Democracies Have Consequences

If I hear it one more time, my tennis shoes will be traveling rapidly towards my television screen without me being in them:

Elections have Consequences.

The words, in and of themselves, are not objectionable.  It is the intent behind the speakers who have been preaching this lately that is objectionable.  To sum it up, saying “Elections have Consequences” is an urbane way of saying, “We won. You Lost. We get to do everything we want.”

This “winner take all” approach is perhaps appropriate in The People’s Republic of China, Venezuela, or the Islamic Republic of Iran, but not in the United States of America.  It is true and it is important that elections have consequences.   What is true and more important is that we are a democratic republic. THAT has consequences. “Democratic” basically means that we get to vote for people to represent us, not to rule us.  “Republic” means that we don’t have a monarch.  No one gets to be king.

All of our elected representatives—whether part of the majority party or not—get a say in the government. “Tyranny of the majority” is the phrase that was coined to describe what happens when a majority simply ignores a minority in our type of government.  We currently have a situation where one party controls the Executive Branch and a majority in both chambers of Congress.  Instead of using statesmanship and discretion to be sure that the party representing the minority (30% in the Senate and 40% in the House) is heard, the current majority has become belligerent.  Republicans can’t even offer amendments or bills in the House.  In the Senate, they can, but they are simply ignored.  All the minority can do is vote up or down on Democratic ideas.  Why are they even in Washington if that is the case?  To rubber stamp one sided legislation?  We have a two party system, not a single party rule.  Ideas from both parties should be accepted at all times.  A majority in our government can limit ideas from the minority, but it should never simply ignore them.

I have some things to say to our elected politicians:

Senators and Representatives, you are there to represent us and our interests.  You are not there to represent a political party.   You are not our superiors, you are one of us.  If it comes down to a choice between acting in our best interests and acting in the best interests of your party, then you are obligated to choose us.

Parties come and go—there was no Republican Party or Democratic Party when the country was young.  Our country has a lasting power beyond the life of any political party.  You are the party, so if it has become too overbearing, get it under control.  The Constitution charges you to “promote the general welfare,” not “promote your political party.”  If you are of the opinion that what is good for your party is good for America because your party has to remain in charge, think back to the 1970s when the CEO of General Motors reputedly said, “What is good for GM is good for the country.”  Look at GM today.

Representing us means that you do not simply substitute your desires and preferences for ours.  You don’t have to listen to polls constantly, but you need to listen to us on the big stuff.  Listen to us when we tell you that we don’t want TARP or bailouts or Cap and Trade or a deficit so big that children have a lifelong debt from the instant of their birth.  You are not spending the government’s money, you are spending our money.  We are not so stupid that we don’t have informed opinions. On the big stuff, you should be reflecting those opinions. Stand up for us if the party says that we don’t know enough to know what’s good for us.

Citizen Obama, you were elected President, not King or Head Czar. It is often said that once someone is elected as President, that person is President of all Americans. If you are my president, then start acting like it. You need to consider what is best for all Americans, not just union members, community organizers, and your political contributors. You are the President of the United States of America, and should be proud of your country. Yes, it has made mistakes, but I don’t think that I have ever once heard you say anything about what is good and decent in America.  Honor our system by changing within the limits established by our Constitution.

You were also not elected to be boss of Congress.  Our elected lawmakers are there for you to interact with, not to be constantly intimidated by you.  They are there to represent We the People, not Obama the President or the Democratic Party.  If they are trying to represent their constituents—their true bosses, and the ones that can fire them—then don’t make them offers they can’t refuse. There is a fine line between persuasion and bullying; with your Harvard education I am sure that you can make the distinction. All indications are that you are governing by the “Chicago Way,” which is out and out bullying. You are President of the United States now, not some two bit Chicago hoodlum masquerading as a politician.

As long as we are on the subject of respect, you need to respect us, We the People, too.  You said, “I don’t want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking.”  That feels like a backhanded way of saying “Shut up if you don’t agree with me.”   Don’t tell us to shut up.   Until legislation is passed, it is our not only our right, but our duty as citizens to be talking about it.   You have said in the past that you really want a single payer Health Care System.  You indicated that you knew that it would take a while because we would resist, and the easiest way to get it was by starting with a public option.  It can be shown that we overwhelmingly don’t want single payer, by any and all polls out there, liberal, apolitical, or conservative.  Furthermore, we don’t want to open the door to single payer by creating a public option.   Don’t lie about what you want.  If you have changed your mind or you really didn’t mean what you said before, then tell us that.  It is ok for you to want it; it is not ok for you to force it on us.  You are our representative, not our dictator.  We’ve heard enough about Health Care.  Stop trying to change us.  Lead in a direction that we, your bosses, want.  We have to pay the bills.

Yes, elections have consequences. Living in this country means that The Constitution limits those consequences.  The Constitution says what you can’t do to us.  Stop and take a look at that.   Stop trying to do more than you are allowed.  Remember: in this country, you will never get to rule us or boss us.   That is the truly important consequence of elections in the United States of America.

And please, stop saying that elections have consequences just to justify acting like a big shot.

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Published in: on August 11, 2009 at 9:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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