July 13, 2016
By Rebecca Burgess Writing democracy's obituary has a history about as long as democracy's own life span. The 2016 diagnosis includes some now-familiar maladies: legislative gridlock or stagnation, hyperpartisan divides, and the capture of the halls of government by privileged special interests, whose fistfuls of dollars effectively mute the political voice of the average American. Under such circumstances, the report goes, democracy flatlines. But democracy isn't dead - it's quite alive, and its reactionary kicking against aspects of our modern administrative state explains a great deal about current levels of gridlock and partisanship.
March 13, 2015 |
Americans of a certain age may remember the 1970s-era TV commercial that depicted two kids trying to entice their baby brother, "Mikey," into doing something they didn't have the stomach for - tasting a new Quaker Oats cereal called Life. In a similar fashion, it seems, Senate Republicans persuaded their freshman colleague Tom Cotton of Arkansas to write something they didn't want to take credit for. Thus Cotton penned a letter to the leaders of Iran suggesting they ignore the president of the United States as he tries to lead negotiations to limit the scope and pace of that nation's nuclear program.
October 1, 2013
Jason Greenslate has become America's most prominent public figure who favors a do-rag and surfing slang since Caleb "Kai" McGillvary, the hitchhiking Internet hero turned New Jersey murder suspect. Greenslate's transgressions are less criminal than culinary: Fox News' cameras captured him buying supermarket sushi and lobster (albeit "on special," he noted) with his food-stamp card. Greenslate, a San Diego-area surfer and aspiring rock star with no dependents or identifiable means of support, told Fox that the government's willingness to subsidize his meals is "radical," in the colloquial sense.
July 20, 2013 |
U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.) joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers Thursday in Washington to push a package of bills intended to help break congressional gridlock. The eight proposals draw a bead on government waste, providing legislation that attracts members of both parties. Fitzpatrick's bill, for instance, aims to cut federal agencies' travel expenses through videoconferencing. Another measure would merge electronic health records between the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
March 13, 2013 |
Just when our politics seemed destined to freeze into a brain-dead brand of partisanship, party lines started cracking up. Start with the progress on two of this year's central issues, gun safety and immigration. It was unfortunate that talks between Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) and Senate advocates of universal background checks were suspended because Coburn can't quite get to yes. But the fact that Coburn and Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D., N.Y.) were negotiating at all, and stayed on cordial terms, means something.
November 6, 2012
By Robin Lauermann We like to promote the value of voting. But that is not the primary purpose of democracy. Rather, it is to promote deliberation that produces broader perspectives and more considered answers to our problems. Exercising the rights of our representative democracy - voting, free speech, etc. - is valuable only inasmuch as it produces said deliberation. Alexis de Toqueville noted that "liberty is an arduous apprenticeship. " If you wish to assert your rights, you must respect the responsibilities that come with them.
September 11, 2012 |
PARTISANSHIP in Washington is threatening to put the economy in recession at year's end, or else leave us with damaging levels of debt. Those are the options facing Washington if the two parties remain unwilling to come together and replace the so-called fiscal cliff with a thoughtful and gradual plan to put the debt on a more sustainable path. If we do nothing, a combination of blunt and immediate across-the-board spending cuts, dramatic tax-rate increases and other changes will throw the economy back into recession while slashing important investments, crippling our military capabilities and raising taxes on ordinary Americans.
August 12, 2012 |
Picture this: A conservative Republican chief justice is called upon to decide the fate of one of the most partisan issues of our time, and, surprisingly comes down on the Democratic side. Health care and John Roberts? Actually, I was thinking of voter ID and Pennsylvania Chief Justice Ron Castille. There is a plausible scenario whereby he will cast the deciding vote regarding the controversial new law. And while his brethren might rule along party lines, Castille has a history of flexing his independence.
May 30, 2012 |
JUST A FEW WEEKS before the U.S. Supreme Court's hearings in March on the constitutionality of several parts of the Affordable Care Act — a/k/a Obamacare —an overwhelming majority of the nation's legal scholars predicted that the law would be upheld. They saw little substantive difference between the health-care legislation and other social programs that have been passed without constitutional challenge since the court interpreted the Constitution's commerce clause as supporting Congress' power to pass New Deal legislation like Social Security and various economic and health and safety regulations.