... this is news to who, exactly? I refer to the "accuse" part of the statement, of course. There's much more in the same vein:

""While this Republican administration has spoken strongly about promoting democracy around the world, the House Republican leadership is working feverishly to undermine democracy here at home," she said in a statement to be released with the report."

"Abuse". "... feverishly to undermine", "... ignored House Rules and the basic standards of legislative fairness and decency... ". Long-time political observers like me understand that "not getting their way" comprises "abuse" in what's left of that unhappy herd of cats, but even with their decline in fortunes I find it remarkable they don't have anyone on staff to throw a penalty flag for excessive use of overused, ineffective, and counterproductive buzzwords.

Ms. Pelosi is the minority leader in the lower house of legislators of our representative democracy. In this kind of political entity, the will of the people is translated into quantitative physical reality as majority or minority caucuses. The electorate determines which agenda will be enacted into law by creating a majority caucus. That Ms. Pelosi leads a party that has lost the support of the majority of the electorate seems to escape her notice. That her agenda and philosophy is not given special largesse contrary to the demonstrated will of the majority of voting citizens might normally be expected to inspire a little introspection; a critical self- evaluation, if you will...

I guess it's easier for her to declare a conspiracy instead. I mean, if it's not a nefarious conspiracy that has ensconced the Republican majority, the will of the people as expressed over elections spanning more than a decade might have to be acknowledged as a thoughtful, informed statement regarding which party is better equipped to deal with the myriad challenges facing our country. Can't be having that, can we?

I believe that good ideas garner support independent of party when both parties are firmly committed to common goals. The duties of office for all elected officials devolve down to preserving liberties, defense of the nation, and the administrative, judicial, and diplomatic responsibilities essential to performing those primary functions. There's no rule that says a minority agenda receive undue attention just because they weren't a minority last year, or last decade. They have to earn the support.

Presenting good intentions as the only necessary justification for legislation, absent any discernible favorable historical precedent, or, as is increasingly the norm these days, while denying solid past failures of the same or similar solutions to perform well or at all, has been the standard debate format of the Democrats for most of my adult life. On a personal note, the patent inability of the Democrats to ever voluntarily acknowledge responsibility for policy failures is very near the top of the (crowded) list of things that they do that lower them in my esteem.

I did mention they have been reduced to a minority, right? That's no accident; alas, there's very little approaching the flavor of conspiracy involved, unless the public manifestation of voluntary political participation is somehow criminal in nature. They gain nothing by their reflexive inability to self critique or accept external criticism. We, who are watching our money spent, exercise control via elections to affect positive change as we see the need. In broad terms, the demonstrated will of the people suggests that we want a less color conscious, less intrusive, and more disciplined government that focuses on expanding individual opportunities vice providing for individuals' welfare. And then there's that whole "stop barbarians from killing us instead of finding ways to justify them" thing, too.

They really need to work on that. Really.

Publishing a report titled "Broken Promises: The Death of Deliberative Democracy" is not a constructive move on behalf of a party seeking legitimacy in the eyes of an informed, involved, electorate. This tactic worked in the past ("Newt wants grandma to eat dog food and your children to starve") because the vast majority of information via media were dogmatically aligned with the Democrats. There are more media choices now, of course, but the real killer has been the rise of the internet as a tool that individuals use to explore, debate, and support their political options.

Good ideas. Market place. Winners. Just as we no longer buy plows, stoves, or clothes from a single mail order catalog, or find our debates limited by who shows up at the annual mountain man rendevous, or who shows up down to the General Store, the political parties no longer have the advantage of defining the big picture in a way that benefits themselves. In a perfect world, increased feedback coupled with agile analysis and solid mechanisms to respond would make problems easier to solve.

I believe that one party is working to provide workable solutions for the challenges facing the nation. The other party is working for... the party. They don't have to acknowledge this charge. As long as a majority of voters makes the call, the Democrats will, emphatically, have to live with the consequences of their chosen priorities.

I've reread the article. The Washington Post could invest in a buzzword omsbudsman, too.

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